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A sunburn is a red, swollen, and painful skin that can happen after being in the sun without skin protection. It can be mild or severe. Sunburn is a risk factor for skin cancer.

It is treated with home care and medicine. It can be prevented by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Some natural therapies may help ease symptoms.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

Beta carotene is a red-orange color found in plants and fruits. It is likely to ease swelling from sun exposure.G1, G2

May Be Effective

These therapies may provide benefit:

  • Aloe vera is a succulent plant species.A1-A3
  • Combination of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, carotenoids, selenium, and proanthocyanidins may have a protective effect H1
  • Green tea catechins are an antioxidant from green tea B1-B2
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E C1-C3
  • Vitamin D D1

May Not Be Effective

Chocolate flavanols are an antioxidant that may not provide benefit.F1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.



Aloe Vera

A1. Puvabanditsin P, Vongtongsri R. Efficacy of aloe vera cream in prevention and treatment of sunburn and suntan. J Med Assoc Thai. 2005;88 Suppl 4:S173-S176.

Reuter J, Jocher A, et al. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-110.

Feily A, Namazi MR. Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2009;144(1):85-91.

Green Tea Catechins

B1. Rhodes LE, Darby G, et al. Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(5):891-900.

B2. Farrar MD1, Nicolaou A2, et al. A randomized controlled trial of green tea catechins in protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(3):608-615.

Vitamins C and E

C1. Eberlein-König B, Placzek M, et al. Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998;38(1):45-48.

C2. Puvabanditsin P, Vongtongsri R. Efficacy of topical vitamin C derivative (VC-PMG) and topical vitamin E in prevention and treatment of UVA suntan skin. J Med Assoc Thai. 2006;89 Suppl 3:S65-S68.

C3. Wu Y1, Zheng X, et al. Protective effects of a topical antioxidant complex containing vitamins C and E and ferulic acid against ultraviolet irradiation-induced photodamage in Chinese women. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013;12(4):464-468.

Vitamin D

D1. Scott JF, Das LM, et al. Oral vitamin D rapidly attenuates inflammation from sunburn: an interventional study. J Invest Dermatol. 2017;137(10):2078-2086.


E1. Scheuer C, Pommergaard HC, et al. Dose dependent sun protective effect of topical melatonin: A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. J Dermatol Sci. 2016 Nov;84(2):178-185.

Chocolate Flavanols

F1. Mogollon JA, Boivin C, et al. Chocolate flavanols and skin photoprotection: a parallel, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Nutr J. 2014 Jun 27;13:66.

Beta Carotene

G1. Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta-Carotene--a meta-analysis. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-288.

G2. Heinrich U, Gärtner C, et al. Supplementation with beta-carotene or a similar amount of mixed carotenoids protects humans from UV-induced erythema. J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):98-101.

Combination of Vitamins E and C, Carotenoids, Selenium, and Proanthocyanidins

H1. Greul AK, Grundmann JU, et al. Photoprotection of UV-irradiated human skin: an antioxidative combination of vitamins E and C, carotenoids, selenium and proanthocyanidins. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002 Sep-Oct;15(5):307-315.

Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC