A painful sunburn can cause you a whole ton of stress! Instead of limping off to the pharmacy for the latest wonder lotions and potions to apply to your skin, did you know that you have the best remedy right at home in your fridge?
A milk bath is a great way to soothe sunburned skin. The vitamins, fat, proteins, and amino acids in milk all work together to restore lost moisture and nourish irritated and inflamed skin while removing dead cells from the top layer of skin.
Read on, and I’ll let you in on a best-kept secret for treating your sunburn at home with everyday ingredients.
Does Milk Really Work on a Sunburn?
Milk really does work to offer relief to sunburned skin. Basically, sunburn is inflamed skin, so the quickest and easiest way to get immediate relief is to cool down the area. Cold milk helps to pull the heat away from the skin.
Applying a cold milk compress to the sunburned area will help, but a good soak in a milk bath will cool and nourish all of your skin, providing pain relief.
The fats, proteins, amino acids, and vitamins found in milk can be particularly calming and soothing for sunburned skin, reducing pain and discomfort.
The cold temperature of the milk soothes the sunburn while the lactic acid gently exfoliates and removes the dead skin from the top of the burn.
Additionally, milk heals a sunburn rash and prevents the damaged skin from drying out. There should never be a limit to the number of milk baths you can take while your skin heals. If you feel the need to soak and the cool milky water soothes your hot skin, then do so!
Why Are Milk Baths Good for Sunburn?
A sunburn can be extremely painful. If your burn is bad enough, you might seek medical attention; otherwise, you’ll probably search for a good home remedy to soothe the pain and bring relief.
One of the best home remedies to soothe sunburned skin is soaking in a tub of milk or milky water. Milk contains:
- Proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals help to soften and soothe skin.
- Lactic acid helps to exfoliate the dead skin cells and smooth the skin.
The 3 Benefits of a Milk Bath
A good soak in a milk bath has super health benefits for your body in so many ways, including helping to calm and soothe a painful sunburn. A 20-minute soak provides the following benefits:
|BENEFITS||INGREDIENTS IN MILK||HOW IT WORKS|
|Hydration||Vitamins, minerals, and fats||Restores lost moisture and nourishes the skin|
|Exfoliation||Lactic acid||Removes dead skin cells from the top layer of skin and smoothes the skin's texture|
|Reduces inflammation||Proteins and vitamins||Soothes, calms, and moisturizes irritated and inflamed skin|
Historically, a soak in the tub was a great way to heal the body, not only from external ailments but also for the soul’s well-being.
Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, was well known for her daily milk baths. She believed that a daily soak in milk would help her stay beautiful and youthful! (Read about her secrets and more in my article, Take a Milk and Honey Bath: Live Like a Queen.)
In any case, science has caught up with our old wive’s tales, and a good soak in the tub now has proven benefits to healing an assortment of illnesses. Read 20 Hot Bath Benefits for Mind, Body and Soul to get the scientific scoop.
However, milk baths might not be safe for you if you are lactose intolerant or have very sensitive skin. You generally shouldn’t have a problem if you are lactose intolerant but it’s best to consult your doctor first before taking a soaking milk bath if you have either of these conditions.
Which Milk is Best for a Sunburn Milk Bath Treatment?
Any milk added to your bathtub water will provide relief to sunburned skin because of the lactic acid and antioxidants.
When it comes to treating a sunburn, tepid, or cold water is the best temperature for your tub water – in fact, the colder, the better!
Warm water will simply irritate your skin and cause you even more discomfort.
Choose the best milk for your soaking cool water tub from the list below:
|Cow's milk||Whole or full-fat milk will work best for your skin as it reduces inflammation while locking in moisture. But if 2% is all you have in the fridge – use it!|
|Buttermilk||Contains lactic acid and is a gentle exfoliator. Lactic acid speeds up the peeling stage of sunburn, increasing the healing time|
|Goats’ milk||The high-fat content in goats' milk can replenish the moisture in dry and damaged skin.|
|Powdered milk||Milk powder moisturizes skin, reducing the effects of sunburn|
|Oat milk||A great option for vegans. Anti-inflammatory, oat milk soothes and eases irritated skin|
|Coconut milk||When added to tepid water, coconut milk relieves the discomfort of sunburn. Calms and moisturizes irritated skin|
Basic DIY Milk Bath Recipe for Sunburn
The trick to this soothing bath is the water temperature – remember to never use warm or hot water but instead, have the water as cold as you can stand it.
