Bad Sunburn? Treat Sun-burnt Skin with Ayurveda
Updated: Jan 15
I love the beach, but even as an adult, being prudent with sunscreen can be a challenge when you’re trying to rest and relax. Even under an umbrella we can still get bad sunburn! Last night, my sister called me after a day at the beach. She forgot to cover some areas of her skin with sunscreen. Oh no! On our FaceTime call, she showed me the redness, puffiness and irritation on her face and asked if Ayurveda could help with sunburn. Yes, Ayurveda can help with a bad sunburn! (Ayurveda can help with everything, btw!)
WHAT IS SUNBURN ACCORDING TO AYURVEDA?
Given the heat and power of the sun, in Ayurveda we correlate the sun to the fire sign, agni. As a reminder in Ayurveda, we’re always seeking ways to achieve balance. Given that summertime is when the sun is already hot and its strongest potency, it’s important that we’re mindful of protecting our skin and our body during this aggravating time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next, but we all know what a day with too much sun feels like: dehydrated, dizzy, faint, exhausted, emotionally irritated, etc.
When get sunburned, we received a dose of too much fire. We truly cannot handle all the heat. Maybe you’ve read in the past that getting sun is great source of Vitamin D, which is true, but that’s usually met after approximately 10 minutes in the sun.
Further, many dermatologists recommend that when you go outside, you should be careful to avoid sun rays during the peak time of day.
Assuming you’re reading this now, and it’s too late. Maybe you just got back from the beach and are feeling the sizzle on your skin and the lobster-colored complexion on your face. Sunburn. Instead of focusing on how to prevent this in the future, let’s give you a few ways to find immediate relief. Below are a few items around the home that can immediately help to reduce that fire for immediate relief.
TREATING SUNBURN WITH 5 SIMPLE INGREDIENTS
1) Rose water
Water is already inherently cooling, but rose water is an extra dose of cool. According to one of the ancient texts of Ayurveda, when someone is dealing with excess fire, or pitta, the text recommends that the person is taken to a lake with swans and given a glass of rose water to drink. Doesn’t it sound calming just reading that?
You might not have access to a lake with swans, but these days, rose water is pretty accessible. A few application ideas:
Consider having it in a spray bottle that you can spritz on your sunburn as often as you like
Wash your face or sunburnt parts of the body with rose water. Not cheap, but if in an isolated area, it could be nice.
Soak a washcloth in rose water, then allow it to rest on the sunburned skin for 15-20 minutes at a time.
Mint has a magic quality and in-explainable effect on the body (pravhab) . According to Ayurveda, mint is cooling to the skin, but warming when consumed internally. For that reason, it can be considered in treating sunburn. In this case, mind can be a bit sharp, so use cautiously, but it may feel nice if you add it to coconut oil before applying to your skin. Because you don’t need more internal heat, I’d recommend not consuming mint it during a bad sunburn.
Although yogurt is fermented, it’s a nice external applicator to the skin. Its heavy, dense and creamy texture makes for a nice post-sunburned skin face mask or body mask. My brother-in-law also burnt his back that same day; therefore, I suggested that my sister apply some yogurt on his back, then to her face and setting a timer for 20 minutes. If you apply a yogurt mask to your face, you may feel inclined to share some Mrs. Doubtfire quotes. You’ve been warned.
We all know that cucumber is cooling, but why? Ayurveda shares that the cucumber has many kapha-like qualities, such as heavy, cooling and sticky. It can be the perfect complement to hot, dry and dehydrated skin. Try placing a few sliced cucumbers on the affected area(s). It’ll feel so nice. Cut two more slices and cover the eyes while you’re at it. Great after a long day staring at the bright sand.
5) Pitta-pacifying oils
Adding cooling oils can be beneficial after a bad sunburn, including fennel or lavender. One oil that I especially love is Pitta Balancing Body Oil by Pratima Skincare. Their formula uses the pure essential oils of rose and jasmine to soothe, nurture and balance skin.
HEAL YOUR SUNBURN NATURALLY
My hope is that you have at least one of these items in your home that can be put to use immediately. Depending on where we live, some of us may have these products growing in our backyard!
Whether we’re at the beach, the pool or just a fun day in the neighborhood, sunburn happens. Regardless of how good we try to be with our sun exposure, it happens, but hopefully with these ways to treat sunburned skin, your body will be feeling back-to-normal in no time.
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