Yes Really – These Foods Can Relieve Sunburn

You might be able to find treatment for peeling skin, redness and irritation right in your fridge.
Here are the six products dermatologists recommend to soothe inflammation and redness — other than aloe vera.
Photo by Cathy Scola via Getty Images
Here are the six products dermatologists recommend to soothe inflammation and redness — other than aloe vera.

In a viral TikTok with over 4.5 million views, user @tabu.kina posted her experience treating a sunburn after eating a banana — using the banana peel.

“I recalled this video I saw of a woman using the peel for skin care so I just rubbed the banana peel on my face at a whim and INSTANTLY the sting was gone,” the TikToker posted. “Like completely cooled my sunburns.”

Surprisingly, proteins found in banana peels may work to heal the skin through its anti-inflammatory properties, which is also found in cooling products we use on our skin after sunburns, such as aloe vera.

Others on the platform also shared their hacks using different foods and drinks, including oatmeal, milk, green tea and yogurt, to treat redness and burning.

Another TikToker, Julia Frank, 24, added green tea and milk to her bath after getting a severe sunburn.

“I suffered from horrible sun poisoning after kayaking under the hot sun,” Frank told HuffPost. “After taking this bath, I was able to ease the burns and relax.”

We all know aloe vera is a common topical treatment option, used to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. However, if you don’t have aloe vera, or you’re allergic to the plant, you might be able to find another alternative right in your fridge.

Whether it’s to treat dry, peeling skin, redness, swelling or other symptoms, we asked dermatologists what foods and drinks you can use on your skin to help heal skin damage and how it works.

Dairy Products

Protein found in milk can be used to treat a sunburn, said Dr. Toral Vaidya, a dermatology resident physician at Weill Cornell in New York City. “Some dermatologists recommend baths with milk and cold water. The milk proteins and lactic acid naturally found in milk can help soothe and heal sunburned skin.”

You can use any type of milk you prefer, including plant-based alternatives, like coconut, oat and almond milk ― though the benefits will come from different properties.

Coconut milk contains lauric acid, which helps to support skin health through moisturising the skin. Additionally, it may help with wound healing by increasing collagen, or protein in the body, which can help heal damage from a sunburn. Oat milk works to soothe the skin, which may be helpful in treating any redness or dry skin. Similarly, almond milk works to hydrate the skin and soothe the skin.

Soybean products, including soy milk, have antioxidant properties, which help to decrease damage done to the body, including those by UV radiation. “Soy is a rich source of vitamins and lipids for the skin,” Vaidya said. “When used in skin care, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm irritated skin and reduce erythema.”

Green Tea

Like milk, green tea has properties that help relieve pain and heal damaged skin from the sun. By increasing collagen production in the skin, green tea can help treat chronic exposure to UV light, which can cause sunburns, premature aging and the development of skin cancers.

“Used as an ingredient in skin care products, green tea has antioxidant properties that can help protect against environmental stressors such as UV damage,” Vaidya said. “Though the data is very limited, there is some evidence to support that ingesting green tea can protect against erythema and inflammation caused by sunlight.”

You can apply green tea on the skin after placing the tea bag in boiling water and waiting for the tea to cool. You can use cotton pads to apply the green tea onto any affected areas.

Additionally, you can also boil green tea bags and place them in the bath for 25 minutes, while you soak.


Colloidal oatmeal, or ground oats, has direct anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help repair the skin’s barrier.

“When used in skin care products, it is effective for hydrating and soothing the skin, and can help strengthen the skin barrier as well,” Vaidya told HuffPost. “It also helps restore the skin’s natural pH, which is especially important for stressed skin.”

If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal, you can make your own by grinding oats into a fine powder, and adding it to a glass of water. Additional regimens include oatmeal baths in warm water for relief.


Applying raw honey to clean skin for 10-15 minutes can be used as a natural remedy for cuts, pimples and skin irritation, which might be helpful in healing inflammation caused by a sunburn, said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“Honey contains a variety of antioxidant ingredients to calm the skin, making it useful as a treatment for mild burns,” Zeichner said. “Plus, when applied to the skin, a reaction occurs that leads to the production of hydrogen peroxide to provide antimicrobial effects.”

A 2016 study by the School of Medicine at Nazarbayev University shared that honey has the ability to affect the skin’s immune system, promote tissue repair, and reduce chronic inflammation — a common symptom of sunburns.


Cucumbers are used in cosmetic products for the treatment of various skin problems, specifically swelling under the eye. Additionally, the cleansing vegetable allows the body to remove toxins and provide a cooling effect against skin irritants and swelling caused by sunburns.

“Cucumbers have a large water content, which is why they are often used as a cooling mask for the eyes,” Zeichner said. “For the same reason, cool cucumber slices can be applied to areas of mild sunburns to help hydrate and protect the skin.”

Cutting up some cucumber slices and placing them over affected areas for 10-15 minutes may help alleviate sunburn pain and coat the skin in vitamins.

Egg Whites

Egg white formulations are an appropriate treatment for burn wound healing, improving recovery rates. “Egg whites contain proteins that help coat the surface of the skin to soothe inflammation and maintain hydration,” Zeichner said.

Applying a thin layer of egg white over the affected area can help increase collagen and protein in the skin, boost skin elasticity, and lift the skin.

However, it’s important to only apply products on the skin if you have a mild sunburn. Although sunburns are common and at-home remedies can help to relieve symptoms, it’s important to know when it’s time to go to the emergency room.

If you’re dealing with an extreme sunburn with blisters, fever or chills, nausea and vomiting, or confusion, opt-out of using any products that may cause further infection.