natural sunburn remedies
Naturally Healthy Living

Summer & Sun: Natural Sunburn Remedies

Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns. 

Some people feel that summer and sunburns go together. You can’t have one without the other! And to some extent, that’s true!

Others slather themselves in sunblock to guard against burns. We stock up on the strongest SPF and reapply every couple hours. No sunburn here!

It’s true — we have a complicated relationship with sunlight these days. It either seems like we’ve got too much or not enough. And in summer, it’s usually waaaay too much.

But, We Need the Sun!

Of course we do! We all know that Vitamin D is necessary for our bodies. And the best place to get it? Yes, the sun! Unfortunately, thanks to sunblock use and too little time in the sun (especially in Madison, WI, where our winters are so long!), many of us are “clinically” deficient in vitamin D.

We also get more than just sunburns and vitamin D from the sun. There are other co-products from sun exposure. One of these is sulfate. Sulfate helps protect the skin from ultraviolet damage, strengthens the immune system, helps prevent cancer and heart disease, and helps the body process toxins.

We also get melanin, an antioxidant that can destroy DNA-damaging free radicals. These are just two of the beneficial co-products of vitamin D synthesis…there are many others.

But here’s the deal — you can get all these nutrients without getting burned.

Responsible sun Exposure

We would all be wise to practice “responsible sun exposure”. What that means is gradually increasing time in the sun and then covering up or getting out of the sun before you burn! Remember that a sunburn doesn’t reach its peak until 24 hours after exposure. Also, some medications increase photosensitivity. If you aren’t sure about yours, check with your pharmacist or doctor!

Sunburn Can Be Dangerous

I think all of us have experienced times that we pushed it too far. Sunburn can be extremely painful and in some cases downright dangerous. If you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention:

  • Intense pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Severe blisters
  • Headache, confusion or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe dehydration
  • An acute burn in conjunction with another medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, etc.
  • Assess the burn. Burns that cover a large amount of body surface are much more dangerous.

It’s also important to know that just because you’re not burned, doesn’t mean that damage isn’t necessarily happening. Many people don’t know that there are two types of ultraviolet rays:

  • UVB rays stimulate vitamin D and melanin production. Melanin is what causes us to tan and protects us from UV damage. They are also known as the “burning rays”. When exposure exceeds melanin’s ability to protect us we begin to burn. Burning is the body’s signal to get out of the sun, or at least cover up! Excessive burning can contribute to melanoma risk.
  • UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin, causing far more damage than UVB rays. They cause oxidative damage which leads to wrinkles and collagen loss. They can even damage our DNA. The scary thing about UVA rays is that they come with no “danger” signal (sunburn). They are linked with the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.

Here’s the scary part. UVB rays are easily blocked by sunblocks and windows. Yay! Right? NO, because UVA rays are not blocked by sunblocks or windows. When we cover ourselves in sunblock we are protecting ourselves from the surface burn and disabling our body’s warning mechanism that alerts us to get out of the sun. Using sunblock stops the body’s production of melanin and vitamin D. Both are needed for protection from the deeply penetrating UVA rays. Because we don’t see the burn, we think we are safe.

The Best of Natural Sunburn Remedies is Prevention

Before we move into our natural sunburn remedies, let’s talk about sunblock (the best remedy of all is to avoid a burn altogether) Buying a sunblock that is “broad-spectrum” and claims to protect against both UVA and UVB should protect us, but conventional sunblock options aren’t without risks. Whenever possible, reach for a sunscreen with natural, safe ingredients. Many conventional sunblocks are packed with chemicals that are not only harmful to our bodies, can also be harmful to aquatic life.

Unfortunately, the United States’ FDA criteria for safety in our personal care products is sorely lacking. So, check the label. Many broad-spectrum sunblocks contain retinyl palmitate. This chemical has been found by the FDA to increase the growth of skin cancers.

We carry several brands of natural sunscreens in our Madison supplement stores. Call us or stop by to pick them up!

Dealing With Sunburn

We’re all humans. Sunburns absolutely will occur this summers. Here are some “dos and don’ts” for dealing with sunburn:

  • DO avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water.
  • DO eat fresh fruit. It is easy to digest, full of nutrients and is cooling to your system.
  • DO try to rest. Sunburn is really a burn. Your body needs rest and nourishment to heal.
  • DON’T expose your skin to hot water in a tub or shower. Only expose burned skin to cool or tepid water. Make sure to gently pat skin dry.
  • DON’T use soap on a burn. It can dry and irritate your already damaged skin.

Natural Sunburn Remedies

Sun soothers are an easy, quick way to ease the pain of a bad burn. The best kinds contain herbs, essential oils, and plant-derived healing ingredients. We carry several natural sun-soothers in our store. But, you can also compliment those options with extra healing power, or whip up your own remedies as well.

Here are some natural sunburn remedies to help cool, heal and relieve the pain of a sunburn:

Aloe Vera Gel and Lavender Essential Oil

Use 5 or 6 drops of lavender essential oil to a quarter size dollop of aloe gel. A little goes a long way. This is a favorite natural sunburn treatment and provides instant cooling and pain relief.


Dip a clean cloth in any of the following items. Wring out just enough that the cloth isn’t dripping and apply directly to the burned area. Don’t shock your skin with very cold temperatures. All of these should only be applied at a cool or tepid temperature.

  • Milk:  If possible use organic.
  • Witch Hazel:  Make sure it does NOT contain alcohol.
  • Oatmeal:  Soak 1/4 cup oatmeal in 2 cups cool water. Strain before using.
  • Water:  Remember to use cool or tepid water.


Use a spray bottle to apply to the burned area. This is one of the easiest natural sunburn remedies to apply — just spray over the area. This is a great trick for when the skin is extra sensitive to touch.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar:  Use full strength.
  • Witch Hazel:  Use full strength. It is important to make sure you purchase Witch Hazel that DOES NOT contain alcohol.


Make sure the bath water is cool or tepid! Any of the following will help cool the body and relieve pain.

  • Baking Soda: 1 cup per tub
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 cup per tub
  • Oatmeal: Place 2 cups oatmeal in a cloth or old sock, tie securely. Let oatmeal bag soak in the water a few minutes before getting in. Keep bag in water, squeezing every few minutes. You will feel a somewhat slick coating on your skin. A good thing. Don’t rinse it off!


On a camping trip or need a quick solution without running to the store? These natural sunburn remedies only require a trip to your fridge or cooler. (It is wise to use organic foods when treating sunburn.)

  • Cucumbers:  Apply juiced, mashed or sliced cucumbers directly to skin.
  • Yogurt:  Use the plain, live cultured variety. Apply cool yogurt directly to skin and let stand at least five minutes. Gently rinse off with cool water.
  • Potatoes:  They may be used in the any of these forms and applied directly to the skin: finely grated, thinly sliced, juiced.

Remember, these treatments are suggestions for natural sunburn remedies. The safest way to deal with is sunburn is to avoid it altogether!!

Our Wellness Consultants are here to help you out with any questions you have on choosing natural sunblock and natural sunburn remedies — as well as any other questions you may have on how to choose supplements and vitamins that meet your specific health needs. Contact us or stop at our store, located in Madison, Wisconsin, and a team member will provide information to help you “Find Your Healthy Place”!

This is written as an informational guide and is not meant to replace professional medical care. 


*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
6313 McKee Road Suite 100
Fitchburg, WI 53719

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
550 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

The Healthy Place – Apple Wellness
2824 Prairie Lakes Drive Suite 108
Sun Prairie, WI 53590

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