Natural, time-tested remedies for sunburn

August 24, 2009 6:48:23 AM PDT
Even this late in the summer, it's easy to get a sunburn, if you aren't careful.

But if you do get burned, you might have some remedies to soothe your skin right in your own kitchen.

Dr. Ara DerMarderosian, an alternative medicine specialist at the University of the Sciences, says most people know the juice of the aloe vera plant is a good natural burn treatment.

He picks part of a leaf off, breaks it, and spreads the clear liquid inside on his hand.

Of aloe vera, he says, "It has a lot of wound-healing properties, it has minerals, and so on. It's very hard to duplicate."

But few people know that olive oil, vinegar, honey, or a paste made of baking soda and water can also ease the pain of sun-scorched skin.

Dr. DerMarderosian even says potatoes can be of help.

"Cut it up, and mash it, and take a little bit of gauze, take that wet mash, and apply it to the area of the sunburn," he says.

Dr. DerMarderosian, an expert on alternative medicine, says natural remedies have a long track record of success.

"Vinegar used to be used in Roman times as an antiseptic," he notes.

"The kitchen items are very accessible, and do a pretty good job actually," says Dr. DerMarderosian.

Here are some other sunburn soothers:

-Calendula crème - ointments is best. It helps add moisture.

-Lavender oil. Dr. DerMarderosian says the aroma makes you feel better, plus it has some antiseptic and healing properties.

-Vitamin E capsules. "Just pierce the capsule, and squeeze the oil directly onto your skin. It has healing properties," says Dr. DerMarderosian.

-Oatmeal. "This is very useful; dermatologists use it," he says of oatmeal. Just mix it with a little water, and apply the paste, or put some oatmeal into water, and soak the burned area.

- Tea bags. "Soaked in cool water, and applied to a sunburn, it will help, because it has tannins in it - they are astringent and mildly antiseptic. Some women swear by them whenever they have puffy eyes. They take the tea bags, soak them and put them on the eyelids."

Finally, Dr. DerMarderosian says a common yard weed, plaintain, is known to have some soothing properties.

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America's salt habit may be easing.

Mintel, a food industry tracking company, says more than half of those surveyed are keeping watch on their sodium intake, and buying reduced-salt products.

The number of foods with lower sodium levels has more than doubled in recent years.

Doctors say sodium is a major factor in high blood pressure, kidney disease, and osteoporosis.

For those who are under doctor's orders to lower salt, there's some good news in the survey.

3 out of 4 who are on sodium-restricted diets say they don't miss salt.

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