Summertime Bane – Sunburn!

I don’t know about where you live but it’s HOT here! I don’t care what the thermometer says, when I get out into the sun, it feels scorching. Yes, I try to get out in the mornings and early evenings before & after the sun is high but sometimes that’s not possible with my crazy schedule.

I hate covering up in summer months so wearing the prescribed long sleeves and long pants isn’t an option for me. I haven’t been able to find a good natural substitute so I use a commercial sunscreen…at least I put some on before I go outside. I tend to get involved in what I’m doing and forget to re-apply as directed. Thankfully, I’m blessed with dark-ish skin and rarely burn. Virtually everyone else I know (my children included) aren’t as lucky. Because I’m very concerned about skin cancer and know several people who have had it, I preach sunscreen to everyone I know.

That said, there are a lot of people who either don’t use a sunscreen or, like me, forget to re-apply every couple of hours. Sunburn, however minor, is painful … especially when you change clothes and the new clothing rubs on it. Most folks know that Aloe Vera will soothe any sort of first degree burn. Some are lucky enough to be able to keep an Aloe plant alive in the kitchen. If you’re one of those, simply break off a leaf and squeeze the gel out onto the burn. I’m not, so I keep a bottle of the gel on hand at all times.

One thing I found extremely soothing is Witch Hazel-infused vinegar. I keep that even closer than the Aloe gel. It’s not only great for sunburns but is cooling for all kinds of first degree burns – and I’m a klutz. To infuse vinegar with any herb, put one ounce dried herb or two ounces fresh (by weight) which you’ve crunched up either by hand or in a mortar & pestle (to release all the good stuff) into one pint vinegar – I use cider but white or rice will work fine. I recommend you use a jar without a metal lid. The acid from the vinegar will eat through the metal very quickly. Let it sit in a relatively dark place for 10 days or so, shaking every day. At the end of the 10 days, strain, bottle and refrigerate. It’ll keep for up to 2 months. I have mine in a spray bottle that mists rather than squirts – it feels good. (By the way, this is how you make an herb-infused vinegar to use with olive oil on your salad. Basil and thyme are tasty!)

After the vinegar has evaporated and the burning feeling gone, I put a little Calendula ointment on the burn to help speed the healing process along. I did this to my husband several years ago and he didn’t peel. He’s so fair skinned I think he could almost burn looking at a photo of the sun. Of course, I got him inside before the burn got too bad.

You can also take a bath. Relax for about 10 minutes in a warm (not hot) bath to which you’ve added 1/2 cup Witch Hazel extract (found in the first aid aisle at the store) or one cup Witch Hazel-infused vinegar, plus 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Stay in the shade as much as possible and drink a lot of water during these scorching times!