How Do I Relieve Sunburn Itching?

Hydrocortisone cream can relieve the itching and irritation caused by a mild sunburn.
Aloe vera cream, which can help with a sunburn.
Baking soda may help relieve itching.
Oatmeal and honey help moisturize the skin and lock in essential oils.
Ultimately, preventative measures and avoiding burning in the first place are the best ways to treat a sunburn.
Exfoliating the skin can speed up the process of healing sunburn by removing dead skin cells.
Apple cider vinegar can help relieve itching.
Article Details
  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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If you are suffering from a sunburn, one of the most irritating complications is likely the itching that often accompanies it. Fortunately, there are a few ways to stop sunburn itching quickly. One method is to keep the skin moisturized, since dry, irritated skin tends to itch quite a bit. Using lotions and taking baths with certain products, such as oatmeal, can help. You can also purchase soothing gels and topical creams to stop the itch that usually comes along with a sunburn.

An important rule of thumb is to keep the skin as moisturized as possible so that it does not get dry enough to itch. You can look for products that claim to be soothing for use with a sunburn, or you can just purchase lotions and creams that moisturize. Applying these products liberally to the body several times a day is known to stop sunburn itching. Using products that are fragrance-free is often best since artificial scents can irritate sensitive skin. Consider placing the lotion or cream that you choose in the refrigerator, as this will ensure that it is cool and extra soothing when you apply it to the skin.

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Relieving sunburn itching at home can be relaxing, as baths are known to stop the issue, at least temporarily. If you do not have time to go to the store, you can use baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or peppermint to relieve the sunburn itching. You can also make your own oatmeal bath by blending unflavored quick oats in a coffee grinder, blender, or food processor until the flakes are tiny, and then add the powder to cool bath water. You can also usually purchase a colloidal oatmeal bath mix at the store. These products can help moisturize your skin, while the cool bath water can soothe it.

Aloe vera gel is one of the most popular remedies for a sunburn, mainly because it can soothe hot, irritated skin, and stop the itch. You should apply this gel generously to your skin often if you want to create a cooling sensation, and try to find products at the store that contain both aloe and moisturizing products, such as vitamin E or cocoa butter. While these products are soothing and can stop sunburn itching in most cases, there are also items that focus just on eliminating itching caused by various medical conditions. Hydrocortisone is just one example of the kind of product that specializes in eliminating itchiness, though if a sunburn is severe you should first consult with a dermatologist before using it.

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anon976982
Post 11

I've read several inquiries online from people desperately seeking relief as they experience an unusual deep nerve penetrating itch after a sunburn.

My family has experienced this for three generations and since we finally found this solution, we've tried to let others know.

For intense-deep-I'm going crazy-sunburn itch. .get peppermint oil. Be careful not to buy peppermint extract. You can find peppermint oil in health food stores and natural foods stores. There are some pharmacists who know about this and carry it as well -- not many, though.

Rub the oil directly on the affected area until all of the surface is covered. If you can't reach burns on your back, have someone else apply it thoroughly.

The hands of whoever applies it will feel the cooling affect of the oil even after they wash their hands. It feels fine, and not painful in any way. Avoid any contact with eyes, mouth or nose, however, as they will be irritated by the oil.

This is the only thing that works nearly instantly and permanently with this deep nerve sunburn itch that some people experience. One application is all that is necessary since peppermint oil is pretty potent. Please try this. I know the insanity you are feeling if you are going through this right now.

Again, I'm talking about unusually intense deep nerve itching, not regular peeling skin itch that most people experience post sunburn. This deeper, intense almost pinching itch begins usually one or two days following a burn and those who experience it feel as though they are going crazy as its intensity is nearly unbearable.

Things to avoid that only make this itch worse: don't apply any lotion or other oils. This includes pure aloe vera, which seems to just dry it more. Standing under a cool shower spray can help as long as you are in it while you wait for someone to buy the peppermint oil. Anyone who has gone through this knows that any relief brought by the spray of water goes away as soon as you get out of the shower and start to dry the itch returns.

Peppermint oil will remove the itch.

Just writing about this always makes me remember the insane feeling of experiencing this and makes me hopeful others will find this in time to find relief.

Once you've used it, you will know it works. You'll want to keep the oil on hand and avoid at all costs exposing yourself to the sun again like that in the future. We know two things about it: if you've experienced it once you are vulnerable to it happening again, and, it seems to be a genetic thing. About half of my family members have experienced it once, two of them twice. We don't risk it anymore. It is sure nice to know what to do about it, though.

I research this quite a lot to see if others have found this solution. I did see a few posts that have indicated that Gold Balm medicated powder has worked for some relief too. I haven't tried that (and don't intend to ever be in the position to need to), but it's worth writing about any real relief as this is such a crazy thing to experience with no relief.

anon962494
Post 10

I have experienced the "Itch from Hell" a few times now. I am pretty fair skinned and honestly, the only think that I have found that works is benadryl. I have tried various ointments as well as lotions and they do nothing compared to benadryl.

