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Coconut oil for sunburn: Is coconut oil good for sunburn relief?

Too much exposure to the sun can lead to painful sunburns. Too many sunburns in a short period of time can lead to other serious skin problems. So, the first rule would be to try and tone it down a little and not get a sunburn in the first place. Prevention is better than treatment. Moreover, UV radiation can cause more than just sunburns. It can lower your immunity and your body’s ability to fight against certain infections and can cause premature aging of the skin and even cancer (1).

There are, however, some natural remedies for sunburn. One of them is using Coconut oil. Let’s look into it and see how it actually works.

Coconut Oil for Sunburn

Coconut oil for sunburn

Coconut oil is used to treat many skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis (2). However, Its use to treat Sunburn is mostly anecdotal. Many people who make use of coconut oil testify to the fact that it helped them soothe the pain, gave them a relieving cool effect on the skin affected by sunburn, and helped them get rid of peeling and itching during the healing process.

This might be true because coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which is excellent for moisturizing the skin. When the skin is affected by sunburn, it tends to get itchy and dry, and this might make the application of coconut oil a good idea (3).

Is there any scientific proof of its efficacy?

At the moment, there is no clear scientific paper that speaks of the beneficial effects of coconut oil on the skin. Some studies have spoken about coconut oil’s capacity of blocking some of the sun rays, but this means it is good as a sunscreen or protector; it does not necessarily make it good for relieving the symptoms of sunburn. However, according to a 2012 study applying compound high in fat to a first-degree burn would help speed up the healing process and reduce the skin dryness as well.

Furthermore, the saturated fat in coconut, lauric acid, is shown to have antibacterial properties that help prevent infections (4).

How do I use coconut oil for sunburn relief?

The use of coconut oil to combat the effects of sunburn is pretty much straightforward. All you have to do is apply a cool damp cloth to the affected skin for about 15 minutes to cool the skin cells down. Once the skin is cold, you can then apply the coconut oil to the affected area. However, there’s more to it.

Your first line of action should not be the immediate application of coconut oil. The first step you need to take is to cool the surface with a cold compress, not directly with ice but cool water. Ice can cause extra damages to the cell tissues.

Generally speaking, the use of oil to fix burns is a common folk treatment. It could act as a barrier against infection, bacteria, and even air. However, not every oil is the same, meaning that the oils do not act the same way when applied. Coconut oil absorbs into the skin easily without any resulting adverse side effects. Coconut oil could work for mild sunburns, which might heal in a matter of days. However, for those with second- and third-degree burns, the treatment required might take more time to heal. You might need to call your doctor for the following:

 

  • If you have severe pains.
  • If there are signs of infections such as increased pains, pus, and red streaks.
  • If you have headaches, fever, and cold.
  • If your sunburns cover the entirety of your body.
  • If the sunburn causes blisters
  • If you have vomiting and nausea

To prevent the sunburn from worsening, avoid exposure to the sun until you heal. There are rare occurrences where people have allergic reactions to coconut oil. If you experience intense redness, more than the time of the sunburn, or itching once you apply the oil to the skin, stop using the coconut oil and contact your doctor for more medical advice.

Conclusion

Coconut oil has proven to have some beneficial effects in protecting the skin against sunburns. However, a lot of research needs to be done on this matter. It would seem it could be beneficial to the skin, but there is a lot of uncharted territories for the dermatologists to look into. However, in folk medicine, coconut oil is a well-known remedy for sunburns. A lot of people could testify that it has helped them. So maybe there is something to coconut oil that could help with sunburns. However, if the symptoms worsen, you should immediately see a doctor. Sunburns are not trifling matters to mess with.

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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, and written, fact-checked & medically reviewed by health experts.

Throughout this article, you'll find scientific references (clickable links to highly trusted peer-reviewed scientific papers, links denoted by the numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3)).