No one sets out to get sunburned, but the pleasant distractions of summer-the long, sunny days, the beckoning beach, losing track of time in the garden-all make it easy to forget that extra coat of sunscreen, or the need to take a break in the shade. Of course, it's best to practice sunburn prevention and stop a burn before it starts, given its ability to cause skin cancer and premature aging. Luckily, common foods in your kitchen possess sun-protection compounds to aid your current sun-protection routine. Others may not help prevent sunburn but offer surprising relief if you do accidentally catch too many rays.
Check out these natural food remedies to deal with-or prevent-summer sunburns...
Burn-fighting effect: Overindulging in potatoes may be a no-no if you're trying to lose weight, but keep a few on hand in case a sunburn strikes. The potato's starchy compounds will help take the sting out of sunburn.
Sunburn treatment: Cut a raw potato into slices and rub a piece on your most painful sunburned spots. For a more intensive treatment, grate a cold raw potato and apply it as a poultice.
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Burn-fighting effect: When your whole body is sunburned, oatmeal provides the best type of relief.
Sunburn treatment: Grind up a cup of oatmeal in a food processor, add it to cool bathwater, and soak. You can also wrap dry oatmeal in cheesecloth or gauze, run cool water through it, and then toss the oatmeal and soak compresses in the liquid, applying every 2 to 4 hours.
Burn-fighting effect: The milk creates a protein film on your skin that will help ease the discomfort of fresh sunburn.
Sunburn treatment: Apply cool, not cold, milk to your skin using a clean cloth or gauze. Apply compresses for 15 to 20 minutes, and repeat every 2 to 4 hours.
Burn-fighting effect: Pomegranates are a rich source of ellagic acid, which can help protect your skin from UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage, according to research from the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University.
Sunburn treatment: Indulge in pomegranates during the summer months. The fruit's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could help add another layer of sun protection to your routine.
Burn-fighting effect: The berries' tannin content helps reduce the sting of a sunburn.
Sunburn treatment: Mash a few ripened strawberries and slather on sunburns for natural relief. Rinse off after a few minutes. If you'd rather not go the fruit route to avoid stickiness, you can make a paste out of cornstarch and water and slather it over sunburned skin for relief, too.
Burn-fighting effect: Cucumbers offer sunburn relief on par with store-bought sunburn-relief products, without added with chemical preservatives and harmful fragrances.
Sunburn treatment: If you're already burned, mash a cucumber and apply it to your skin. Dian Dincin Buchman, Ph.D., author of The Complete Herbal Guide to Natural Health and Beauty, suggests cucumber can provide sun protection in a pinch, too. Grab an organic cucumber from the garden or farmers' market, peel and chop, and then squeeze the juice. Mix it with glycerin and rosewater for protection from the sun.
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Burn-fighting effect: An antioxidant-rich diet could help prep your skin for more potent sun protection before you even step foot outside. One guava contains about five times the amount of vitamin C, a skin-healing antioxidant, as a medium-sized orange.
Sunburn treatment: Enjoy a guava here and there, but work more local vitamin-C-rich foods into your diet, too, including bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli.
Burn-fighting effect: White vinegar's acetic acid acts like a topical nonsterioidal anti-inflammatory drug (think aspirin and ibuprofen).
Sunburn treatment: If you're red (just not blistered), dab a bit of distilled white vinegar onto your sunburn. It will kill the pain for about 20 minutes.
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By Leah Zerbe, Prevention