The single most effective way to get rid of a sunburn

Well this is my first instructable, and is only going to be short because its an extremly easy and effective method to removing a painful sunburn. This method was recommended to me by my friends mother, who is a nurse and therefore MUST know what shes talking about. Turns out she did. I hope this helps many a painful sunburn to receed or dissapear.
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Step 3: Healing the wound

Once the water has cooled to a warm/lukewarm temperature, dunk the rag into the tea, and dab it onto the sunburn. DO NOT WIPE IT OFF! Leave it on and let it be absorbed into your skin. Once its dry, re-apply as necessary, but never wash it off. If you do this process before bedtime, you can go to sleep and give it time to work its magic. In the morning you can wash it off in your shower. The sunburn should be substancialy subsided or all gone, but remember: the sooner you can apply the tea after you get the burn, the quicker and more effective it will be.

Note: I had a severe sunburn and I also used the tea bags straight up, dabbing them directly onto my skin. You may use as many "coats" of tea as you want, but the more the better.
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jrh1436 years ago
I just tried this remedy on a two-day-old lobster belly, and WOW! what a fantastic difference! Only difference: I didn't have earl grey tea, so I used what was on hand, which is plain old Lipton ice tea bags. I used seven of the small (not family size) bags. I got almost immediate relief from my constant itching, which was making me think I was going to lose my mind (assuming I had something there to lose in the first place). I have posted this remedy to another site (wiki answers, I think) with credit given. Thank you very much for your helpful advice!
drpepper8412 (author)  jrh1436 years ago
Wow, thats wonderful! I'm so pleased that it worked that well, especially on an old burn! Could you send me the link to where you reposted the remedy?
Just wanted to add that this remedy did NOT keep the burn from peeling. I currently look like a two-toned leper. I am still quite pleased with the instant itch relief this remedy gave me, but does anyone out there know how to keep burnt skin from peeling? Seems like I never go from honky white to tan without passing immediately through bright red and then peeling back to honky white + 1 shade darker. If I find the answer to this question "out there" I'll come back and post it here. Thanks again!
pcanywii jrh1432 months ago
Take a band aid and take an Aloe leaf and squeez the gel out. Especially if it is dead because it is liquid. Put it on and it's comfortable... Just what a friend said.

aloe is a liquid they just make it a gel

Real aloe comes from the Aloe plant as a thick gel.

When I had my super bad sun poisoning episode in my visit to SoCali (I'm a flatlander normally, hundreds of miles from a beach!!), the school nurse did use raw aloe vera - sent several of the leaves home with me to apply as needed. I had burns and blisters over all my back and upper legs and back of knees, prolly 50% or more of my body so A) didn't really have a way to get the aloe carefully applied to my back and was at the mercy of fellow dormmates and b) once the aloe dried, I had to go soak in the shower to reactive the aloe gels still remaining. We also found Fruit of the Earth brand of 100% pure aloe at the drug store and had the same issue, that I had to "reactivate" it, or like put more water on it so the gel would rehydrate and then feel good again. When the gel dries, it pulled on my skin and hurt again. So it was kind of a mix bag of success and additional pain. I'd have no problem doing it again now if it was smaller patches of skin where I can easily moisten it to keep the aloe working. And yes, from the plant, it was a thick gel - from the drug store bottle it was a bit thinned down but still would dry out...

olive oil... not only does it heal the redness and pain overnight you won't peel. After a shower put olive oil on the burns and leave overnight.

Olive Oil is WONDERFUL for so many things!!! I just answered another comment on this same page, discussing how I used tallow for a poison ivy episode this last fall and I mentioned Tallow was one of the things I used for relief. But in fact, in addition to the tallow, I discovered that the ONLY things that felt good to heal the itchy blisters from the poison ivy were NATURAL substances - the NACV, Olive Oil, lamb tallow, raw honey, magnesium oil, coconut oil, bathing in epson salts (magnesium), that sort of thing. I will definitely have to remember to use olive oil if I ever get sunburned again out of my own stupidity. (oh and frequent applications of coconut oil help PREVENT sun burn. It's only got a SPF of like 3 or 4 but it does protect when applied frequently!!).

Olive oil on a fresh burn will keep the heat in the skin. This will cause the burn to get worse, because your now cooking yourself slowly in olive oil.

really that is not the case it really helps you heal - If I was slowly cooking myself it would have gotten worse- which wasn't the case. Next morning- no redness, no pain, no peeling. I lived next to the beach, I use it all the time.

