23 answers

Itching After a Sunburn

I wanted to see if anyone had some advice on why I itch after a sunburn and what to do about it. More than a week ago I got a minor sunburn on my legs while at the beach, the pain from the sunburn was gone within a day and it's gone completly now but the areas that were burned itch like crazy. I thought that it had just dried my skin out and I've been putting lotion on my legs. We'll my legs are nice and soft and still itch. Any ideas?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

There could be something in the lotion that you are sensitive to or allergic to. I am allergic to cocoa butter,(and chocolate) If I use a lotion that has cocoa butter in it I break out and itch terribly.

I am with you...I can't stand itching! Take some benedryl or spray the benadryl spray on it. Good luck!

More Answers

I just had that happen a couple of weeks ago. I got a sunburn on my back, used sunscreen and still got burned. Anyway, after a couple of days my back itched really bad for about a week. My skin was healing and as part of the healing process it itches. This is normal. Just keep putting lotion on, something that is soothing with aloe in it. Or use aloe vera gel, the green stuff works great, the one with the cooling stuff in it, it will keep the itching to a minimum. It will go away and you may start to peel even. Hopefully not, but it may happen. Don't worry, you are normal. Good Luck and God Bless.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi. I read through all of the responses, and only one person mentioned vinegar. Is smells awful, but for a new sunburn it does take the burn out.
The other thing that nobody mentioned in Ocean Potion...They have it at Wal-mart and most any place that sells sunscreen. It is aloe and lidocaine (numbing agent) and tea tree extract. If you use it right away it seems to prevent a lot of the after effects of sunburn. It is a gel and it's usually blue...there are other products like it that work just as well...but look for the blue gel.
And finally...for the itch...Use oatmeal lotions and bath products. The Aveeno collidal oatmeal lotion will help with the itch, and a soak in an oatmeal bath ((can get at the pharmacy) helps a lot.
I have fair skin and burn easliy. I try to stay out of the sun and lotion up if I have to be out...I end up burning anyway sometimes... The burn feeling I can cope with, but not the itch...When it gets really bad I take benedryl and tylenol...and ice packs on the area will calm the itch too. Otherwise you just have to deal with it...Not fun.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, that is the worst feeling EVER! My husband has actully had to be put on vicodin after a sunburn before, b/c of the pain and itching. But, all I know to do is aloe. They also make a lidocain spray that sometimes works, as long as the burn is gone. And I have to say this, PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN! I never did as a kid up into my early 20's. Then when I was 24 and prego with my 2nd daughter, I had stage 2 melanoma on my neck. And I never was the type to be really tan or anything. I went to a tanning bed sometimes, but nothing like my friends. And I end up with skin cancer. So it can happen soooooo easily. Please use sunscreen from now on. That sunburn has caused damage, you don't need anymore. I now have over 20 scars all over my body because places keep coming up. And the right side of my neck has a big noticable scar....not worth the tanning:)!

I hope you get to feeling better! That feeling is torture!

1 mom found this helpful


The itch has nothing to do with dry skin and there is no lotion that will relieve it. The itch is the damaged nerve endings and the skin healing and re-growing. Remember, back when you were a kid and you'd skin your knee, and then a good few days later the scabs would start to itch like crazy? It's exactly the same thing. Aloe may help speed the healing process, but there is nothing you can do to relieve that itch. Of course, I'm no doctor, and it's perfectly possible that I'm completely wrong about this, for what that's worth;)

Ooooh Sunburns! I hate it when that happens!

When the top layers of skin are burned your body wants to slough off the dead skin, but it needs time to prepare the layers beneath. Once the cells are dead, there is no amount of moisturizing that will bring them back to life. If it is still itching a week later, it is likely to peel. The tender skin below is irritated by the dead layers of dermal cells. It just takes time. The itching sensation is just your body's way of suggesting that you exfoliate, which is too painful to do after a sunburn.

