Feeling the Burn? Coconut Oil Can help!

coconut oil for sunburn

Move over aloe, there’s a new treatment for sunburn in town. Surprise — it’s coconut oil!

Oil…for a sunburn?

We know what you’re thinking. Oil sounds like the last thing you want to put on a burn. And you’re half-right. Many oils such as cooking oil or butter can actually trap the heat of a burn and make it hurt more. Coconut oil is different because it’s readily absorbed by the skin and doesn’t create a barrier. That said, it’s still a good idea to apply a cold, wet compress to your sunburn for at least 15 minutes to cool your skin before you apply coconut oil.

How does it work?

Coconut oil appears to help sunburns in three ways:

  1. It moisturizes. To state the obvious, burns are incredibly drying. That’s why experts recommend treating mild burns with lotions that contain lipids (doctor-speak for fat).[1] Coconut oil is 99 percent lipid.
  2. It soothes. Burns also hurt! Luckily, research has found that virgin coconut oil may have analgesic qualities that alleviate pain and soothe the skin.[2]
  3. It heals. A mild sunburn typically lasts three to five days. Coconut oil can speed that process along because it hastens “epithelialization,” a process in which new skin cells are laid down over a wound.[3]

When not to use coconut oil

Use coconut oil only for mild burns, not severe ones with blisters or burns or those accompanied by nausea, a fever, or chills. If you have any of those symptoms, seek medical attention rather than trying to treat it yourself.

Some people use coconut oil as sunscreen, but it only has an SPF of 7.1, so it’s not recommended.[4] And while coconut oil can ease the sting of a sunburn, it doesn’t reduce the health risks, so be sure to slather a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or wear protective clothes before you have fun in the sun. 

 

References

[1] Lloyd ECO, et al. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Jan 1;85(1):25-32.

[2] Intahphuak S. Khongsung P, Panthong A.  Pharm Biol. 2010 Feb;48(2):151-7.

[3] Srivastava P, Durgaprasad S. Indian J Pharmacol. 2008 Aug; 40(4);144-146.

[4] Can coconut oil treat sunburn? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/coconut-oil-for-sunburn#use

 

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