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5 Ways to Get Rid of Sunburn Fast

Whether you spent too long on the sun lounger on holiday or got caught out in the sunshine on a leisurely hike, the symptoms of sunburn can really put a dampener on any summer plans.

And while you won’t be able to get rid of sunburn redness overnight, you can help relieve some of the more uncomfortable symptoms with some simple sunburn remedies. In this article, we will talk through the best sunburn treatments to relieve pain, itchiness, and swelling, leaving you feeling refreshed and comfortable.

Read on to find out what’s good for sunburn and advice on how to heal sunburn.

How long does sunburn last?

It depends on the severity of the sunburn.

For example, if your skin is only a little bit red and slightly sore to the touch, sunburn typically lasts between 3 to 5 days. However, moderate sunburn (when the skin starts peeling after the first day) lasts 5 to 7 days, while the blisters of severe sunburn will take around 7 to 10 days to heal completely.

For a brief breakdown on how long sunburn lasts, see our table, below

How Long Does Sunburn Take to Heal?



Recovery time


Redness, sore to the touch

3 to 5 days


Redness, sore to the touch, peeling

5 to 7 days


Redness, sore to the touch, peeling, blisters

7 to 10 days

And while most sunburn can be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter medications, you should go see a GP if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Your skin is blistered or swollen

  • Your body temperature is very high

  • You feel fatigued, dizzy, or nauseous

  • You are experiencing headaches

If you want to find out more about how long sunburn lasts and how to practise healthy sun care, head over to our Skin Health hub.

How long does it take to get a sunburn?

Everyone is different when it comes to how quickly they burn in the sun, mainly due to your body’s natural skin type.

For instance, the lighter skin you have, the less melanin you will produce, the more at risk you are of sunburn. The darker your skin, the more melanin you will have and, typically, the less likely you are to burn in the sun.

However, just because you don’t seem to have sunburn to the eye doesn’t mean you are completely protected from the sun and haven’t experienced some level of skin damage. Always wear suncream with at least SPF 30 to keep yourself safe in the sun.

How to heal sunburn fast

Before we jump into the sunburn remedies, it’s important to remember that the best sunburn treatments are preventative.

So, try to limit your time in the summer sun (10 minutes is all you need to get your vitamin D fix), wear protective clothing and suncream when you need to be out in the sun, and seek shade for regular breaks.

If you do get caught out in the sun for too long, the following remedies should provide some instant sunburn relief to make you feel more comfortable:

1. Apply Aloe vera liberally

If you’re looking to take the sting out of sunburn fast, then Aloe vera moisturisers and lotions can be an effective option.

This handy plant naturally contains the anti-inflammatory properties and cooling sensation needed for instant sunburn relief. It also helps to rehydrate skin, quickening your recovery time and minimising that maddening itching!

If you don’t have aloe vera cream on hand, there are plenty of substitutes your can use to moisturise and soothe your skin. Use alternative natural remedies such as oatmeal, coconut oil or diluted essential oils.

For the best results, we recommend applying your Aloe vera or your sunburn remedy of choice immediately, if you feel like you’ve caught the sun. You should then blend Aloe vera into your usual skincare routine until you’re happy the sunburn has healed completely.

2. Take a cool bath or shower

Even when you’ve long taken shelter in the shade, sunburn can make it feel like you’re constantly burning up. So, to ease sunburn pain and bring your body temperature back down, we recommend taking a gentle cool shower or bath.

Not only does the cool water provide that instant sunburn relief, leaving you feeling comfortable and refreshed, but it will also help clean the affected area, reducing the risk of infection.

You should avoid using harsh soaps on the sunburn, however, as this can irritate and dry out your damaged skin. Instead, turn to your trusty Aloe vera lotion to lock in that moisture and stop sunburn pain!

3. Drink plenty of water

While we should all be drinking around 8 glasses of water per day anyway (especially in the summer heat!), drinking plenty of water and staying well hydrated can help you recover from a sunburn faster.

By keeping yourself properly hydrated, you are supporting your body’s healing process, quickening your recovery time. Not to mention that drinking plenty of fluids will help to ease the discomfort of a high body temperature, similar to how cool showers and baths provide that instant sunburn relief. 

4. Use cool, damp compress

Most of the sunburn treatments on this list are great for overall body relief and recovery, but what about when you need to target specific areas? Maybe you’re looking for ways to treat sunburn on your face fast?

If you’re feeling the effects of a sunburn on one specific area of your body, consider applying a clean, wet towel or washcloth to the sunburnt area to help soothe and cool sore skin. Simply apply this cold compress to the afflicted area to help numb pain, alleviate itchiness, and provide instant sunburn relief. However, while a cold compress can help heal the effects of a sunburn, you should not apply ice directly to your skin as it can cause further damage and pain.

5. Resist the urge to itch

We all know how tempting it can be to scratch that nagging itch on your sunburnt skin, but you could be undoing all the good work of your sunburn remedies.

Continuous scratching will disrupt your skin’s healing process, as well as make the sunburn feel more painful and itchy. You could even risk infection by scratching too often, lengthening your recovery time.

If you do want to stop itchy sunburn and remove the temptation entirely, try one of the sunburn remedies we’ve talked about above, such as Aloe vera moisturiser, cool showers, or a cold compress.

To help the reduce the inflammation and discomfort associated with sunburn, if it is safe for you do to so, consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medicine, such as Ibuprofen.

Now you know what’s good for sunburn, you can start taking steps towards better sun care in the future and avoid the uncomfortable symptoms entirely. Head over to our Be Healthy hub for more information on SPF Factors and summer health.

Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly on July 2023.