Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Too much sun

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we, or our kids, get burnt while enjoying a day in the sun. My daughter is on vacation in Savannah. She and her husband decided to spend the day at the beach on Tybee Island.

"Don't get burnt again," I warned her on the phone today.

"I won't," she assured me. We even rented an umbrella to keep me in the shade."

Relieved, I didn't give it any more thought, other than a quick reminiscence back to 2001 when she asked me to go to Savannah with her on vacation in lieu of her going on a senior trip with friends. I was honored and thrilled to go.

So just the two of us headed out by car for the 700+ mile drive. We grabbed a copy of the audiobook, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, from the library to accompany us on the way down.

On one of our first days there, we hit the beach on Tybee Island where she got severely burnt. She spent the next day or two moaning and groaning on the bed in the hotel. Not fun.

Of course, those were during my pre-Green Grandma days, and I was grossly unaware of all of the natural treatments for sunburn.

So, rather than just sharing what I've discovered with her via text message, I thought I'd share it with you as well.

Baking soda

Just dissove about a quarter cup in a bathtub of warm water and slip into the silky, healing liquid. This will help balance your skin's pH.

Apple cider vinegar or Distilled White Vinegar

Yes, I know it's not Vinegar Friday, but this tip is too good to pass up right now. Dump two cups of ACV into a bath and ease your body in for a 15 minute or so soaking. Again, this is good for the pH balance of your skin and will cool and soothe the burn.

Soak washcloths or small towels in the DWV and put them on your skin where you're burned.

The vinegar needs to be applied as quickly as possible. It is virtually ineffective on the day after your day of fun in the sun. Sorry.

Vanilla extract (not vanilla flavor extract)

Applying vanilla extract directly on the burn will lessen the redness and provide relief. Of course, this is a bit pricey, so you'll want to use it sparingly.


Whether you buy the pure plant gel or break off a stem of the plant, applying aloe can help ease the pain.

Aloe actually works to stimulate your skin's cellular metabolism.

Lavender oil

Caution: DO NOT USE THIS REMEDY IF PREGNANT! Lavender can cause miscarriage.

While most essential oils require a carrier oil before being applied to the skin, lavender oil does not. Apply it directly to the burn and enjoy both the soothing relief and the aromatherapeutic calming benefits to your frayed emotions.


These remedies are for your typical run-of-the-mill sunburns, not for more severe burns. If you suspect you could have sun poisoning or if your burns are serious, get to the ER. As with all of my advice, never take it over the advice of a physician. Of course, you want to drink lots of water to help avoid dehydration. Caffeine and alcohol will only aggravate the dehydration problem.

The best way to treat a sunburn is to avoid a sunburn. We all know we should be protected when we go out in the sun, and sunscreen is the usual mode of protection. However, there are quite a few you need to avoid.

Tomorrow I'll address the issue of sunscreen safety.

Keeping it green (not red!),


Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

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