My mom says cold milk is the best home remedy for sunburn

A cold milk compress may help you get rid of sunburn, which can cause redness, discomfort, and swelling. Let's find out if this home remedy for sunburn works.
Home remedies for sunburn
Cold milk for sunburn. Image courtesy: Adobe stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 6 Dec 2023, 05:00 pm IST
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Sunburn is bad news for your skin. But you can’t really avoid the sun and its rays, especially when you want to enjoy the heat during the cold season. Like many, I recently got overexposed to the ultraviolet rays while soaking up the sun and ended up with redness, discomfort and swelling. I went to my mom for sunburn treatment. She told me to put cold milk on my skin! Well, it worked wonders for me, so let’s find out if cold milk is actually a good home remedy for sunburn for everyone.

What is sunburn?

Skin damage known as sunburn is a result of excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, says Dr Jatin Mittal, a cosmetologist. Your skin cells may suffer damage to their DNA as a result of prolonged exposure to UV rays. This sets off an inflammatory reaction in the body, giving rise to redness, discomfort, and swelling. Apart from these immediate consequences, sunburn can also harm skin over time, accelerating the ageing process and raising the risk of skin cancer.

Woman with a sunburn
Sunburn causes redness and discomfort. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Why is it important to avoid sunburn?

It’s important to protect your skin from sunburn for a number of reasons.

1. Sunburn can cause discomfort

Sunburn can be painful and uncomfortable, as the affected skin may become red and swollen. Severe sunburns can even lead to blistering and peeling, causing additional discomfort.

2. Sunburn increases risk of skin cancer

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation, leading to sunburns, is a major risk factor for skin cancer, says the expert. This includes both non-melanoma skin cancers (such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) and melanoma, a more dangerous form of skin cancer.

3. Sunburn causes premature ageing

Sunburn accelerates the ageing process of the skin, as it can lead to the development of wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.

4. Sunburn can contribute to dehydration

The body loses fluids through the damaged skin in case of a sunburn. So, staying well-hydrated is essential for your skin and overall health.

As soon as you become aware of a sunburn, it’s critical to begin treating it to relieve the stinging skin and promote healing.

Woman with a sunburn
Try cold milk for sunburn relief. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How does cold milk for sunburn work?

Some take a shower with cold water, or apply cold water to skin to cure a sunburn. Another common home remedy for sunburn is cold milk, which has a cooling effect. Although there is little scientific proof to support this particular treatment, there are some reasons why it might help.

1. Cooling effect

Sunburn sufferers can get instant relief from the heat of their skin by using cold milk to help cool their skin. The chilly temperature may aid in blood vessel constriction, lowering discomfort and inflammation, says Dr Mittal.

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2. Moisturises the skin

Milk includes proteins and lipids, both of which may have a moisturising quality. So, applying milk on skin can help to moisturise and relieve the dryness and peeling that are frequently brought on by sunburn.

3. Skin renewal

Lactic acid, which is a mild exfoliator, is found in milk. This could accelerate skin renewal and help to get rid of dead skin cells, which could speed up the healing process.

How to use cold milk for sunburn treatment?

If you want to try using cold milk for sunburn relief, do the following:

  • Refrigerate the milk or add ice cubes to make it cold. Cold temperatures can help soothe the heat of the sunburn.
  • Dip a clean cloth or cotton ball into the cold milk.
  • Gently apply the milk-soaked cloth or cotton ball to the affected areas of your skin.
  • Allow the cold milk to sit on your skin for a few minutes then gently rinse it off with cold water.

Some people also find that applying cold yoghurt to their sunburned skin helps to soothe it. Like cold milk, yoghurt has specific characteristics and a cooling effect that may provide relief, says Dr Mittal.

What are the side effects of using cold milk compress for sunburn?

Using a cold milk compress for sunburn relief is generally considered safe for most people, and side effects are rare. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential side effects that may occur.

1. Allergic reactions

Some people may be allergic to components in milk. If you are allergic to dairy or you are lactose intolerant, using milk on your skin may cause irritation or an allergic reaction.

2. Bacterial contamination

If the milk is not handled and stored properly, it could become contaminated with bacteria. Using contaminated milk on sunburned skin may lead to infections, says the expert. Ensure that the milk is fresh and clean before applying it.

If your sunburn is severe or if you experience persistent pain, blistering or other concerning symptoms, talk to your doctor.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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