A sunburn is a red, swollen, and painful skin that can happen after being in the sun without skin protection. It can be mild or severe. Sunburn is a risk factor for skin cancer.
It is treated with home care and medicine. It can be prevented by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Some natural therapies may help ease symptoms.
May Be Effective
These therapies may provide benefit:
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A1. Puvabanditsin P, Vongtongsri R. Efficacy of aloe vera cream in prevention and treatment of sunburn and suntan. J Med Assoc Thai. 2005;88 Suppl 4:S173-S176.
Reuter J, Jocher A, et al. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-110.
Feily A, Namazi MR. Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2009;144(1):85-91.
Green Tea Catechins
B1. Rhodes LE, Darby G, et al. Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(5):891-900.
B2. Farrar MD1, Nicolaou A2, et al. A randomized controlled trial of green tea catechins in protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):608-615.
Vitamins C and E
C1. Eberlein-König B, Placzek M, et al. Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998;38(1):45-48.
C2. Puvabanditsin P, Vongtongsri R. Efficacy of topical vitamin C derivative (VC-PMG) and topical vitamin E in prevention and treatment of UVA suntan skin. J Med Assoc Thai. 2006;89 Suppl 3:S65-S68.
C3. Wu Y1, Zheng X, et al. Protective effects of a topical antioxidant complex containing vitamins C and E and ferulic acid against ultraviolet irradiation-induced photodamage in Chinese women. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(4):464-468.
D1. Scott JF, Das LM, et al. Oral vitamin D rapidly attenuates inflammation from sunburn: an interventional study. J Invest Dermatol. 2017;137(10):2078-2086.
E1. Scheuer C, Pommergaard HC, et al. Dose dependent sun protective effect of topical melatonin: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. J Dermatol Sci. 2016 Nov;84(2):178-185.
F1. Mogollon JA, Boivin C, et al. Chocolate flavanols and skin photoprotection: a parallel, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Nutr J. 2014 Jun 27;13:66.
G1. Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta-Carotene--a meta-analysis. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-288.
G2. Heinrich U, Gärtner C, et al. Supplementation with beta-carotene or a similar amount of mixed carotenoids protects humans from UV-induced erythema. J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):98-101.
Combination of Vitamins E and C, Carotenoids, Selenium, and Proanthocyanidins
H1. Greul AK, Grundmann JU, et al. Photoprotection of UV-irradiated human skin: an antioxidative combination of vitamins E and C, carotenoids, selenium and proanthocyanidins. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002 Sep-Oct;15(5):307-315.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/25/2020
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.