Sunburns are damaging to your skin and can cause significant itching alongside other symptoms such as pain and inflammation. See these remedies for pain, inflammation, and itch relief.
Extreme itch is often an indication of excessive damage due to prolonged exposure or post-sunburn exposure to UV radiation. This could, for example, happen when you go out in the sun without (re)applying a sunscreen while healing from the first instance.
There are of course cases where some patients develop extreme sunburn itch even without much damage to the skin owing to physiological realities of their bodies.
Your best bet for extreme itch relief is a baking soda, apple cider, or oatmeal bath. If that doesn’t seem to help, you should try using a 1% hydrocortisone cream or oral antihistamines which are available at most local drugstores (pharmacies).
If these still don’t help, consider seeking medical attention.
Looking for instant relief, maybe you want to go shopping and a prominent red rash or itchy skin is the last thing you want to carry with you so to speak? Well, your best bet is to get a cool soak and follow it with hydration with a good moisturizing lotion such as Aquaphor or Cetaphil.
You should not apply petroleum jelly e.g. Vaseline or oils on sunburn as this can worsen it by blocking the pores.
As for itching, an oatmeal or baking soda bath is a safe bet and in case the sunburned skin feels sore to touch, OTC pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen will offer you relief.
To help relief soothe it, some of the home remedies you might want to try to include the following.
1. Cool soaks
A cool soak (or compress) or a shower is a great way to relieve the discomfort typically associated with this problem. This helps to cool and soothe the skin and entails placing a small washcloth soaked in water on the sunburned skin for 15 minutes several times a day.
Rewet the washcloth as often as it is necessary to keep it cool and regardless of what anybody tells you, do not use ice or an ice pack on sunburned skin.
If an extensive or difficult-to-reach area of skin is affected, you may want to take a cool bath or shower. It is, however, advisable to do away with the soap and bath sponge, but if you feel you must use soap, go for one of those mild varieties e.g. Dove, Aveeno Bar etc. once through, pat your skin dry gently using a towel.
Caution: Although taking a cool bath helps the skin, taking too long in the tub can leave your skin lizard-like dry and exacerbate peeling and itching. Ideally, you should not take more than 20 minutes in the bathtub.
After the cool soak or shower, it is time to moisturize your skin. The sun dries out the skin and makes blood vessels and cells to leak, resulting in even more dehydration. To reverse this, it is advisable to apply a good water-based moisturizer such as Cetaphil immediately after taking a cool shower or getting a cool compress.
Some skin care experts recommend chilling the moisturizing lotion in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes prior to applying it for instant cooling and relief from pain and dryness.
3. Drink plenty water:
As you recover, is also important to drink plenty of water. This is because the sun dehydrates your skin as it burns it and that explains the dry look of sunburned skin. The color of your urine will tell you when you are adequately hydrated; it will be almost clear.
In addition, you will want to:
- Avoid further damage by the UV rays as the sunburn heals and thereafter. Take precautions to avoid excessive exposure to the sun in the future. At the very least, apply sunscreen while outdoors and avoid exposure during the sun’s peak hours (10 am – 4 pm).
- Take a balanced diet that is rich in lean meat, vegetables, and fruits
If the affected skin typically feels sore to touch. Luckily there are numerous remedies available to relieve you of the pain including:
1. Aloe vera
Aloe vera contains a natural gel that helps to take pain and inflammation out of sunburn by constricting the blood vessels. The best approach is to apply fresh juice from an Aloe vera plant.
You can get one in most local nurseries. Simply slice a leaf into two along its length and apply the gel directly to the affected area. Repeat five to six time a day until the sunburn has healed.
Alternatively, you can apply one of the many aloe vera gel products which are available at most local pharmacies. You can also order one from online shopping sites such as Walgreen or Amazon.
