Dear Pharmacist: I bought aloe vera gel from the pharmacy and it didn't feel good on my sunburn. It actually stung. Can you recommend something else? — J.S., Sebring
Dear J.S.: I bet you bought a gel that contains a few other ingredients, possibly even alcohol. Plain, natural aloe vera gel would not do that. It would help. Sunburn pain ranges from annoying to downright disabling if you get second-degree burns.
Aside from medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, here are some natural solutions that could help reduce burning, pain and redness.
Tea bags: Put six into a pitcher of warm or hot water and steep for 15 to 30 minutes (longer if you want). Your goal is to make strong tea because its tannins are comforting to the skin. Cool the pitcher of tea with ice cubes or in the refrigerator. Dunk a rag into the tea and make a compress. Do this several times a day for several days unless you have some kind of issue. If you're traveling, you can always wet a tea bag with cold water and apply it to your skin.
Lavender essential oil: Apply this to areas that hurt badly, like around your bikini line, shoulders, ears, nose or shoulders.
Baking soda bath: Fill the tub with cool water and add 4-6 heaping tablespoons of baking soda. Only soak up to 20 minutes, no more. If you soak too long, you're going to dry your skin too much and add to your misery. You don't have to take a bath, you can make a thin paste out of baking soda and water (optional two drops of lavender essential oil) and apply to your skin until it dries, then gently rinse off.
Suzy's Sunburn Spritzer: Fill a spray bottle with 2 ounces of distilled water and 5 drops of essential oils of lemon, lavender, calendula and frankincense (Boswellia). If you don't like one of those scents, you can substitute Roman chamomile.
Other preventive options: Carrot seed oil mixed in with your natural sunscreen is helpful. Astaxanthin, taken orally, has been clinically shown to reduce damage to the skin from ultraviolet radiation. Other dietary supplements that are skin-protective include vitamins A, E and D, as well as resveratrol. And forget fashion — cover up your skin with clothes if you're prone to sunburn.
This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.