Applying tea bags to sunburned skin is a simple, at-home remedy to ease pain caused by too much sun exposure. The naturally soothing properties of tannic acid in tea can relieve discomfort associated with a sunburn.
Types of Tea
In addition to tannic acid, many teas are rich in antioxidants, which can also soothe red and tender sunburned skin. Choosing a tea that features these key properties is essential when using tea bags to treat sunburn.
- Black tea is most often recommended for sunburn treatment because it's a strong tea rich in tannic acid. Use plain black tea, such as Assam tea or Nepalese black tea, or even a flavored variety such as Earl Grey.
- Green tea is an antioxidant-rich tea that doubles as an anti-inflammatory for your sunburned skin. While green tea comes from the same species of plant -- Camellia sinensis -- as black tea, its leaves remain fresh, rather than being fermented, which may boost the tea's antioxidant benefits for your sunburn.
- Chamomile tea boasts similar anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that soothe sunburned skin.
Tea Bag Tips
No matter what kind of tea you use to relieve your discomfort, they only work if used in the proper way. Two methods can effectively soothe your sunburn.
Steep a few tea bags in boiling water for about three to five minutes. Let the tea bags cool so they're lukewarm or room temperature. Apply them to your sunburned skin for instant relief -- you'll notice that the skin is instantly soothed and less tender to the touch thanks to the tea bags.
If your back is sunburned, you might have trouble keeping the tea bags on without assistance. Instead, have a friend apply the steeped -- and then cooled -- tea onto your sunburn using a clean washcloth or cotton ball. The soothing effect will be just as potent as using tea bags.
After using tea bags on your sunburn, apply coriander oil, an essential oil derived from the coriander plant, to the inflamed skin. A March 2008 study published in the _Journal of the German Society of Dermatology _indicated that this essential oil works well as a mild anti-inflammatory for sunburned skin. Taking over-the-counter ibuprofen can ease the inflammation -- specifically, swelling and redness -- of a sunburn, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Tea is a gentle, natural way to soothe your sunburn, but in some cases, your sunburn will require evaluation by a physician. See your doctor if your sunburn develops blisters, especially if they are red, painful or oozing any pus.