sunburn arms

Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone. You put on your sunscreen, go out for some fun in the sun, and the next thing you know (which happens to be 8 hours later,) you’re red as a lobster! Or maybe you just plain forget to put on the sunscreen!

Luckily, there are a few good ways to soothe your skin after you get burnt.

Take a Cool Shower

The first thing to do is take a cool shower or bath, especially if you were swimming. You’ll want to get any chlorine or seaweed off of your body. Cool water (as opposed to hot or cold) should feel pretty good; just make sure you set the shower head at a low pressure or the water will sting!

Note that a bath may be even more soothing – it will still clean off any sweat and chlorine, but relaxing in the tub for a while may relieve some pain and bring your skin/body temperature back down.

The Aloe Vera Plant

Step away from the medicine cabinet and step towards your house plants. If you have an aloe vera plant, take a leaf off. Then split that leaf in half, lengthwise, and rub the aloe vera goo onto the sunburn. If it hurts to touch the sunburn, you can simply squeeze the liquid out of the leaf so it drips onto the burn.

That’s the best remedy there is – if you don’t have your own aloe vera plant, get one! (Really, they make great house plants.)

Try Tea Bags

This is a great way to soothe your skin even if you don’t have a sunburn. After making yourself some tea, take the tea bags and rest them on your eyelids. This is about the only safe way to treat sunburn on your eyelids. Patting them around your face works well, too. (Just make sure the tea bags have cooled off and aren’t still scalding hot!)

If you want to soothe a larger area, make a big pot of tea, and once it cools off, soak a washcloth right in the tea. Then you can spread the washcloth across your face, neck, shoulders, etc.

The same healthy antioxidants that make tea work so well from within your body (destroying free radicals) also do wonders on the outside of your body.


Vinegar seems to be an all-purpose potion, doesn’t it? You can cook and clean with it, use it to lose weight, and you can also use it to soothe a sunburn.

Just put some distilled white vinegar on a cotton ball and wipe it on the sunburn. It should soothe the itching and burning.

Skin Lotions

While lotions aren’t as good as pure aloe vera, there are some good options out there that are supposed to work well. (And some people swear by them.)

Me personally, I swear by Topricin’s After Burn Cream (which I reviewed here). It has healed some of my nasty sunburns very quickly.

There are other options as well.

Aubrey Organics provides two products that should make you feel better: Pure Aloe Vera and After Sun Body & Face Maintenance Moisturizer.

There is also Corn Husker’s Lotion, available at most pharmacies. It’s for dry hands, but it will soothe dry, chapped skin no matter what caused it.

Want hospital-level burn relief? Try BURNAID gel, which contains Melaleuca Oil and provides fast relief while aiding the healing process. (You probably won’t find this locally, but it’s on Amazon.)

Take an Oatmeal Bath

If you want to soothe your skin even more, take a soothing oatmeal bath.

Start by putting two cups of rolled oats in a blender or food processor, and blend them into a fine powder (i.e. oat flour). Then just pour the oat flour into a warm bath, mix it in, and then hop in yourself. You should soak in the bath for 30 minutes for maximum effect.

There you have it, six good ways to soothe a painful sunburn. But next time, remember to use your sunscreen!

This article was first published Aug 20, 2007. It was last updated and re-published on May 8, 2018.

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  1. oh wow I had not realised there were so many remedies.

  2. o2rifik works on sunburn in less than 10 minutes. It doesn’t hav anything harmful in it and it feels like misting cool water on the skin. It works was and doesn’t sting. Good for after shaving too.

    this is the web site


  4. I haven’t gotten a sunburn in years, so I really wasn’t concerned about putting on sunscreen when I went to the beach today with my kids. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side today. Though I slathered the kiddies with sunscreen, I didn’t use it and ended up looking like a lobster after 3 hours at the beach, being buried in the sand and swimming in the ocean and whatnot. I forgot how much it hurts. Luckily none is on my back so I can still lay down tonight! I’ve already taken a cool shower, slathered myself with aloe vera, and put tea bags on my poor cooked eyelids. Maybe I’ll try some of the other remedies tomorrow. And from now on I’ll remember the sunscreen! 😀

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