How to Stop a Sunburn From Itching

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When a sunburn begins to heal, the itch can seem almost unbearable. The temptation to scratch it may be intense, but scratching the burned skin can lead to infection or scarring. In addition, scratching will only provide momentary relief--the itch will return, and will be worse.

A sunburn’s itch may return from time to time until skin has completely healed; however, there are a few things you can do to promote faster healing and reduce the itch, all at the same time.

Things You'll Need

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Topical anesthetic
  • Moisturizer

Step 1

Take a cool shower. Use only a very mild soap in the shower, and only if necessary--otherwise, just rinse off under cool water and then pat yourself dry.

Step 2

Apply a topical anesthetic to the burned and itchy areas. These anesthetics are sold as sprays or creams and will numb the skin, providing temporary relief.

Step 3

Spread aloe vera gel over the burned area. This will speed the healing of the burn. In addition to using aloe vera, you may use a skin moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated--this will keep it from becoming so dry and itchy.

Step 4

Dress in light, loose clothing. The less fabric touching the itchy areas, the better.

Step 5

Reapply a topical anesthetic as frequently as necessary, but no more than the label indicates is safe. Keep the skin cool--avoid more exposure to the sun until it is completely healed.

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Tips & Warnings

  • You can use aloe vera gels alone, or you can sometimes find aloe vera gels that contain lidocaine or a similar anesthetic. These will heal and soothe the burn while providing temporary relief from itch and pain. If you use these, you shouldn’t use additional anesthetic topical creams and sprays--but you may still use moisturizers.
  • Sunburned skin may be extra sensitive to perfumes and dyes. Use hypoallergenic moisturizers and avoid heavily scented products (this includes soaps).
  • Some people are allergic to anesthetics used in sunburn relief products. You should watch for signs of allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, facial/tongue swelling, breaking out in hives, for example) and discontinue use if these occur.
  • Avoid peeling the skin. Keep it moisturized and as supple as possible to promote healing and cut down on the amount of time it will itch.
  • Deep sunburns--those that cause large, deep blisters--are more prone to infection than superficial sunburns. You should seek a doctor’s advice concerning treatment for deep burns before applying topical medicines.

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