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Sun Burn

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


Sunburns are usually first-degree burns only affecting the epidermal layer of the skin.  They are caused by over exposure to the sun or other source of UVR (ultraviolet radiation).  The result is a red painful skin that feels hot to the touch.  Severe sunburn can lead to blistering and be classified as a mild second-degree burn. 

The best cure for sunburn of course is prevention, especially for sensitive skin.  Also be aware that, although direct sunlight is a risk, partly cloudy days or direct sunlight with reflecting water can be even more risky.   For general information the classification of burns is included.

Classification of Burns

The severity of burns is indicated by the degree of the burn.  The higher the degree number the worse the burn.  A simplified description of the degree of burns is included below:

First-Degree Burns – Only affects the outer layer (epidermis) of the skin with redness and discomfort.

Second-Degree Burns – Extends into the second layer (dermis) of the skin.  As the epidermis is damaged it separated from the dermis and fluid accumulates.  This blistering is the most common characteristic of second-degree burns.  As the epidermis is compromised the possibility of infection is present.  This is also the most painful of burns since the nerve endings in the dermis may be exposed.

Third-Degree Burns – Extends through the epidermis and dermis and into the subcutaneous tissue of the skin.  Blisters may form and infection must be considered.  The nerve endings may be destroyed with the burn such that there is no feeling.

Forth-Degree Burns – In very extreme cases damage extends below the skin layers into muscle and bone tissue. 

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  Frankincense, LavenderC, MelaleucaC, Peppermint, SandalwoodC

Essential oils based products:

Also consider: HelichrysumC, Roman ChamomileC, SandalwoodC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:


Add 20 drops each of Lavender (soothing, healing) and Peppermint (cooling) to a 2 ounce spray bottle.  Fill the remainder with either water or fractionated coconut oil.  Shake and apply as soon as possible to the sunburned area.  Repeat every 2 hours for the 4 to 6 times. 

Continue with a blend of 1 ounce fractionated coconut oil and 20 drops each of Lavender and Frankincense sprayed or applied directly 2 to 4 times daily.  If there is any blistering add 20 drops of Melaleuca to the mixture to prevent any infection from open sores.


To prepare a moderate sunscreen add 60 drops each of Helichrysum and Lavender to a 2 ounce spray bottle.  Others have noted that replacing Lavender with Sandalwood proved even more successful. Fill the remainder with fractionated coconut oil. Spray on and use as any store purchased sunscreen.

Before and after:

8 - 10 drops each Helichrysum, Lavender and Sandalwood with 5 oz (...) Hand & Body Lotion, 1.5 oz filtered water in an 8 oz squeeze bottle. Shake and use before and after sun exposure.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

What about sunburn?

Jan -  I make a really effective before and after sun lotion - 8 oz plastic squeeze bottle (for room to shake it up), 5 oz (...) Hand & Body Lotion (approx.), 1.5 oz filtered water (approx.), 8-10 drops each of Lavender, Helichrysum, Sandalwood. Include it or not, as you wish. 

Laura - My son got a sunburn that was so bad he couldn't move his arms and his skin was beet red and getting redder every second, swelling and starting to blister.  I took the Lavender and splashed it all over his arms, carefully patting it because he was already crying from the pain and couldn't take my rubbing it in.  I didn't have any FCO, but Peppermint came next.  We discovered that if there were spots I hadn't hit with the Lavender, the Peppermint stung, so watch that.  In two hours, he could move his arms again, bending them at the elbows and everything, the red had lightened, and by morning his skin was light beige (a sun tan for him - he's a towhead), no blistering, no peeling skin, no more pain, nothing.  My son has learned to remember sunscreen when he goes swimming with friends on a nice sunny day.   I know - I was worried about essential oils on a sunburn, too, but the Lavender seemed to reverse the skin damage and repair it without holding the heat in that you're normally worried about with a burn.


Kathy - Just got back from girls camp. I decided to only use (...) Repellent Blend for my bug spray. I came home bug bite free!! I also decided to go all natural with my sunscreen so I did Helichrysum, Lavender and fractionated coconut oil mixed in an old Lavender bottle and used a spray top. Again I came home with healthier skin and sunburn free!! The bonus though was that because I would just spray it on my face it protected my lips as well. I love essential oils.  Also it is the first time while camping that people would actually come up to me and tell me how good I smelled!

