What Are the Best Treatments for Sunburn?

You’ve heard it all before. Wear your sunscreen, put on a hat, and pay attention to how much time you spend in the sun. But despite your best efforts, you may still end up with a sunburn. What should you do when it happens? There are a few treatment options that can get you through the pain and on your way to recovery.

Rehydrate Your Skin By Taking a Bath

Take a cool bath but forget the soap. Soap can dry out your skin, and when you’re sunburned, that’s the last thing you want to do. If you must use soap, use a gentle brand that’s good for sensitive skin. You can also opt for an oatmeal bath. Researchers have found that colloidal oatmeal can help stop inflammation and stop itching.

Ice Your Sunburned Skin

If you want something cold, go for it, but make sure you do it right. Wrap a wet cloth around an ice pack and hold it on the burn. This will take some of the heat away from your skin, tighten your blood vessels, and reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

You could also use ice-cold water. Pour water and ice into a bowl, soak a cloth in the liquid, and place the cloth over the burn. Do this every few minutes until the cloth is warm. For quick relief, use the compress several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use frozen veggies for a flexible ice pack.

Moisturize Consistently

After you get out of the tub, rub on some natural bath oil or a good moisturizing cream. Wait a few minutes after your bath and use a good cream that will lock in the moisture. If you skip the lotion, your skin may feel drier than it did before. A good tip is to put your moisturizer in the refrigerator. The cooling effect will make it feel better. Avoid things with petroleum in them, like Vaseline, because they can trap heat. If you need options, talk with your physician.


Treatment for sunburn will not repair your skin, but it will alleviate the pain, swelling, and discomfort caused by the burn. If the treatment you are receiving at home isn’t helping, or if your sunburn is particularly severe, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid cream that you can only get with a prescription.

If you have a serious sunburn, your doctor may decide to admit you to the hospital for treatment.