Be it summers or winters or beach time, we all have our reasons to love or hate these times. Prolonged exposure to sunny outdoor days especially during the summers brings with it a wave of heat and unwanted exposure to UV sunlight.
It’s happened to all of us—a pink and painful sunburn, tanning, and uneven pigmentation. All of it is unpleasant for the body, its immune system, and its impact is visible on the skin—sunburns—and the agony that comes with a bad burn leaving you desperate for any remedy that promises relief. Hence, it becomes vital to take care of our skin during the seasons of harsh sun rays.
We all know just how soothing aloe vera can be during sunburns. Off lately, beauty lovers have been experimenting with—coconut oil for sunburns.
Coconut Oil for Sunburn TOC
Damage done by Sunburns
In most cases, sunburns are superficial burns that cause redness, inflammation, and discomfort. However, severe sunburns cause damage to deeper layers of the skin causing blisters and even skin breakdown. Sunburns demand medical attention if the burns cover a large surface area of the skin and accompany other symptoms like fever, headache, nausea, confusion, or fainting.
The sunburns from the ultraviolet and infrared rays of the sun cause discoloration, wrinkling of the skin, skin cancer, and other skin damage. It can also lead to aging skin.
Therefore, avoiding sunburn in the first place. It’s time to start your morning routine with a daily application of sunscreen after you moisturize and before you apply makeup.
Not all sunburns are severe, and the majority of them don’t require medical care. Sunburns can easily be treated at home.
Benefits of Using Coconut Oil for Sunburn
Coconut oil—a fantastic ingredient—contains saturated fatty acids that have emollient properties i.e it has saturated fats that act as a natural moisturizer for dry skin and to treat many skin conditions.
Coconut oil with its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties is beneficial for sunburns for the following reasons if applied correctly:
- Restores skin’s moisture
- Relieves itching and peeling
- Reduces redness
- Speeds up skin recovery
- Improves skin hydration
- Acts as a skin softener
- Treats dry skin
Coconut oil is not a good sunscreen substitute. Generally, SPF 30 to SPF 50 filters 95-98% of UV light from the sun, however, coconut oil has a small amount of SPF of 7.1 which is not enough to protect the skin from UV damage completely.
However, once it’s past the hot and painful stage, applying coconut oil to dry and itchy sunburned skin may help reduce inflammation while helping to revitalize the skin’s moisture.
Although there is not much scientific research on the potential benefits of using coconut oil as a treatment for sunburn.
Why the Need to be Cautious to Use Coconut Oil for sunburn
It is an age-old belief that coconut oil relieves sunburn. However, you can actually make sunburn worse by applying coconut oil immediately over burned hot skin as it may block the skin pores and trap even more heat on the surface of your skin. Use coconut oil at the perfect time—after sunburned skin has been cooled with cool water or a cold compress.
Therefore, coconut oil should not be used as the first line of treatment for sunburn but only at a certain stage of the sunburn. Otherwise, it may cause more damage to skin tissue, worsen the burn, increase inflammation, and keep the skin hot and red prolonging the healing process.
So, coconut oil works better for reducing UV-related damage after sunburn has healed.
How to Safely Use Coconut Oil for Sunburn
Coconut oil will give the best results when added later in the healing process. So simply wait until the burn has cooled down.
First apply a cool compress or cool, damp towel to the affected area for 10-15 minutes to help cool down the skin or take a cool shower or bath. Don’t apply the coconut oil immediately at the first sign of sunburn.
Try testing out coconut oil’s moisturizing abilities on a patch of skin first after the initial phase of the sunburn has healed and the skin has cooled off. It may take several hours depending on the severity of the sunburn. If there are no negative reactions, apply the coconut oil a few times a day to moisturize the skin and help relieve any itching and dryness. “Stimulate your body’s healing and repair process to naturally help your skin shed those excess layers of dead cells that make it rough, uneven, dull, and scaly.”
Take plenty of fluids while your skin heals since sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface causing dehydration. Take an OTC anti-inflammatory medicine (such as ibuprofen) to help ease the pain and swelling that can come with scorched skin.
Consult a doctor and don’t use coconut oil if the sunburns are anything other than a first-degree burn. It is safe to turn to home remedies when the sunburn is mild and there is no exposed skin under the burn. If the sunburn is accompanied by severe blistering, a fever, or spans large areas of the body, visit a physician immediately and skip the home remedies.
The Bottom Line
Coconut oil—a fantastic ingredient is beneficial for sunburns, if applied timely and with cautious optimism. It is an effective natural sunscreen to some extent, but not a good sunscreen substitute. It only blocks 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays compared to sunscreen’s 97%.
Coconut oil is effective for moisturizing sunburned skin, soothing skin, and minimizing itching and peeling. It also has the potential to speed up the healing of sunburned skin and prevent infections with its antimicrobial properties.
Don’t use coconut oil as the first line of defense. Use it as part of a skin-healing regimen along with other natural ingredients like aloe vera, rather than as a solo artist. In general, aloe vera is still vouched for healing sunburns faster and more effectively. Due to the potentially harmful effects of immediately applying coconut oil to freshly burned skin, wait till the burn has subsided.
If you do have a mild superficial sunburn that can be treated at home, coconut oil is considered a safe treatment, but only after the burn has cooled down. It shouldn’t be considered for anything beyond a first-degree burn. You should never use coconut oil as a sunburn remedy.
Many people wish to choose coconut oil as part of their skincare routine after a sunburn is no longer painful or sore.
So, stay moisturized and beautiful!