Melanie - We had the same success with Repellent Blend at my son's scout camp. I would be interested in the "recipe" for the sunscreen, what was the ratio you used? Thanks,

Kathy - The sunscreen recipe that I used was 60 drops of Helichrysum, 60 drops Lavender and then I filled the rest of the bottle with the fractionated coconut oil. This was the first time that I had the spray tops and I loved them.

Protocols folks recommend for children


Kelly was 12 years old and lived by a fairly large lake.  One Saturday he invited his friend Robbie to walk around the lake.  They decided that they would pack a lunch, take their wrist rockets and spend the day exploring around the lake.  They both had fanny packs and put their lunches in them. About ½ hour into their trek, the sun was beating down on them.  To be a bit cooler, they both removed their shirts and tied them around their waist.  Had their moms known, they would have been horrified at the shirtless trek especially along the shores of a highly reflective lake.

After a few hours, the sun was feeling hot on their backs. They took a few minutes to take off their fanny packs and wade into the water, playing and swimming for another half hour. 

It was after the dip, that Robbie realized his back seemed to itch.  He called to Kelly.

“Scratch the middle of my back”

Kelly took aim with his fingernails and swiped along the center of Robbie’s back.


Robbie pulled away in pain.  Kelly immediately realized why.

“Wow, you’re burned.  Am I burned too?” 

Robbie focused on Kelly’s shoulders.  Indeed they were bright red.

The two boys put back on their shirts and decided to expedite their trip home.  When they walked into Kelly’s house, Kelly’s mom, Marlene, noticed they were not feeling well. 

“What's wrong boys?” Marlene questioned.

Kelly pulled his shirt away from his shoulder, exposing the bright red burn.

“Oh heavens!!  You boys weren’t out there with your shirts off weren't you?”

Robbie and Kelly both did a guilty nod.

“Well the sleep over is lost.  Robbie I will call your mom.” Marlene announce with a bit of anger in her tone.

The boys were disappointed, but were mostly not feeling well.  Robbie could tell this burn was making him not feel well.

When Robbie’s mom, Carol, came to pick him up, Marlene tried to apologize.

“No.  These boys should know better.”  She said with a stern glance at Robbie. “This was not your fault.”

Carol went on to tell Marlene that she had a natural remedy that was very effective for burns and offered to share it.  When Carol explained they were essential oils, Marlene declined saying she had some Solercain, and that she would use that.

Back home, Robbie was feeling the pain.  As his mom helped remove his shirt, Robbie winced in pain.  His back and shoulders were bright red, and as Carol held her hand over Robbie’s back she could feel the heat of the badly burned skin.

Carol was quick to work. She grabbed a small spray bottle out of a cabinet.  She filled it with cool filtered water, about a half cup.  She then grabbed the Peppermint essential oil and the Lavender.  She new the Peppermint would be cooling, and the Lavender would be efficacious for the burn.  She put about 12 drops of each in the spray bottle and began to shake it very well.  She then got behind Robbie and began to spray his back.

Weeehhh!  Robbie let out a cry.

“Are you ok?” Carol asked.

“Its cold, Mom!”  Robbie complained.

But before Carol could argue its need, Robbie said; “but its ok, it feels good now.”

Carol finished spraying his back and shoulders liberally.  After she was done, she decided to add some more drops to the spray bottle to make the spritz a little more concentrated.  She added 10 more drops of each oil.  Carol would watch Robbie’s back and spray every time the oils and water had seemed to evaporate or be absorbed.  Sometimes as much as once or twice or even more per hour.

After applying about 6 times, Carol made a blend of a teaspoon of melted virgin coconut oil and about 15 drops of Frankincense.  She would then carefully rub the blend into his back and shoulders.  By now it was late into night, Robbie was sleeping and the touching of his back would cause him to stir and moan.  But it seemed to be analgesic afterward, because Robbie would immediately fall into deep breathing and obviously be asleep.

Over the next week, Carol was persistent in her applications of Lavender and Frankincense.  As the burn healed and got less tender, she would apply Lavender neat to his shoulders and back. 

About a week and a half after the Lake Trek, Carol got a call from Kelly’s mom, Marlene.  Marlene went on to describe the horrible suffering that Kelly had gone through, and that most of the blisters had just popped,  and Kelly was suffering through sever itching now.  She also described a very bad area on Kelly’s shoulder where the exposed tissue from a popped blister had become infected.

Carol almost didn’t have the heart to describe Robbie’s quick and uneventful quick recovery with no blistering or peeling.  She sympathized with Marlene sayng;

“I hope these boys learned their lesson!”

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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.