A soak of this type is for healing purposes only – don’t use any soaps or shampoos while in the tub, and don’t rub your skin using a washcloth!
The basic recipe for a milk bath to treat sunburn is quite simple. You can add many other ingredients to customize the basic recipe:
- 1 – 2 cups of milk (your choice) per tub of water – I found this amazing product, Nature by Canus Foaming Milk Bath, online. Made from fresh goat’s milk, it is packed with all the nutrients required to soothe your sunburned skin.
- Add your choice of favorite ingredients from our list below
- Run cold water into the tub.
- Pour the milk into the tub of water.
- Stir the water with your hand until the milk is mixed in.
- Add your extra ingredients.
- Relax and soak for 20 minutes.
Ingredients to Customize a Milk Bath for Sunburn
The pain from your sunburn might be too much to bear, and the thought of taking any extra time to include additional ingredients might be too much, but a few home remedies could add to your healing and soothe the burn even quicker.
Try one of these optional ingredients in your milk bath recipe.
If you are using essential oils, remember to use a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, olive, or rosehip to mix with the essential oils. Carrier oils are used to disperse the essential oils evenly throughout the water and carry them to your skin.
For more interesting ideas on how to use essential oils, read my helpful article on Essential Oils In The Bath: How To Do It Right. Find out which essential oils are definitely the best to use in the bath and which you should definitely avoid!
|INGREDIENTS||BENEFITS||HOW TO USE|
|Chamomile or lavender essential oils||Promote healing of sunburn with anti-inflammatory properties||Add 10 drops to the carrier oil. Mix, then add to the tub of water|
|Carrier oils||Reduce the risk of skin irritation||Use 1 tablespoon per 5 drops of essential oils|
|Honey||Anti-inflammatory properties soothe the skin||Add 1 tablespoon to the tub of water|
|Baking soda||Antifungal properties soothe irritated skin||Add 2 heaped tablespoons to the tub of water|
|Epsom salts||Anti-inflammatory properties soothe burns, swelling, and hives||Dissolve 2 cups in a tub of water|
|**Oatmeal||Anti-inflammatory properties provide relief from itchiness||Add 2 cups ground oatmeal to the tub of water|
|Yogurt||Contains probiotics and healthy enzymes||Apply 1 cup of plain, unflavoured yogurt to the tub of water|
|Black tea||Contains probiotics and healthy enzymes||Add 2 teabags to the tub water and allow to steep|
|Cucumber||Soothing properties||Blend 1 cucumber with ½ cup of milk and add to the tub of water|
**Using oatmeal in the bath is soothing to the skin but can clog up the pipes of your tub, even causing costly repairs eventually. My article 3 Ways to Bathe in Oatmeal (Without Clogging Pipes) provides a few ideas on avoiding costly plumbing repairs if you use oatmeal in your tub.
The Best Essential Oils To Use in a Milk Bath for Sunburn Relief
Essential oils contain active ingredients that are traditionally used in herbal treatments. Some essential oils are the perfect remedy to use to promote skin healing after a bad dose of sunburn.
The Journal of Paediatric Nursing reported on a case study of two children with severe burns. The first child was immediately treated with essential oils by her grandmother before being admitted to the hospital for treatment.
The second child did not receive any essential oil treatments prior to hospitalization. The child who received the essential oils recovered better than the other child and was able to leave the hospital 4 days earlier! Source
A word of caution before you add essential oils to your tub – some essential oils could irritate your skin and cause more discomfort. If the pain from your sunburn does not seem to be subsiding and is becoming worse, exit the tub immediately and take a cool shower to wash off the oils.
Cover your skin with aloe vera or a moisturizer to soothe the skin.
Before you add essential oils to your tub water, remember to mix them with a carrier oil first to reduce the risk of further skin irritation.
