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When you have a sunburn, there’s little you want more than to know how to heal it quickly.

I know, I know…why am I talking about how to heal a sunburn when common sense says I should’ve just used sunblock in the first place but hey, everyone makes mistakes sometimes!

My mom was in town and we decided to try out a new playground with the kids. Our normal playground is wonderful – shaded, lots of green, close by – but this new park has a fun water element that I thought surely the kids would love (ha!) My babies get sunscreen no matter what park or playground we visit but I rarely never use the stuff. I’ve never needed to! 

Growing up, I was outside constantly. Despite being mostly Polish, I always had a very dark complexion. While applying sunscreen should be a habit, it’s one I struggled with.

tan woman with short brown hair

Well then I had children and my high-needs daughter had me inside 95% of last summer – aka I turned into Casper the Sleepy Ghost. So here we are at a playground with nary a tree in sight and I don’t even THINK to put on sunscreen, even after covering my children in it.

Fast forward to us leaving the playground and I realize I am BURNT. Glowing red, please-don’t-even-look-let-alone-touch fried. I have two toddlers who need be outside for the sake of mommy’s sanity but the idea of going back out into the sun was literally painful.

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sun burnt woman with brown hair and black glasses

How to Heal a Sunburn Quickly at Home

As luck would have it, my mom had brought us an aloe vera plant so of course my first plan of action was to tear that poor plant apart and cover myself in its innards.

Aloe Vera

You can usually find an aloe plant at most garden centers but of course I checked and YES, Amazon sells aloe plants! I’m probably more excited about this than I should be but hey, you know me and my love of shopping online.

If you already have an aloe plant, break off a leaf and carefully slice through the middle, exposing the ooey-gooey salve that will help take away the pain. From here you can either place the leaves directly on your sunburn or do as I did and use it to make a cooling milk compress.

Milk Compress

Milk is great at helping to heal sunburn because it provides immediate relief while also coating your skin in a thin layer of protein to help heal.

To double up on my immediate efforts, I placed a couple thick paper towels in a cup of milk, squeezed out a bit of the excess liquid, then placed them on a plate. From there, I coated the paper towel in the aloe and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. I then placed the towels on my shoulders and WOO! Take that sunburn! To keep from leaking milk and aloe everywhere, I used a couple cloth diaper inserts (which also make for PHENOMENAL burp rags, by the way!)

I was looking really good at this point:

Brown hair woman with sunburn and milk compresses on her shoulders
After repeating this process a couple times, I headed to bed and prayed my bed sheets would absorb the heat radiating from my skin.

No such luck as I woke up still burnt. It wasn’t as bad as it had been the day before, but I was still red and definitely still hurting.

So while my kids ate their breakfast, I put mine on my shoulders. I was desperate this point…

Yogurt for Sunburn Relief

greek yogurt for sunburn relief

I’m a huge fan of Greek Yogurt anyway, though normally I’m eating it and not asking my husband to slather it all over my shoulders. It’s full of probiotics, calcium, protein, and zinc – all of which I knew would help rejuvenate my poor toasted skin.

I suspected the lactic acid in the yogurt would also help keep me from peeling and I was right! Simply scoop up some yogurt and apply a thick layer to your burnt skin. Let it set for about 10-15 minutes and carefully wash off. Feel free to repeat, it feels oh so good!

Don’t have any yogurt? Well, how about oatmeal! (Who knew breakfast foods could be so versatile??)

Oatmeal for Sunburns

Another great way to help soothe a sunburn is to take an oatmeal bath. Bathes are a rarity for me, but they do work well for a sunburn.

Simply blend a cup of oatmeal into a fine powder and add to a tub of lukewarm water. Soak for as long as you’d like (or as long as your children let you!) and pat dry.

If taking bathes isn’t an option for you either, do as I did and use an oatmeal-based lotion (like this eczema cream). Plain coconut oil works great, too, but don’t be too quick to apply it. Wait a day before using it as you don’t want to form a barrier that keeps the heat from escaping your burns.

At this point, I was looking much better, but it’s important to note one of the best things I did – drink water. Lots and LOTS of water!

heal sunburn faster

Heal from the Inside Out

Hopefully you already drink a ton of water, but if not, now is the time to really step up your game. I aim for about 100 oz on a normal day but when I was burnt, I pretty much bounced between the water faucet and the bathroom. Your skin needs to replenish the moisture lost from the burns, so drink lots of water and stay hydrated!

Take care of yourself and do what feels right for you. Don’t rely on these tips to cure your sunburn immediately. Stay out of the sun for as long as you can. More importantly – see your doctor if you are feeling unwell! I am by no means a medical professional and only offer these tips as something that worked well for ME.

What other tips do you have for those seeking a fast way to heal a sunburn?

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