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Peppermint for Sunburn

Mentha x piperita (peppermint)

The mint family of plants is known for its soothing effects on inflamed tissues (although many people think of peppermint first as a remedy for indigestion). Used externally, peppermint soothes by cooling and numbing. It can be used as a local anesthetic. When applied to a sunburn, peppermint cools and numbs the burn, and, because it is also an antiseptic, reduces the likelihood of an infection.

Using Peppermint to Treat Sunburn

Method

  • Take a peppermint bath. Use warm, not hot, water.
  • Make two to four quarts of strong peppermint tea, and add the tea to the bathwater.
  • Soak as long as is comfortable. Repeat as needed.
  • You can also make peppermint tea, cool it, and apply it directly to the skin, or soak a compress in cold peppermint tea, and apply it to the burn.

Why It Works

Peppermint contains menthol, which is a local anesthetic. It can slowly dissolve, slipping through the surface of the skin and reaching (and numbing) the nerves and muscles underneath. The cooling effect of menthol is caused by its tendency to stimulate cold-sensitive nerve endings in the skin.

Precautions

In general, peppermint and the other mints are considered very safe, especially when used topically. Using peppermint or spearmint in the form of tea leaves is safest, and mildest. If you use essential oil of peppermint, it is important to use it very sparingly, as it is extremely concentrated and strong. The menthol in peppermint’s essential oil is so concentrated that it is thought to be toxic in amounts over 2 grams, although there have been no reported cases of overdose.

Some people who have very sensitive skin develop a rash or other skin irritation in response to peppermint.

You should never use peppermint oil on the face of a baby or young child -- inhaling the peppermint fumes can cause a young child to have a reflexive choking or gagging reaction.

As with other herbs, some people may be allergic to mints. Use caution with mint if you are allergic to other herbs in the mint family.

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This information is solely for informational and educational purposes only. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of GrannyMed.com or the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Be aware that many of the techniques and remedies published on this site have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Use of these remedies in connection with other medications can cause severe adverse reactions. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Additional information contained in our Legal Statement

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