Summer Sunburns

No matter how hard we all try to avoid it, every child will get sunburned at least once in their lives. But don’t despair; there are some wonderful and inexpensive products you can have in your home to help heal that fiery, burning pain for your child.

You should also know that many ‘natural’, plant based products lose their healing components if they sit on a shelf for an extended period of time—aloe vera is one example. The aloe vera plant is only beneficial after the soothing gel of the plant is extracted from the leaf and used directly. Its healing ability becomes inactive very quickly. Unfortunately, most products that have aloe vera as the main ingredient have been on the shelf far too long to still be effective.

But all hope is not lost; below are three superb items that all parents and caregivers should have on-hand during the steamy summer months.

  • Fresh aloe vera plant is very inexpensive, easy to care for and can be purchased at most florists and many housewares stores. To use the plant for burns, simply break off a part of the leaf and squeeze out some of the thick, slimy gel and apply it directly to the skin. If you know you are going to spend the whole day outdoors, you can break off a leaf and place it in the refrigerator before you leave so it will be nice and cool to apply to your child’s skin. You can apply the gel once a day or as often as every hour.
  • Saint John’s wort oil is my absolute favorite. It’s the gorgeous yellow flowers of the Saint John’s wort plant, when infused with olive oil turn into a magnificent red oil. If this oil is not available at your local health food store, it can be purchased on the Internet. Saint John’s wort oil does not have a long shelf life, but when bought directly from an herbalist, the oil will take you through the entire summer and into winter. Although the Saint John’s wort herb has become popular in the use of depression, an equally effective use of this plant is to help ease nerve pain—like the pain of an ear infection or when used on the skin after a burn. It not only helps heal the damaged tissue, but helps relieve the nerve pain associated with the burn. This oil can be mixed with gel from the aloe plant and put directly on the burn at least once a day but as often as every hour. Saint John’s wort oil does not need to be refrigerated.
  • Lavender essential oil is extremely helpful with both sunburns and kitchen burns. Make sure it is the pure essential oil and not a lotion containing lavender. This essential oil’s ability to repair damaged skin is remarkable. This oil works best if diluted. A few drops could be added to a body lotion or pure olive oil and then spread over the burn. What’s even better is to add a few drops to either the gel of the aloe plant or the St. John’s wort oil.

If you are able to purchase the above three items you can make your own special sunburn concoction by adding all of them into a glass bottle that can be stored in your refrigerator. You can start by purchasing a four ounce glass amber jar with a glass dropper at your local pharmacy or on-line. Begin the mixture by taking off an aloe leaf, at the pointy end of the leaf, and holding it over the opening of the jar; slowly massage the plant allowing the gel-like liquid to go into the bottle until it’s a quarter full. Next, add two ounces of St. John wort oil and add 35 drops of pure lavender essential oil; cover the bottle with the dropper and shake, mixing all of the ingredients together, then store it in the fridge. You can add a teaspoon of pure vitamin E oil as a natural ‘preservative,’ if you have some in the house. This mixture will stay fresh in the fridge for eight to twelve weeks.

By Sara Chana Silverstein, IBCLC, BA, Herbalist and Student of Homeopathy. She is a licensed Lactation Consultant helping women and babies with breastfeeding problems. She also works with children and adults with chronic ear and strep infections, stomach problems and emotional issues. She can be reached at 718-467-1455.