13 Kitchen Remedies that Fight Sunburn

Soothe--or prevent--scorching sunburn with common kitchen ingredients. Soothe--or prevent--scorching sunburn with common kitchen ingredients. No one sets out to get sunburned, but the pleasant distractions of summer--the long, sunny days, the beckoning beach, losing track of time in the garden--all make it easy to forget that extra coat of sunscreen, or the need to take a break in the shade. Of course, it's best to practice sunburn prevention and stop a burn before it starts, given its ability to cause skin cancer and premature aging. Luckily, common foods in your kitchen possess sun-protection compounds to aid your current sun-protection routine. Others may not help prevent sunburn but offer surprising relief if you do accidentally catch too many rays.

Check out these natural food remedies to deal with--or prevent--summer sunburns...

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POTATOES
Burn-fighting effect:
Overindulging in potatoes may be a no-no if you're trying to lose weight, but keep a few on hand in case a sunburn strikes. The potato's starchy compounds will help take the sting out of sunburn.

Sunburn treatment: Cut a raw potato into slices and rub a piece on your most painful sunburned spots. For a more intensive treatment, grate a cold raw potato and apply it as a poultice.

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OATMEAL
Burn-fighting effect:
When your whole body is sunburned, oatmeal provides the best type of relief.

Sunburn treatment:
Grind up a cup of oatmeal in a food processor, add it to cool bathwater, and soak. You can also wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze, run cool water through it, and then toss the oatmeal and soak compresses in the liquid, applying every 2 to 4 hours.

Green Tea
Burn-fighting effect:
The milk creates a protein film on your skin that will help ease the discomfort of fresh sunburn.

Sunburn treatment: Apply cool, not cold, milk to your skin using a clean cloth or gauze. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes, and repeat every 2 to 4 hours.

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POMEGRANATE
Burn-fighting effect:
Pomegranates are a rich source of ellagic acid, which can help protect your skin from UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage, according to research from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University.

Sunburn treatment:
Indulge in pomegranates during the summer months. The fruit's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could help add another layer of sun protection to your routine.

STRAWBERRIES
Burn-fighting effect:
The berries' tannin content helps reduce the sting of a sunburn.
Sunburn treatment: Mash a few ripened strawberries and slather on sunburns for natural relief. Rinse off after a few minutes. If you'd rather not go the fruit route to avoid stickiness, you can make a paste out of cornstarch and water and slather it over sunburned skin for relief, too.

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CUCUMBERS
Burn-fighting effect:
Cucumbers offer sunburn relief on par with store-bought sunburn-relief products, without added with chemical preservatives and harmful fragrances.

Sunburn treatment: If you're already burned, mash a cucumber and apply it to your skin. Dian Dincin Buchman, Ph.D., author of The Complete Herbal Guide to Natural Health and Beauty, suggests cucumber can provide sun protection in a pinch, too. Grab an organic cucumber from the garden or farmers' market, peel and chop, and then squeeze the juice. Mix it with glycerin and rosewater for protection from the sun.

GUAVAS
Burn-fighting effect:
An antioxidant-rich diet could help prep your skin for more potent sun protection before you even step foot outside. One guava contains about five times the amount of vitamin C, a skin-healing antioxidant, as a medium-sized orange.

Sunburn treatment: Enjoy a guava here and there, but work more local vitamin-C-rich foods into your diet, too, including bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli.

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WHITE VINEGAR
Burn-fighting effect:
White vinegar's acetic acid acts like a topical nonsterioidal anti-inflammatory drug (think aspirin and ibuprofen).

Sunburn treatment: If you're red (just not blistered), dab a bit of distilled white vinegar onto your sunburn. It will kill the pain for about 20 minutes.

TOMATOES
Burn-fighting effect:
As if you need another reason to indulge in organic tomatoes from your farmers' market or garden. Turns out the red gems help protect your skin from sun damage. In one study, volunteers who ate 5 tablespoons of lycopene-rich tomato paste daily for 3 months enjoyed 25 percent more natural protection against sunburn.
Sunburn treatment:
Indulge in fresh tomatoes and add organic ketchup to meals for a lycopene burst.

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CALENDULA
Burn-fighting effect:
This easy-to-grow plant is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that ease burns, including sunburn.
Sunburn treatment:
Make a poultice of calendula blossoms and apply to sunburn to help accelerate healing.

ALOE
Burn-fighting effect:
Aloe is popular in many health drinks, but the succulent plant shows promise in sunburn relief, too.
Sunburn treatment: Break off a leaf and apply the juice to your sunburned skin. (Test a small spot first to make sure you're not allergic.) If you don't have an aloe plant in the house, buy a bottle of pure aloe vera gel at a pharmacy, chill it in the fridge, and apply.

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LETTUCE
Burn-fighting effect:
Lettuce's natural pain-killing properties can help wipe away sunburn pain.
Sunburn treatment: Boil lettuce leaves in water. Strain, then let the liquid cool for several hours in the refrigerator. Once chilled, dip cotton balls into the lettuce water and gently wipe over irritated skin.

FAT-FREE MILK
Burn-fighting effect:
The milk creates a protein film on your skin that will help ease the discomfort of fresh sunburn.
Sunburn treatment: Apply cool, not cold, milk to your skin using a clean cloth or gauze. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes, and repeat every 2 to 4 hours.

TELL US: What do you typically do for sunburn?

By Leah Zerbe, Prevention

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