Hey, it's like 6 years later, but recently I read a blog that discussed sunburn healing without peeling. I have avoided being sunburn in recent years (after the most awful sunburn during spring break 1980 in SoCalif where I literally had blisters and sick to my stomach and school doctor diagnosed it as "sun poisoning")... but this blog discusses Natural Apple Cider Vinegar (NACV) rather than tea bags. However, I've used both NACV and Tea bags for the minor sunburns that I occasionally still have and it does work. The main difference in this blog is the use of lamb tallow (which the blog discusses where to obtain, although I have also found it online at Amazon) as the additional step to prevent the peeling. I have not done that for sunburns - since I have avoided sunburns for the most part, but I will tell you after last fall's episode with poison ivy outbreak, the tallow I had was the most soothing and healing product I found on my poison ivy blisters. So... be careful with the sun, but if you've overdone it, here's a blink...(oops, blog link - so I guess "blog" plus "link" equals "blink"? except we already use blink to describe whatwe do with our eyes. Whatever!).

Here's the link:

hopefully this helps!! and be careful in the sun!! We do need some sun for Vitamin D but do it in 10-20 minute increments in the morning before 10 am or afternoons after 4 pm! (I know, I know, it's easier said than done, especially when you are having fun at the beach, pool, lake, playing volleyball, whatever!!). :)

When I was young, my sunburns use to peel. Now, I use a aloe vera after sun lotion. Banana Boat is good or a store brank is ok too. Also Aloe Vera Gel helps cool the burn.

tovey jrh1432 months ago

The skin is peeling because it is dead.

If you want to prevent peeling, you have to prevent the burn to begin with. The best way to do this is with a long sleeve shirt that you keep handy. When you start feeling the sun on your skin feel hot, to the point that you may burn, you have to put the shirt on for a couple of hours. While this is not the best way to keep cool on a hot summer day, it is the best way to keep from burning.

I did this one year while working at a camp because I didn't want to deal with getting sun burned to begin with. When I went down to Florida that same fall, I was actually darker than many of the Floridians I came into contact with.

You could try lotion with Aloe Vera in it, but at this stage of the game, I don't think you can avoid the peeling.

smunoz5 jrh1432 months ago

If you put ice, and half vinigar, half water into a wash basin. Grab a soft wash cloth or hand towel. thoroughly wet the towel wring it out mostly and drape it over the sun burn. when u remove the towel it will be super hot rinse it in the basin again and reapply. this usually turns the sunburn into tan without peeling, but it really depends on how bad the burn is. Either way its instant relief. also make sure when you are done using the vinigar and water that you moisturize your skin.

The best I've been able to do to keep a burn from peeling is to slather it in Oil of Olay type moisturiser (Mal-Wart's Equate brand works just as well). Every time the toasted skin starts feeling or looking tight, hit the moisturiser until the skin won't take any more. You'll be vaguely sticky for a couple of days, but if you've kept the skin well hydrated, the peeling should be minimal. Of course, if anyone's got a DIY method with comparable results, I'm all (slightly pink) ears. ;D
Sure! It is at:
Mine is currently still the last one on the page, signed John Hance. Thank you for the helpful tip! It is one I will be handing down to my kids and passing on to all my family and friends.
I've been on instructables for a few months now and it took a wiki answers site to send me to this... and right when i needed it... my girl thinks i'm addicted but this site really does have a bit of everything.
My dad thinks that I should sip using this website cause I'm addicted to video games and he thinks I'm researching video games, which I am!
drpepper8412 (author)  TorinMiasma5 years ago
Glad you found it! Once summer starts up, I always tend to get a lot more comments, so I'm glad it could help with one of the first burns of summer!
THE NURSE7 years ago
Please DO NOT take hot showers after a sunburn. This is a BURN and hot water can make it worse d/t nerve ending damage, u can't really tell how hot the water is. Cool water helps bring down the temperature of your skin. The tannic acid in the tea bag soothes the skin; this is a great remedy for any 1st degree burn. If you suffer a really bad burn seek medical attention, please!! Dehydration/burned skin is serious and u may need fluid replacement. Tea bag treatment is also great for itching burning feet!!!!
drpepper8412 (author)  THE NURSE7 years ago
Thank you very much for this! Im glad that you posted this so people now understand how dangerous some of their other methods are.

FYI, if you can afford to use a whole bag of family tea bags and you have a deep garden tub like I do, then steeping the whole box in a hot bath and climbing in when the water becomes tepid is a great way to do this. Lay in the tub for at least an hour.