Add these essential oils to your bathtub water:
|Peppermint oil||The best essential oil to soothe sunburned skin. Menthol has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties which
help to decrease redness and swelling and help promote healing.
|Helichrysum Oil||Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and antimicrobial properties. The best wound healing essential oil.|
|Eucalyptus oil||Soothes pain and discomfort associated with sunburn and reduces redness.|
|Chamomile oil||A multi-use oil with calming and soothing properties for many skin conditions, including sunburn. Helps to reduce redness, swelling and pain.|
|Tea Tree oil||Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and immune-boosting properties. Used to promote healing of many skin conditions.|
|Lavender oil||Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Helps to reduce the symptoms of pain and swelling while soothing and repairing the burn.
Used to lower the risk of fungal or bacterial infection.
|Geranium oil||Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. Used as a sedative for pain relief from sunburn and to speed up wound healing.|
|Marigold oil||Antioxidant, soothes inflamed skin.|
|Vitamin C oil||Reduces sunburn symptoms and improves healing time.|
|Vitamin E oil||Antioxidant. It Aids the skin in retaining moisture and reduces inflammation caused by sunburn|
How to Treat Sunburn after a Milk Bath
While you are in the tub, remember to hydrate! Drink as much water as you possibly can – water will help to rehydrate your body and prevent your skin from drying out any further.
Stay away from alcohol or sodas – these will dry out your skin.
When you are ready to leave the tub, there are a few things that you can do to continue the sunburn treatment and prolong the soothing effects.
Sunburn aftercare is important. How you treat sunburn will determine how quickly your skin will heal.
Try these methods:
Rinse off the milky water before you leave the tub. Don’t use a washcloth to rub over your skin or any soaps to remove the milk. Gently wipe your hand over your body to remove the milk.
2. Towel Dry
Use a soft, fluffy towel to pat your skin dry – don’t rub as you will agitate your skin. 7 Best Bamboo Towel Benefits discusses the wonderful benefits of bamboo towels, including the fact that they are incredibly soft and antimicrobial – perfect for when you’ve got sunburned skin.
3. Apply Moisturizer
A good, alcohol-free, un-perfumed moisturizer will keep your skin soft and supple and prevent moisture loss.
- Aloe vera is known to be a great, effective treatment for sunburn. Aloe vera gel contains an ingredient called aloin. Aloin is used to soothe irritated skin and stop inflammation.
Apply aloe vera to the sunburned areas often to help prevent dry, flaky skin associated with a healing burn
- Honey is a natural moisturizer with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. A few dabs of honey will soothe sunburnt skin.
Sunburn can cause blisters under the skin. If these blisters pop, an infection could set in. Be careful which creams and lotions you use to soothe the damaged area, as some medicated ointments could cause more harm than good.
4. Pain Relievers
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a few days to relieve the pain associated with sunburn. Remember to consult a doctor if the pain is unbearable or your sunburned skin becomes infected.
5. Protect Your Skin
Life after sunburn does have to continue, so you will have to leave your sanctuary and head out into the world at some stage. When you do, you should take extra precautions to protect your already damaged skin, especially if you have to brave the big outdoors!
Make sure that you apply sunscreen – even under your clothing – and cover up with long sleeves, long pants, and a wide-brimmed hat.
Now that you have discovered the wonderful healing and soothing properties of a soak in the tub, why not add a healing soak to your regular self-care routine? Read my article on how to relieve your daily stress and live a healthier life! Take a Stress Relief Bath to Feel Better Fast discusses why a hot bath will make you go “Ahh!” and help you stay calm through the ups and downs of daily life.
Is a Milk Bath for Sunburn the Best Treatment?
A milk bath is certainly one of the easiest and most effective treatments for sunburn. Most people have milk at home, so why not use it as an effective sunburn treatment?
Soaking in a cold milk bath can provide immediate relief for stinging, burning, itching skin. And it can also jumpstart the healing process, helping your skin slough off the damaged cells and regenerate healthy, new ones.
So what are you waiting for? If the sunburn is irritating the living daylights out of you, grab your milk, fill up the tub and hop in!
Milk baths are wonderful as a soothing treatment for sunburn, but did you know that soaking baths are used to heal the soul as well as physical ailments? Once your sunburn heals, try a chocolate milk bath for a real mood boost.