Sunburn Home Remedies: Vinegar, Oatmeal, Baking Soda

Get too much sun? Here's how to make your skin feel better

Folk remedies for sunburn
Getty Images/Image(s) by Sara Lynn Paige

If your skin is red and painful because you spent too much time in the sun, you'll be glad to know there are some easy home remedies you can use to make yourself feel better.

These ideas to help your sunburn use items you're likely to have in the house already. They won't cure your sunburn (unfortunately, only time will do that), but they should ease the pain and stinging, and make it easier for you to live with the redness while your skin heals.

One caveat: See a doctor if your sunburn is accompanied by fever, chills or blisters. These could be signs of sun poisoning, a serious condition you should never try to treat at home.

Vinegar as Home Sunburn Remedy

Vinegar is acidic and sour, and so you probably wouldn't think of it as something you'd want to put on sunburned skin. But surprisingly, it can help quite a bit. ... and most people already have some sort of vinegar in the house.

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar work equally well for this. If you have a spray bottle handy, fill it with vinegar and spray your sunburned skin every few hours (or whenever the sunburned feeling returns). The acetic acid in vinegar soothes and moisturizes sunburned skin – just what you need to feel better now, and minimize unsightly peeling later.

Don't spray your face (the vinegar will hurt your eyes). Instead, apply the vinegar to your face with a cotton ball, a washcloth or a strong paper towel.

You can use these to apply vinegar to the rest of your skin, as well, if you can't find a spray bottle. (Make sure not to use a spray bottle that has contained other chemicals.)

Oatmeal to Soothe Sunburned Skin

You probably have oatmeal in your pantry, and you may even have heard of oatmeal baths for your skin.

But did you realize oatmeal is also a tried-and-true sunburn remedy?

To try this, cook up a pot of oatmeal according to the directions on the package (use only plain, non-instant oatmeal). Add extra water so that your oatmeal is runnier than it normally would be, and cook it until the grains are very soft.

Then, apply the oatmeal to the burned places on your skin and leave it on for a while. Rinse with cool water and repeat as often as necessary (using fresh oatmeal each time).

Baking Soda Soak for Sunburn

Baking soda is another common household item you most likely have on hand, and it also can help to soothe a bad sunburn.

There are two ways to use baking soda for this purpose. First, you can use it in the bath. Fill up your tub with water that's cool to the touch, and as it's filling, add one cup of baking soda. Relax in the tub for a while, and your skin should start to feel better.

Alternatively, you can mix the baking soda into a paste to apply directly to your skin (as with oatmeal, this can be messy). Start with a half-cup of baking soda in a mixing bowl, and add cool water until the mixture is thin enough to spread on your sunburned skin. Apply and leave it on for around 15 minutes, then wash it off with cool water.