Health And Wellness

How To Use Aromatherapy And Essential Oils For Sunburn Relief

Aromatherapy treatments typically comprise essential oils and a carrier such as vegetable oil, natural butter, or scentless organic cream.

Therefore, we'll look at appropriate essential oils and carriers to use for natural sunburn remedies. 

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Sunburn relief: burns vs overexposure

It's important to stress right up front that if you have a severe sunburn with significant skin blisters, infection, severe pain, and high fever, do not try to treat it yourself with home remedies. Consider seeking conventional medical attention.

If you haven't used your sunscreen or sports clothes with sun protection, and you get overexposed or sunburned, there are all-natural aromatherapy for sunburn relief suggestions to consider. 

Sunburn treatments are a bit different than those used for overexposure. The latter is less severe; yet, still damaging to your skin.

Therefore, the treatment focus is more on skin nourishment, moisturizing, and restoration. Sunburned skin will benefit from nourishment, moisturizing, and restoration too, but it also requires immediate attention to stop inflammation and encourage cooling.

While most people focus on sunburns, overexposure is more common and what people often ignore. If it isn't painful and glaringly obvious, people often do nothing. But, treatment is still beneficial.

Natural sunburn remedies to try out

Aloe vera - the first line of defense.

I find aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) to be extremely helpful for the immediate treatment of burns. It's better than any other carrier I'm aware of. Aloe absorbs quickly, soothes, moisturizes, and cools.

Some people might say, 'Now, wait, aloe vera is not an essential oil so how is that aromatherapy?' Well, carriers are a very important ingredient to aromatherapy applications, and the specific carriers, such as aloe, offer significant healing properties.

A good aromatherapist will pay close attention to the carriers in addition to the selected essential oils. For me, aloe vera is the best carrier for burns.

Aloe works wonders on kitchen burns as well. It's an anti-inflammatory and a mild astringent: excellent properties to address burns. 

It's also good for skin irritations, insect bites, and bee stings too. In fact, Aloe is a great remedy for many summertime issues. Keep it handy.

Aloe makes an excellent addition to a household first aid kit. Keep a bottle or tube in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life, for convenience, and to give your skin an extra wonderful cooling sensation upon contact.

Alternatively, keep a plant in the kitchen. Snip a piece off and squeeze the gel out when needed.

Carriers for aromatherapy treatment for sunburns and overexposed skin.

We've already noted that aloe vera is the best carrier for sunburned skin. For overexposed skin, there are many additional nourishing, moisturizing, and restorative options. This is because the skin is less sore and damaged.

When the skin feels sore or sensitive, I start with aloe and then switch to other carriers and applications when the soreness abates. Some good carrier choices are:

Avocado oil (Persea americana)

Borage seed oil (Borago officinalis)

Calendula macerated (infused) oil (Calendula officinalis)

Carrot macerated oil (Daucus carota)

Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)

Kutui nut oil (Aleuites moluccans)

Rose hip oil (Rosa canina)

Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

Sunflower oil (Helianthus annuus)

Oils tend to be absorbed quickly and each has its own rate of absorption. Butters are thicker and remain on the skin longer, prolonging their contact with the skin surface and the healing process.

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Oil, butter, cream, or lotion

All of the carriers listed above can also be used to make stovetop lotions and creams. Lotions contain more water than creams and are, therefore, lighter and more readily absorbed.

However, since they contain water, they oxidize and go off more quickly than creams.

Take particular note of which carriers can be used full strength and which need to be diluted. Those that can't be used full strength can be mixed with other carriers.

For example, rosehip and calendula should be kept to less than 20% of the total carrier blend. Kukui nut should not exceed 10%.

Obviously, nut oils should not be used by those with nut allergies and wheat germ oil shouldn't be used by those with wheat allergies. Check for standard restrictions before choosing the carriers.

Despite this caution and the restrictions on percentage concentration, all of these carriers have wonderful moisturizing and restorative properties.

Adding a small amount to other carriers can still enhance the treatment and healing with the specific carrier's unique attributes.

Pre-Prep Carriers For Over Exposure.

What I like to do is make up a skin-soothing, skin-healing body butter and leave it in the refrigerator until I need it. I use body butter for overexposure because I focus on nourishing and rehabilitating the skin.

Butters are rich and penetrating, and homemade butters can be made according to one's preferred consistency.

Select essential oils with burn and skin healing properties.

Essential oils can be added to aloe vera, carrier oils, or butters to promote greater relief and enhance or diversify the healing properties. Some essential oils to consider:

Australian blue cypress (Callitris intratropica) 

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Everlasting (Helichrysum italicum)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Sunburn essential oil treatment basics

Both lavender and tea tree can be used in a wide range of household remedies so they would be a more versatile and cheaper option than some of the other essential oils. Roman chamomile is safe and appropriate for children and babies, although, it's important to dilute the essential oils more for babies (1 percent or less).

I always have readily available for immediate treatment pure aloe vera or aloe vera mixed with no more than 2 percent concentration of essential oils. Twelve drops of essential oils to one aloe vera is equivalent to 2 percent. 

This is something anyone can easily organize for themselves and their families. Natural sunburn remedies are often very easy to make or get a hold of. 

Please Note: Some essential oils can cause skin irritation, especially if applied in too high of a concentration. Be especially cautious with sensitive skin, oozing heat blisters, or broken and irritated skin.

And while sunburn is often seen as not a big deal, just one sunburn can increase your chances of developing melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. 

RELATED: 4 Serious Dangers Of Sunburn That Will Convince You To Get Your Sun Protection Ready For Summer

Patricia Bonnard, Ph.D., ACC is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) leadership coach and a certified Martha Beck life coach. For more information, contact her or visit her website.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.