Does Coconut Oil Help Sunburn?

Coconut oil is proven to be an effective agent against the harmful rays of the sun.

Coconut Oil for Sunburn

Too much basking under the sunlight may more likely to result in sunburn than of having tanned skin. This is general knowledge. But what most people do not know is the treatment against the painful result of too much sun exposure.

Have you ever heard of the use of coconut oil for sunburn? Perhaps you don’t and it’s okay. Or perhaps you’ve already heard of it but is not completely aware of its full potential as well if the tell-tale use is a fact or not. In this article, we are going to discuss the potential of coconut oil against sunburn as well as the strength of evidence backing it up. Let’s find out if coconut oil does help sunburn.

But first, let us expand what coconut oil can do for your sunburn as well as some of the general knowledge about coconut oil and sunburn.

Coconut oil is proven to be an effective agent against the harmful rays of the sun. Yup! The aromatic oil has been found by researchers to contain a 7.1 SPF. Surely that level of protection is not enough to consider coconut oil as a sunscreen, but little protection is better than none at all. Also, for the benefit of information, SPF of 30 or more is the best defense against sunburn.

General Knowledge About Sunburn and Coconut Oil

  1. Coconut oil should not be your medical first aid kit. It is, however, be beneficial after cooling down the sunburned skin using a cold compress or a cool, damp towel. Never use ice directly to the skin. This can lead to more skin damage.
  1. Using oil has been a popular folk remedy against sunburn. However, oils have different characteristics. They have their own use depending on the situation and properties. The presumption behind the use of oil of any kind against sunburn is that it protects against infection, air, and bacteria, but this is not true. Coconut oil can be easily absorbed by the skin and does not seem to have a negative effect as well; unlike cooking oil, for example, that are not easily absorbed by the skin and does trap heat and worsen the burn, resulting to an intensified pain to the affected area.
  1. Sunburns have degrees (but not the diploma-type of degree). Mild sunburns can heal by itself in a few days. Second to third-degree sunburns, on the other hand, needs medical attention, especially if the following symptoms appear:
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Chills, headache, and fever
  • Signs of infection such as intensified pain as well as inflammation
  • Sunburn that covers most of your body
  • Sunburns that result in blisters
  • Painful sunburn

Prevent sunburn to get worse by avoiding sun exposure until it completely heals. Also, drink a lot of fluid during the healing process as sunburn tends to dehydrate the body.

There are rare cases of people being allergic to coconut oil. If you are included in these rare cases, say you are experiencing intensified itch, redness, and rash after using coconut oil, stop using the oil immediately and make an appointment with your doctor.

Does Coconut Oil Help Sunburn

Coconut oil is believed to treat many skin diseases including sunburn. According to experts, its benefit to sunburn might be true since it can help relieve itch and skin peeling, cooling and soothing sunburn.

Additionally, coconut oil has lots of saturated fats, which is a very effective skin moisturizer. Generally, sunburn is itchy and dry, but because of the coconut oil’s properties, it might help relieve the sunburn’s symptoms.

Steps to Apply Coconut Oil

The following procedures are vital for the right healing process of your sunburned skin if you are using coconut oil as a remedy.

  • It is important to know that applying coconut oil in the first sign of sunburn is not a good idea. Let the skin cool first by applying a cool compress to the sunburned area. A cool, damped towel may also be used as a substitute. Nevertheless, taking a cool bath (not cold) is also applicable to this case.
  • Once the sunburned area has cooled, you may apply the coconut oil. Remember that cooling your skin may take several hours.

Experts Insights

Scientific evidence to prove the use of coconut oil against sunburn is still in progress. But there are a few studies that can somehow support its claim.

In a 2012 study, it was reported that lotions which are high in lipids, or fats, are helpful in speeding up the healing of a first-degree burn. It also decreases dryness.

Meanwhile, in a 2014 review about vivo and vitro, these two compounds have a positive impact against bacteria. It is because of its lauric acid content which is a saturated fat found in coconut oil. In other words, the review suggests that coconut oil can help prevent infection caused by sunburn.

On a separate study which test subjects are mice and rats, coconut oil showed to lower body temperature through its analgesic and inflammatory properties.

These findings are promising, but conclusive data are still needed to prove the coconut oil used against sunburn.


The treatments for sunburn do not heal the sunburn. They simply make the healing process more comfortable.

Most of the coconut oil studies for sunburn are anecdotal. It may help to moisturize the sunburned skin as well as reduce the peeling and itching, nevertheless, be wise in applying it by making sure that the skin has been cooled down. Meaning to say, apply a cold compress before applying the coconut oil.

Finally, use organic, virgin coconut oil only for your skin. Other types of coconut oil may be harmful and may cause certain damage than treatment. These type of coconut oil may have been bleached or mixed with other oils and other chemicals during the extraction process. You better ask for a health expert’s advise before trying any coconut oil product for your sunburn.

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