How far would you be willing to go to ease the pain of a nasty sunburn? By the looks of it, you might end up in a very unorthodox bathtub situation.
Soak in milk
“Soaking in milk will have a drawing effect on a burn—it’s due to the pH, fat, and cold temperatures,” says Francesca Fusco, MD of Wexler Dermatology in New York City. If you don’t have enough milk handy to fill up an entire basin, simply soak a washcloth in a bowl of cool milk, then gently lay the milky compresses on the burnt areas of your body. The milk will help create a protein film along your skin that reduces heat, pain, and sensitivity. Want to avoid getting sunburned in the first place? Avoid these common sunblock mistakes.
Refrigerate a tub of Vaseline
“When you have a sunburn, it is important to keep your skin well-hydrated and moisturized, as it will improve the pain and accelerate the healing process,” says Samer Jaber, MD of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City. “A great trick is putting Vaseline in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it goes on cold. The cold will soothe your sunburn, and the Vaseline will help restore your skin barrier, improving the healing process.” Find out the sunscreen myths that make dermatologists cringe.
Take an oatmeal bath
One of the worst side effects of a bad sunburn is the insatiable urge to itch peeling skin. To stop yourself and soothe the burn, run a lukewarm bath and add at least one cup of finely ground oats. Use your hand to swirl the water and distribute the oatmeal, then soak for 15 to 20 minutes. “Oatmeal is a humectant, meaning it helps moisturize skin, and it contains inflammation-quelling compounds,” Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston-based dermatologist, told Prevention. You’ll enjoy the itching relief so much that you’ll probably want to repeat this oatmeal bath a few times a day. Here’s more about how to treat a burn—sun-induced or otherwise—using oats.
Create your own topical cream
“For an isolated area like a finger or your lips, dissolve an Aspirin in a tablespoon of cool water and make a paste. Apply to the affected area,” advises Dr. Fusco. (Be careful not to lick your lips because it’s super bitter.) Rinse off the paste after allowing it to sit on the affected area for five minutes. While you’re waiting for it to absorb, you could also take one of those aspirins to ease your pain and inflammation.