Cast after cast you hook up, and you just can’t force yourself to stop fishing long enough to put on suntan lotion—a nasty sunburn is in your future. Yeah, we've all been there. And the worst part is, many fishboats don’t offer much shade or sun protection. So the question isn't will you get burned so much as it is, how are you going to cure that sunburn? I endeavored to find out, by giving myself a burn and then trying different treatments to find out which was the best. Well, okay—that’s a lie. Actually, I accidentally fried myself for the millionth time, and decided to make the best of the situation by at least getting a blog out of it. So I tried four different cures, one on each crispy limb. Here’s what I found out.

sunburned fishermen

Nice fish dude, but you'll be paying the price for that sunburn, for days.

aloe for sunburn

When this stuff hits your sun-burned skin, you'll sigh with relief.

Aloe Gel – This goopy green stuff felt like a god-send hitting my skin. Cool and moist, it provided more immediate relief than anything else. However, 15 or 20 minutes later the burning feeling was back. Re-applying aloe does help, but with each sloppy goo-job the sunburn relief was short-lived.

Oatmeal Compress – In the olden days before aloe could be found on the shelves, an oatmeal compress was a common cure. So I wrapped oatmeal into some gauze, ran cold water over it, and let the compress sit on my skin. It helped, but only until the coolness of the water went away – maybe five minutes. After that, I was left feeling sticky and in need of a (ouch) shower.


sunburn unburn

Unburn proved valuable, for its long-term effect on my painful sunburn.

Unburn This stuff is a new sunburn relief treatment that contains Lidocaine for immediate pain relief, and the makers claim the gel pulls the heat right out of your skin by acting as a heat-exchanger. I found the initial relief was a bit less than that of the cooling aloe, but this stuff actually seems to have more of a long-term affect. The day after using it, the one arm I’d Unburned felt a lot better than the rest of my beet-red body.

Yogurt – I didn't know if this old wife’s tale of a remedy would work, but I figured anything cold on my skin couldn't hurt. And yes, the cool yogurt did feel good at first. But after a few minutes the cold feeling wore off and I was left with a really icky mess to wash off. Unfortunately, washing hurt nearly as much as the initial burn. Use this method as a last resort, when you’re desperate for a momentary lapse in the pain.

The bottom line? Forget about the edible remedies, and stick with the store-bought stuff. From now on I’ll keep some aloe on hand for an initial treatment when my skin’s on fire, then apply some Unburn to keep the pain from coming back.