Today was hell for me. I had the worst sunburn itch. If you don't have blisters and your sunburn itches, a warm/hot shower works. Make sure the temperature isn't so hot as to burn you, but after the shower, the itch will be gone. I know because this just happened to me. Also of course, Aloe Vera and cold showers are good too.
cindi594 years ago
I did this last spring when I forgot to put on sunscreen while gardening. I wasn't burnt to a blister state but was uncomfortable on my shoulders to sleep! I made 4 bags of plain lipton tea in a glass two cup measuring cup. I let it cool and started by dipping a washcloth in and after wringing (not completely, just to not drip) it out I dabbed. Instant difference! I was able to cool the burn enough to sleep. I left the tea in the cup and in the middle of the night when I got woke up in pain I did it again. The next morning the majority of the sunburn was gone. I did use the tea on the more burned part over the next day. Instead of days of soreness, I had one! My kids have done the same since! It isn't a cure of course but It sure helps!
sickdog744 years ago
It worked for me! Here's what it did: I used 4 tea bags (earl grey) in a large tea cup. Microwaved the 4 bags with water for 2.5 minutes. Let cool, swish around. You now have a very very very strong cup of tea. Dabbed on my sunburned face. Repeated every 45 minutes or so until bedtime. Probably did it 8 or 9 times before bedtime. In the morning, I was tanned but not burned! I went from lobster red to tanned in 12 hours!
drpepper8412 (author)  sickdog744 years ago
Congrats! I'm so glad it works so well for so many other people! =D
JessicaW112 days ago

This didn't work at all. We dabbed and dabbed and dabbed until half the pitcher was gone and the burned person was just too tired and needed to go to bed. This morning she got up and took a shower, washed it off, and it was still just as nasty a burn as it was before -- no fading of the red, and still quite painful. What a waste of time, energy and good tea.

To comment on the Olive Oil, or any type of oil on a sunburn- DO NOT DO IT. oil keeps heat trapped inside the skin and makes the sunburn worse. This comes from every dermatologist ever. it's dermo 101. Olive oil is great on skin if it is not burned. NEVER use any lotions or products with oil in them on a sunburn. I am saving someone a very bad night of painful burning.

mslack22 days ago

I don't have any black tea so I'm going to try it with chamomile. My face and I hope it works.

crank_girl29 days ago
I find that a shower as hot as I can bear it gets rid of my sunburn proto.

Look for a lotion/gel that has aloe vera and vitamin E in it. Aloe vera will soothe the pain and vitamin E will heal the burnt skin. Because sensitive layers of skin are exposed be sure to choose a lotion/gel that is natural and doesn't contain a concoction of fillers and chemicals because that will irritate the sensitive skin. I have helped many friends heal their burns with little pain and only minimal peeling. Feel free to PM me if you want recommendations on what to do.

cool925821 month ago

thx it releived my sunburn

ned1032 months ago

This is actually and old wives tale that works. We used to do this when we were kids. My dad called my grandma and asked her what she used to do for him when he got burned bad. He was born in '32 and my grandma said that her mom did it for her too. So this remedy has been around even longer than that. Great ible. Thank you for sharing.

ned103 ned1032 months ago

I forgot to mention that we used regular Lipton tea bags but made the tea very, very strong.

If you just itch from a burn or you got into something that made you itch put 1 cup of oat meal into cheese cloth , pantyhose and run a hot bath or as warm as you can stand put the oat meal in and let it turn the bath white and soak it will relieve the itch. If you are allergic seek medical help.!!!!! But for minor stuff it works great and it great for your skin and will put a lot of moisture back into your skin. Oh any kind of oat meal works! and putting it into something saves the pipes from clogging as it swells.

npenick2 months ago

someone told me that it's better to use green tea because it helps to return moisture to your skin

ysabet npenick2 months ago

Nope-- you *want* tannin, it's what does the work; and the darker the tea, the more tannin it has in it. Green tea has some tannin so it'll help, but not nearly as much as black tea does.

alba1002 months ago

I live in Queensland Australia, where we probably have the highest incidence of Skin cancers in the World.

The best treatment for sunburn is to AVOID it. That means you need to wear a hat and regularly apply sunscreen to exposed areas and know what your sunscreen is designed to do. It will have a rating, SPF 30, SPF 50 etc, this is the level of protection it offers, and of course it needs to be regularly reapplied, but even so, you cannot spend all day in the sun and not pay a price.

Outdoor workers, wear long sleeved shirts and trousers, with built in sun protection and broad brimmed hats, the days of shorts and tee shirts for workers are long gone.

I would note the teabag remedy, as allieviating the symptom of sunburn, when you are lobster red, the damage has already been done.

Without boring you with details, skin damage which might result in skin cancer, happens before the age of 25, though the cancers may not appear for another 20-25+ years.

So enjoy the sun, enjoy your tea and stay safe, but keep the sunscreen close

ysabet alba1002 months ago

**nods** These days I live in Tucson AZ (the Sonoran Desert), and when tourists come here they tend to instantly fling on the shorts and tank-tops and eye us locals wearing hats and loose long-sleeved shirts with amused bafflement. And then they end up in an Urgent Care or ER and wonder how we deal with the heat..... Loose layers are the best, and be sure to cover your head; you don't know pain until you have to deal with a sunburned scalp! (It can make your hair fall out too.) Don't forget to sunblock your feet if you wear sandals also. I've known so many people here who've had to have skin cancers removed; and those were the lucky ones.

That being said, if you *do* end up burning, the tea remedy is really excellent.

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