Take it as often as posted on the carton. I took it every 3.5 hours because it seemed to wear off after about four hours and took 30 minutes to begin working. It may last you longer as I am a 6 foot 200 pound male and may be able to process it slightly faster.

I have tried to explain the pain and discomfort to many people of the "hell's itch" and unless you have had it, you won't truly understand. Typically for me it lasts between 12 and 48 hours but benadryl helps me the most. I would also drink as much water as you can in order to hydrate the body which, in turn, will help the skin.

anon960072
Post 9

I use Dr Teal's epsom salts foot bath with peppermint. I think baking soda/epsom salts and peppermint oil (aromatherapy oil) will do. It worked great after getting burned in Florida. I was so itchy I could not stand it. It had great relief after taking a bath two or three times.

I use peppermint aromatherapy for bites that itch and it does great. Just be careful with peppermint and a history of asthma, it can bring on asthma symptoms.

axslue
Post 8

I have the worst itch ever. Its so bad that I made a blog post about it. None of the suggestions here seemed to work. Benadryl provides about an hour of relief.

anon339365
Post 7

If you are one of the people who has tried everything and found that topical creams and gels only makes things worse, then you should try -- of all things -- Ben-gay. That's right -- Ben-gay. It not only stopped the unrelenting itch for me, but it did not return the next day.

First, cool your burn in cool water, pat dry, and apply bengay to every affected part except the face, and voila! Instant relief and a cooling sensation that feels wonderful. I stumbled upon this after trying everything in my medicine repertoire including aloe vera plant, apple cider vinegar, vitamin e, moisturizers, ice cubes, lidocaine, benadryl, listerine. Then out of sheer desperation I tried the Ben-gay that I have for my arthritis and it did the trick. Thank you Jesus!

anon338195
Post 6

Also, using benadryl cream works great. It instantly took the severe itch away. One other remedy that works is also using pure peppermint oil. When using this, just use your fingertips to apply and use very little as this will cause a burning sensation but it will go away and will stop the itching after 5-20 minutes, depending how severe the burn and itch is. The last remedy, which may seem a little strange, is straight vinegar. Spray some vinegar directly to the burned areas and this will stop the itch almost immediately. The smell of the vinegar will go away once it dries on the skin. In some cases, in about an hour, the smell will go away. Trust me -- this works. Hope this works out for some of you.

anon299211
Post 5

I used to have a sunburn itch almost every time I go to the beach or a swimming pool. No need to even start how horrible the feeling is. And I discovered, contrary to what has been said before, that cold triggers such an irritation feeling, so the last time, what I did is apply a burn lotion heavily right after I reached home because all the sunburn lotions didn't work. I didn't even take a bath for the three days to follow. The itch didn't even come. I noticed that covering your body and not wondering about topless also helps especially if there is an AC on in the house. Hope this helps.

Oceana
Post 4

@OeKc05 - I don’t like that sticky feeling that aloe vera gel leaves behind. I don’t mind using a lotion that contains aloe, though.

When I have a severe sunburn itch, I reach for a lotion that contains both aloe and cocoa butter. I slather it on thickly and frequently.

I won’t go anywhere without the bottle of lotion if I’m sunburned. At home, I keep it in the refrigerator, because it feels so good to put something cold and moisturizing on my itchy skin. When I go somewhere, I take the lotion with me in a small cooler.

wavy58
Post 3

Oatmeal baths work great for sunburn relief. Since they also soothe skin conditions like eczema, they are naturally good for comforting irritated, sunburned skin.

I turned bright red after a day at the lake. I had used sunscreen, but I had also spent time floating around on an air mattress, and a lot of the sunscreen stuck to the float, leaving my skin exposed.

I blended up some oatmeal into powder and put it in a semi-cool bath tub. It felt so good that I wanted to stick my face under the water, too. I had to settle for occasional splashes in order to keep from drowning.

OeKc05
Post 2

Aloe vera gel gives me the best sunburn itch relief possible. It goes further than lotion, which just moisturizes. It takes the heat and the burn out of my skin.

I put it on and feel instantly cooler. It’s a little sticky until it dries, so I have to stand around in the bathroom and wait for the stickiness to go away before I put my clothes on. It keeps my feverish skin cool for hours.

The cool thing about aloe vera gel is that it keeps your sunburned skin from peeling. It actually heals the skin. If you have a major burn, you will still peel a little, although not as badly as you would have without the gel.

shell4life
Post 1

Hydrocortisone is a steroid, so it shouldn’t be used over large areas of the body. Since most people get sunburn in the summertime when they are not wearing a lot of clothing, they will need a product that is safe to apply liberally all over.

The problem with steroid cream is that you absorb too much of the medication through your skin if you put on a lot of it. It’s best to just use lotion or some natural remedy like aloe for sunburn itching. You won’t have any bad side effects from those.

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