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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew on May 24, 2022

Natural Remedies That Provide Excellent Sunburn Relief

Sunburns may include symptoms other than hot skin, such as dehydration and pain. This article provides the best natural sunburn relief tips to help make your life more comfortable if you've been sunburned.

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After a long, dreary winter, sunshine and warm weather have finally arrived in the United States. As a result, sunburn relief is once again a top priority for Americans.

Sunburn relief can help you if you forget to put sunscreen on in time before spending the day outside. But you don’t have to run to the nearest store for relief. You may be able to reduce the symptoms of sunburn using products that you already have right at home.

In this guide, we will explain the best remedies for sunburn relief using natural products. We will also provide tips for staying hydrated and taking care of yourself if you have already been sunburned.

How Can TCM Provide Sunburn Relief?

Applying aloe to sunburned skin can help reduce redness and inflammation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help reduce the side effects of sunburn through acupuncture and oral and topical herbal medication. These treatments are formulated carefully by the TCM physician to address specifically the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it’s always best to first consult a TCM physician for proper assessment.

According to TCM Physician Brandon Yew, it’s worth noting that other external treatment modalities like cupping, tuina (Chinese manual therapy), moxibustion, and guasha (scraping) are strictly not advisable at this juncture. This is because they will most likely add further stress to the already inflamed skin, and in turn aggravate the condition.

Physician Yew recommends the following home remedies for sunburn relief:

  • Hydrate with lots of water 
  • Cold compress on areas that are sunburnt
  • Cold shower or bath for areas that are too big or widespread 
  • Apply aloe vera gel, raw cucumber slices, coconut oil, oatmeal with cold milk, boiled peppermint leaves, or Pagoda tree flower buds to the infected area

Herbal formulas

Below listed are some oral TCM herbal formulations to help with sunburned skin. 

For acute onset: 

  • Si Miao Tang: Neutralizes Heat toxins and dissipates Blood Clots; regenerates lost Qi and Blood 
  • Si Miao Yong An Tang: Cools the Blood and dissipates Clots, neutralizes Heat Toxins, regenerates Yin (cooling energy and body fluids) and Blood 
  • Wu Shen Tang: Improves Fluid Circulation to remove Dampness; propels Blood and dissipates Clots; cools the Blood, neutralizes Heat Toxins, and relieves swelling 
  • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: Dispels Fire and Dampness; nourishes Blood and Yin (cooling energy and body fluids) 
  • Xiao Feng San: Dispels Wind, Fire, and Dampness; nourishes Blood and Yin (cooling energy and body fluids) 
  • Yin Qiao San: Dispels Wind and Fire Toxins 
  • Qing Ying Tang: Dispels Fire and dissipates Blood Stasis; nourishes Yin (cooling energy and body fluids) 
  • Pi Pa Qing Fei Yin: dispels Fire and Dampness 

For post-sunburn recovery: 

  • Dang Gui Yin Zi: Regenerates Blood and moves Blood to improve circulation  
  • Tao Hong Si Wu Tang: Dissipates residual Blood Clots and Stagnated Qi, nourishes Blood 
  • Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan: Regenerates Yin (cooling energy and body fluids) and dispels residual Fire 

According to Physician Yew, “Please always bear in mind that the herbal formulas provided above are meant for different pathological states of sunburn, corresponding to varying body constitutions. Essentially, sunburn might appear simple, but to effectively treat it, it can be rather complex. As such, it is strongly advised not to purchase any of them to self-medicate without first consulting a licensed TCM practitioner for professional guidance.” 

Below listed are some topical TCM herbal formulations to help with sunburnt skin: 

  • Huang Lian Gao 
  • Zi Yun Gao 
  • Bao Fu Ling 

“Similarly, do consult a licensed TCM practitioner for professional guidance on the usage of these topical medications,” recommends Physician Yew.

Sunburn Relief And Hydration

American Ginseng tea is an excellent way to hydrate after spending a day in the sun.

Along with treating your burned, inflamed skin, it’s important to remember that sunburn relief should also include proper hydration.

Spending lots of time in the sun may result in loss of fluids. This can be dangerous on hot days, affecting things like your concentration and coordination levels.

American ginseng tea is an excellent way to hydrate the body. It contains no caffeine to further dehydrate you. Plus, it has soothing anti-inflammatory properties that may also help with pain and inflammation. Try brewing a cup of tea and then using the cooled tea bag topically on your skin to reduce skin damage.

Bird’s nest is another healing food that can help you hydrate and recover. It helps improve complexion and manages skin irritations in babies and children to help correct skin damage caused by the sun.

Other supplements, such as collagen and spot whitening capsules, can help improve the skin’s complexion after being damaged by the sun. Research shows that sun-damaged skin is more likely to appear aged, dull, wrinkly, and have dark spots.

These supplements work by contributing to the regeneration of new skin cells to correct problem areas that may accelerate skin aging. However, it’s still advisable to wear sunscreen for protection against UV lights, which contribute to sunburn and wrinkles. Keep in mind that any cellular damage to the skin due to UV light will occur if you’re not properly protected.

Lastly, there are several acupuncture points on parts of your body that can help with the pain, discomfort, fatigue, and inflammation of a sunburn. However, acupressure is strictly not advisable when you have inflamed sunburned skin. Always consult with a registered TCM physician for proper acupuncture and sunburn relief care.


  1. Clinical, Cosmic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2013. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin.

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