It’s hot out, summer is here. We love going to the beach or spending time outdoor in the backyard. The kids are at the camp, playing outside all day long after the long hours at school or zooming from home. We’ve been waiting for it. It’s all fun and games, but sometimes all this time outdoors comes with a heavy price. Sunburn. Blisters. Pain and itching. How to get rid of sunburn itching? There are ways and this post is all about it.
Summertime and the Living is Easy… or Not
Who doesn’t love the summer? I’m pretty sure it’d be a hard job to find someone who’d say no to longer summer days, abundant sunshine, the great summer outdoors, evening barbeques, and all that comes with the summertime. On the other hand, no matter how much you worship the summer sun, you don’t want to get burned. Not only is it unpleasant when it happens. It can also have far-reaching consequences for the future. Sunspots, hyperpigmentation, general skin aging, and in the worst-case scenario, various forms of skin cancer.
While it’s best to avoid sunburn – lather on that sunscreen like your life depended on it! because it does! – occasionally we might get a little burn. Sometimes, you forgot to reapply, other times it might have looked like it was cloudy out but the sun got you nonetheless.
What is a Sunburn?
Sunburn is a red, itchy skin that appears after prolonged exposure to the sun. It shows up usually a few hours after sun exposure although for some people it might be visible earlier (which might be better because then they know to run for cover, one would hope).
The abundant summer sunshine is composed of three types of UV rays.
UVA rays have the lowest energy level and comprise of about 95% of all the rays that hit our skin and reach deep into the dermis. Exposure to these rays can cause immediate sunburn, premature aging and some forms of skin cancer.
UVB rays are medium energy level and comprise about 5% of the radiation that hits us. They are extremely dangerous because they cause only delayed sunburn, but they can definitely lead to wrinkles, sun spots, and cancer. Unlike UVA rays which damage the DNA indirectly, the UVB rays can damage DNA directly and can thus lead to most skin cancers.
UVC rays are of the highest energy but luckily are filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere and don’t reach us. If they did, they would cause severe burns on the surface of the skin.
When ultraviolet radiation from the sun reaches the skin, it damages the skin cells and causes mutations in their DNA. The sunburn will eventually heal, but some of the surviving cells will have mutations that escape repair. These cells could eventually become cancerous.What happens when you get a sunburn
RELATED POST: Direct Sun and Our Bodies
What Can We Do Once We Got a Sunburn?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best way to treat sunburn is to:
- take frequent cool baths or showers to relieve the pain and itching
- pat dry and apply lots of moisturizers
- apply and reapply Aloe Vera to the burned skin
- use pain relief if needed (Tylenol, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen are fine)
- drink lots of water
To help heal and soothe stinging skin, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. The first thing you should do is get out of the sun—and preferably indoors.How to Treat Sunburn
Some other home remedies I’ve heard of is applying yogurt to the burn or treating the burned areas with a crème with Panthenol. I’m not sure of the efficacy or how exactly these remedies do what they are supposed to do, but I know people who swear by them.
My preferred method to help myself and my family if sunburn hits are straight Aloe Vera gel or a Soothing DIY After-Sun Spray.
Aloe Vera to the Rescue
I usually go straight for my aloe plant in the garden. The process is simple but a bit messy.
- cut the leaf off of the plant
- let it sit for a few minutes in a bucket of water with the cut side down
- take out and peel the skin off
- use the entire flesh as a compress, or:
- put the flesh in the blender and blend to make a jelly-like liquid
Fresh Aloe Vera gel gives an immediate relief for both itching and pain, and with time it will help the sunburn go away.
For my kid, however, it is not an ideal option. Being active as he is, it would be a chore to lie down quietly with an Aloe Vera compress on his back. What he needs is a quick spray. apply and run back to his activities.
How to Relieve Sunburn with the DIY After-Sun Spray?
An after-sun spray is like a drink of cool water for the dehydrated skin. Getting a burn makes the skin very thirsty and giving it a squirt of this spray every 30 minutes or so can really do wonders.
I even use the spray after a day outdoors even when I did not get a sunburn. It works nicely after a hydrotherapy in a jacuzzi too. And, if you keep it in your purse, you can spritz it on your face to freshen up. So it’s pretty versatile. And, most importantly, completely natural and chemical-free.
My Soothing After-Sun Spray
My soothing, anti-itch after-sun spray still features aloe vera gel, so you’ll be still getting the benefits of this wonderful plant.
The other two star ingredients are the witch hazel extract and a plant hydrosol of choice.
Why Witch Hazel?
Organic witch hazel extract contains tannins which can help alleviate inflammation which is the cause of the burning and itching. Witch hazel has been used for centuries to treat irritated and inflamed skin, and it’s a perfect choice to include in after-sun care recipes.
Hydrosols, sometimes also called, plant waters, are usually a by-product of essential oil distillation. Hydrosols are made up of the water-soluble constituents of the plant that are left over after extracting the essential oils.
Hydrosols have similar properties and aromas to the essential oils but are much less potent and so can be used directly on the skin.
Which Hydrosol is Best?
That all depends on your personal preference.
For cooling: cucumber or peppermint might be best
For soothing: lavender, chamomile, calendula
For anti-aging: rose, neroli, helichrysum
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You will need:
- A spritzer bottle
- 4 oz witch hazel extract
- 2 oz of hydrosol (calendula, lavender, rose, helichrysum, peppermint, chamomile, neroli)
- 1 oz of aloe vera gel (either fresh as described above or bought like this one)
I add a bit of natural preservative to make sure that the spray won’t get contaminated. A good, eco-certified choice is Leucidal Liquid which can be obtained online and should be used according to instructions (usually at about 2% rate of the entire volume of the finished product). with this preservative, you can be sure that the spray will last at least a month.
If not using the preservative, keep your after-sun spray in the fridge and use within two weeks for best results.
Aloe Vera Juice – $16.17
from: Starwest Botanicals Inc.
Distilled from the flowers of the Calendula officinalis plant, our Organic Calendula Hy… [More]
I hope, you found this helpful. Let me know how your summer is going and whether you know any other good remedies for parched, sunburned skin. And next time, please use sunscreen🙂