Put yogurt on your sunburn and watch what happens
While fun in the sun is all well and good, in this case, too much of a good thing can be disastrous. Once you become aware you’ve overdone the sun, the first thing you’ll feel is pain. This may quickly be followed by embarrassment — oh great, now you’ll have to spend the next few days looking like a boiled lobster, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the next stage will be super-gross skin peeling.
A sunburn can’t really be cured, so it must be endured, but there are certain tips and tricks that will help to ease your pain and soothe your skin. One of these tips you’re going to want to try, next time you’re feeling the burn, involves applying yogurt to your skin.
How yogurt helps a sunburn
Yogurt is a milk product, and, as such, contains lactic acid. Dermatologist Dr. Erin Gilbert explains in a YouTube video that lactic acid works as an exfoliant and removes the skin’s top layers — which reduces the appearance of blistering. Cold fat-free plain yogurt applied topically is also endorsed by Dr. Neil Sadick (via Coveteur), as the protein it contains can help soothe the skin. He recommends it be smoothed directly onto the sunburned skin and left on for 15 minutes, with the treatment being repeated every two to four hours as necessary.
If you do not have any yogurt on hand, or you’ve only got the fruit-flavored kind and you don’t really want all that sugary stickiness on your skin, you can get a similar result by using chilled milk, but only “as long as it comes from a cow and not from a soybean or almond,” as dermatologist Jessica Krant cautioned readers of Real Simple. Soak a washcloth in the milk, then apply it to your skin for the same sunburn-soothing effect provided by yogurt.
Greek yogurt is the best kind to soothe a sunburn
While any kind of plain yogurt can help ease your sunburn pain, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends using Greek yogurt due to the fact that is has been strained more times than traditional yogurt and is thus a thicker product with a much higher concentration of soothing lactic acid (via Dermstore). Greek yogurt is also high in probiotics, and according to Dr. Jaliman, “Recent studies have found that topical application of probiotics decreases skin sensitivity and redness,” she says.
To reap its benefits, just apply Greek yogurt in the same way you would apply any other yogurt treatment — smooth it over the affected skin area and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing with cool water. Just make sure you select plain, or unflavored Greek yogurt, as flavored varieties are usually sugary and will leave your skin sticky or weird.
Other natural sunburn remedies
If you keep a dairy-free home, or you just happen to have run out of both milk and yogurt, there are other natural remedies that can be used to soothe burning skin. Chamomile tea (via Real Simple) and green tea both have anti-inflammatory properties that will help your sunburned skin if applied via cool compress. Oatmeal can relieve an itchy sunburn if you either add a few tablespoons of dry (not cooked) oatmeal to your bath water or make it into a paste with a little milk or water and then apply that paste to your affected skin.
One of the simplest, but most effective, and definitely all-natural methods of relieving sunburn pain is plain old water, chilled or frozen. A cold shower or an ice pack can help to absorb that excess heat that is causing your skin to feel as if it’s still quite literally burning up. Dermatologist Ali Hendi (via Real Simple) also suggests that you drink a lot of water while recovering from a sunburn since your damaged skin can cause you to dehydrate more easily.
The serious danger of sunburn
The worst part of a sunburn — worse than the pain, worse than the itching, worse, even, than having to go out in public with a nose as bright as Rudolph’s and peeling skin — is the sad, sober truth that even that one single sunburn can double your chances of developing skin cancer later in life. This does not mean that each sunburn is a death sentence, since the majority of skin cancers, according to WebMD, are highly curable if you catch them early enough. Still, as Caitlyn Jenner has shared with us, this treatment will neither be fun nor pretty.
So — not saying you have to go out in the sun all wrapped up like a mummy, but adequate sun protection, in the form of sunscreen, extra clothing, or both, is a definite must. If you do find yourself pink or red despite your best efforts, though, slap some yogurt on your burn and ease your pain while you wait for your skin to heal.
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