3 Common Sunburn Remedies: Vinegar, Oatmeal and 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 homemade sunburn remedies use items you most likely already have in the house. They won't cure your sunburn (unfortunately, only time can take care of that), but they should ease your pain, and make it easier for you to live with the redness while your skin heals itself.

There is one caveat to note: You should always see a doctor if your sunburn is accompanied by fever, chills or blisters. These symptoms could be signs of sun poisoning, a serious condition you should never try treating at home.

Vinegar as a Sunburn Home Remedy

Because vinegar is acidic and sour smelling, you probably wouldn't think of it as something you'd want to put on sensitive, sunburned skin, but surprisingly, vinegar can help quite a bit.

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar work equally well for this, so use whichever you happen to have on hand. If you have a spray bottle handy, fill it with vinegar and spray your sunburned skin every few hours (or whenever the pain and discomfort returns). The acetic acid in the vinegar soothes and moisturizes sunburned skin – just what you need to feel better. It also has the added benefit of minimizing the unsightly peeling that will come later on.

Just don't spray your face with vinegar because it may get in your eyes. Instead, gingerly apply the vinegar to your face with a cotton ball, a washcloth or a paper towel. You can also use these to apply vinegar to the rest of your skin, if you don't have a spray bottle handy. At the risk of stating the obvious, don't reuse a spray bottle that once contained a chemical or any other irritating ingredients. It's best to start with a fresh bottle, if you can. Just pick one up at the dollar store, and you'll be all set.

Oatmeal to Soothe Sunburned Skin

You probably have oatmeal in your pantry, and you may have even taken an oatmeal bath to soothe your skin, if you've ever had chicken pox, but did you know oatmeal works just as well for sunburned skin? It's true.

To give this home remedy a try, just cook up a pot of oatmeal according to the directions on the package. Be sure to use plain oatmeal. You don't want to use anything with sugar or flavorings. Add extra water to the mixture 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 off with cool water, and repeat as often as necessary (using fresh oatmeal for each application).

This has the potential to be messy, so consider applying the oatmeal while standing in the shower. This will make washing it off convenient, too.

Baking Soda Soak for Sunburn

Baking soda is another common household ingredient that you can use to take the sting out of your sunburn.

There are two ways to use baking soda for this purpose. Using it in the bath is one option. Simply fill up your tub with water that's cool to the touch, and as it's filling, add one cup of baking soda. Then, relax in the tub for a while, and your skin should start to feel better.

Another option is to mix the baking soda with water to create a paste that you can apply directly to your skin. If you'd like to go this route, start by placing half a cup of baking soda in a mixing bowl. Then, add a small amount of cool water until the mixture forms a paste that you can spread on your skin. Apply the mixture, and leave it on for around 15 minutes. Then, wash it off with more cool water. As you can imagine this will be messy, so be prepared for that.