2. Anti-inflammatory drugs
Over-the-counter (non-prescription) pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin can also help to relieve pain and reduce the inflammation typically caused by sunburn. As with all medicines follow the instructions provided carefully
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another popular pain reliever which helps the pain but won’t relieve inflammation.
Who said that potatoes are only good for those fatty fries that you savor at your local fast food shop? Well, potato juice is a globally recognized pain-relieving remedy and is a safe bet in as far as pain relief is concerned.
Simply take a couple clean potatoes, cut them into small pieces and blend them to make a fine paste and then apply the paste to the sunburned skin. If they seem very dry, you can add a little amount of water. Allow the potatoes time to dry on the skin and then rinse them off with cool water (or take a shower). Repeat several times a day until the pain is relieved.
Alternatively, place the mashed potatoes in a clean gauze or washcloth and then place it on the affected area of skin, changing the dressing in one-hour intervals until the pain is gone.
Here are even more some remedies that you may want to integrate you’re your sunburn care regime:
Milk is a fantastic remedy. According to the Medicinenet.com website, milk works by creating a protein film on the sunburn which helps to relieve the discomfort associated with this problem
Simply place a washcloth dampened with skim milk on the sunburn for a few minutes several times a day.
Tea contains tannin which is believed to help take out heat from the sunburned skin. Simply place 3 to 4 teabags in a pot of boiling water and allow it to simmer for a few minutes when the tea is almost black, remove it from heat and remove the tea bags.
Once the liquid has cooled down, use a washcloth to dab it onto the affected areas of skin and don’t rinse it off. Repeat several times a day.
Cornstarch also ranks among the best home remedies for sunburn relief and is especially useful in easing of chafing (soreness due to rubbing) by elastic bikini, bra, and underwear straps and lining. To use this remedy, simply dust some cornstarch on the affected areas of skin.
How to Relieve Sunburn Itch
Itchy sunburn can make you very uncomfortable and leave you desperate to know what itching relief options work best.
Scratching the itching areas of skin is the last thing you want to do. It might seem a natural thing to do, but in essence, it will only make the itch worse off. With that in mind, here is how to relieve sunburn itch:
1. Baking soda
Adding one to two cups of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to bathing water (cool) is a superb home remedy that does wonders for sunburn itching. Soak in the water for 15 to 20 minutes as staying longer than that can make your skin get particularly dry.
Once through with the bath, allow your skin to air dry (rather than wipe it dry with a towel) and leave the baking soda on.
This common kitchen ingredient is another superb sunburn itch relief remedy. A great way to use this remedy is to add ½ cup oatmeal to cool water bath. You can also use Aveeno colloidal oatmeal powder which is available over-the-counter in pharmacies. Just make sure you follow the instructions given to the letter.
Once through, air dry your skin (don’t towel) and avoid wiping the oatmeal off your skin.
Another common approach to this remedy involves adding oatmeal to a small cotton washcloth, boiling it for 5 minutes or so to soften it, and then using as a sponge while having your shower or bath (without soap).
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which is beneficial for sunburn itching. To use this remedy, place a washcloth in cold water and wring out excess water to leave it damp.
Now splash some apple cider vinegar on the washcloth and dab it on the sunburned areas of your skin.
4. Wear loose-fitting cotton clothes
This helps to prevent further irritation of the skin.
Over the Counter Itch Relief
The home remedies explained in a previous section of this article will help to relieve sunburn itching, but If they don’t seem to be working, or the sunburn seems to be worsening, then you may want to try the following over the counter itch relief option:
1. Topical steroidal creams
Your first bet is a 1% hydrocortisone cream. You can get one from your local drugstore (pharmacy). Ensure however that you use the product according to the instructions provided. It is also not advisable to apply a steroid cream to the vaginal and rectal area.
2. Oral antihistamines
Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton can also be used to relieve itching, but they should not be given to children unless under the supervision of your doctor.
3. Calamine lotion
A calamine lotion can also help to relieve itching and is also effective in drying oozing blisters.