The sun emits two types of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation: UVA and UVB. Both can burn the skin, causing reddening and inflammation. It’s the UVB rays that cause immediate sunburn.

  • MILD SUNBURN. Pink or reddish skin that feels hot and tender to the touch.
  • MODERATE SUNBURN. Red skin with small fluid-filled blisters that may itch and eventually break.
  • SEVERE SUNBURN. Deep red to purplish skin with or without blisters accompanied by chills, fever, headache, nausea, dizziness, or dehydration.
FOR MILD BURNS (no broken skin or blistering)
  • Chamomile oil and lavender oil (10 drops each) can be added to a cool bath; soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • A lukewarm bath containing 1 cup of dissolved baking soda; soak for at least 10 minutes.
  • Fresh aloe vera gel, calendula cream, chamomile cream or chamomile oil, and lavender oil can be topically applied to sunburned skin to soothe irritation and speed up healing.
FOR MODERATE BURNS (small areas of blistering that make infection a concern)
  • Rub sterile calendula cream into a gently cleaned area to lessen inflammation and help prevent infection.
  • Mix a few drops of chamomile oil or lavender oil (or both) with half an ounce of almond oil. Apply gently to the affected areas twice a day.
  • A topical Vitamin E cream will help promote heating and prevent scarring. Make your own by breaking open a capsule and mixing the oil with 1 tablespoon of moisturizing cream.
  • Apply flaxseed oil topically to reduce inflammation. Take orally to promote overall skin health and texture.

Do not attempt self-treatment for extensive sunburn with severe symptoms. Go to an emergency room or an immediate-care center, or your doctor!

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