It was bound to happen, it always does: the first day of great summer sunshine in Vancouver and I got broiled. I’m not talking a little pink. I’m talking deep-seated, might need a therapist for post-traumatic sunburn disorder, burned. You could have baked a cake on my legs, except I couldn’t stand to have anything touch them.
And then came the swelling. Remember how your ankles swelled while you were pregnant? Yours didn’t? Yeah, uh, mine didn’t either. And, um, they certainly didn’t become a hybrid of clubfoot and cankle.
Okay, move along, nothing to see here…
As I was saying, I got burned. Bad. But this is good for you, because I’m about to tell you everything I tried, and learned, during this (and every other) really bad sunburn, remedies to treat it, to make it feel better, or even, really, just to be able to wear pants.
It’s everyone’s go-to for sunburn relief. If you’re skin doesn’t usually react to it, a burn can really benefit from pure aloe. A word of caution: the spray formulas and a lot of the ‘after sun’ gels that seem like they’re just aloe actually have a form of alcohol in them. Which feels great and soothing, initially, but once it dries, so will your skin. This will make the burn feel tight and even more unbearable.
There’s a reason it’s gentle enough for babies – it’s often fairly fragrance free, and made to help protect new, fresh skin. Like the layer under your burned stuff, that needs lots of nourishment.
Yes, it works really well for relieving itchiness, but it is also a remedy that can help a fresh sunburn to feel less irritated – for at least 17 minutes, which could be as long as it takes you to get to sleep. This is another bath-time friend: throw a ¼ cup in and see if it helps.
Rolled oats are food from the gods, I swear. Not only can they gently exfoliate, but they taste pretty good in cookies or for breakfast with a little bit of slivered almonds, maple syrup and soy milk. But wait! They’re great for sunburn relief, too.
- Either throw a handful in a warm (not hot, for the love of David Beckam’s abs!) bath
- Make a paste out of them (with some water) and smoosh it on.
- Do what I did and make a poultice: Cut the bottom half off of a leg of pantyhose and pour a cup of rolled oats in, along with a few drops of lavender oil, and then tie a knot in the top. Soak it in fairly warm water for about ten minutes, and then give it as long as you need, to be cool enough for your burn. Flatten the poultice on the ouchie parts and leave it in place for about 10 minutes, then switch it to a new ouchie spot, making sure you get all of them. Rinse off the residue when you’re done, and follow it up with fragrance-free baby lotion.
Throw a cup-full in a lukewarm bath. Either distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work to soothe and soften your sunburn.
If you got sunburned, you got dried out. Your skin, your cells, and probably on some level, your insides, too. Drink lots of water to cure any sun-stroke and dehydration you might have netted, and to help protect against the impending dry, peeling skin that most bad burns leave you with.
And for next time: do a better job of covering up! Whether you’re wearing long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat with fabulous Jackie O. shades, or you’re baring (nearly) all at the beach, wear a safe sunblock and reapply often. I’ve learned my lesson, so now I’m stocked up on Aveeno products with built-in SPF – my sensitive skin isn’t protesting the sun protection at all!
Editor’s note: Checkout a few fabulous sun protection products we found.