The Cure to Your First Seasonal Sunburn Is in Your Fridge

A woman has a tan line from a sunburn.

When I was growing up, my fair skin was prone to sunburn (and still is). When the inevitable burn appeared, my mother would coat my skin in milk. But does milk work to combat sunscreen or was this just an old wives’ tale?

As it turns out, milk can help alleviate the symptoms of sunburn as well as speed up the healing process. This old wives’ tale does have some merit.

Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, medical director of Mudgil Dermatology, told Good Housekeeping sunburns damage your DNA, causing skin cells to die, and creating redness, inflammation, swelling, and pain. When this happens, many people reach for things like ice packs to alleviate the symptoms, but milk can actually work wonders.

According to Mudgil, milk contains several key ingredients that aid in sunburn healing. First, there’s the lactic acid that helps gently exfoliate the dead skin cells away. Milk also contains vitamin A and vitamin D which act as antioxidants to heal the skin. Finally, the coolness of the milk helps pull the heat from the skin to soothe.

Of course, the best thing to do this spring and summer as you’re spending more time outside is to stock up on your sunscreen. Be sure to apply 15 minutes before going outside and reapply frequently—particularly if in water or prone to sweating—in order to prevent sunburn altogether.

If, however, a sunburn happens to slip through the sunny cracks, milk is one of a handful of at-home remedies that can actually help.

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