If you are going to use pure aloe vera, it is best used immediately after the skin is burned. Used quickly enough, it can actually rescue the skin cells and heal a minor burn. You also have to read the lable carefully on the so-called 'pure' aloe gels. If you really want a good aloe gel, get it from Cheryl's Herbs in Mapelwood. You might want to add just a bit of jojoba oil to the aloe for the best results. Jojoba is the closest thing chemically to your skins natural oils. Cheryl's may have a product just for sun burns. It is true that most 'skin lotions' contain problematic ingredients such as alcohols, polyparabens, and various forms of petro-chemicals such as petrolatum, mineral oil, etc. Burt's Bees makes an after-burn lotion that I would trust and you can get it at Walgreen's, Dierbergs, etc. Burt's Bees also makes the safest sunscreen I know of.

Good luck healing your burn, S..

For those who are interested, I will jump onto my soapbox with some FYI on skin care for summer:

As mom's it is good to learn about skin care. We put a number of toxic ingredients on our skin as if we were made of plastic. Many of the ingredients in topical products will either clog the skin, such as antipersperants and lotions with petro-chemicals, or they have toxic ingredients that are easily absorbed by the skin and stress internal organs such as the liver.

In fact, the levels of chlorine in the public pools today are, I feel, quite dangerous. It is easily absorbed through the skin and reaches the heart within seconds. Most people are filtering their water so they won't drink the dangerous chlorine and flouride in tap water, but few realize that the skin drinks it in. If we were smart, we would demand that all public pools become salt pools so they are safe for our children, and for us! Chlorine can be especailly difficult to tollerate for children with allergies, neurological, and/or developmental issue, but so few people seem to know this. We see kids having headaches, upset stomachs, or seeming hyper or depressed after swim practice or a few hours at the pool and we chalk it up to too much activity, eating junk food, or too much sun. Swimming didn't give kids headaches when I was a kid! We always felt better after swimming and we slept great.

Hi S.,
The reason why you are itching is because the sunburn is healing. As with anything else that heals, like a cut/scratch/scrape, your skin is "recouping" from what happened to it. I got a sunburn last week and it's just finally starting to go away, and dag-gum it itches! Haha, but don't worry about it, it's natural. You can put aloe vera on it and see if that helps with the itching. You can use aloe for all sorts of things, sunburn is the main one, and also for bug bites. While i got my sunburn i also acquired 40+ chigger and mosquito bites. But anyway, it's all fine and natural. Don't worry, plus look at it this way, you'll have a nice tan, haha!


I am with you...I can't stand itching! Take some benedryl or spray the benadryl spray on it. Good luck!

you actually should put an aloh gel on that helps with the itch and puts moisture back in your skin. If you use a lotion be sure you do it several times a day. and be sure it is for dry skin...

My sunburns have always itched. I've never had a sunburn (or a tanning bed burn) that didn't. But, yes, the skin usually dries out and needs lotion. Maybe try another lotion.

I'd recommend taking Benedryl and it will help stop the itching. You must have gotten a fairly deep burn and so the skin is trying to heal itself and that's why it itches. I'd also continue to keep your skin hydrated with lotion.

S. -

You skin itches because it is dried out. You are correct to think this. Even though you may be using lotion, the deeper layers of your skin are still dry (everyone has about 7 layers of skin). You probably need to use a higher quality lotion, or after sun treatment. I am a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant and we offer a fantastic body lotion, and an after sun gel that would penetrate to those deeper layers of your skin. You can visit my website to learn more about these products, or give me a call. Hope your skin feels better soon!


I always use Panama Jack after sun Aloe gel. It soothes, moisturizes, and takes away the itching..... wow I sound like a commercial!! :P
But really something that has aloe in it is best. You may have to reapply several times a day. It does help though.

Sometimes when something is healing it starts itching. That's just part of the healing process. I've noticed that happens when big cuts of mine start healing. I don't have more explanation more than that.


Try pure aloe vera gel and lanicaine. The skin is probably still healing from the sun burn. If it blisters you may have sun poisoning. I would also double check any medicines you might be taking to make sure none of them are photo reactive.

Best wishes,

J. N.

First off I am real sorry that you have a sun burn. I hate having a sun burn!! You might want to kick the lotion and go with a pure aloe jell. You can find them at Wal-Mart or Wal-Greens. Lotions tend to have alchol in them....for what reason I have no idea and really are just drying your skin out even more.
Another thing you can try is vinegar. Here is a website that you can look at.....


Take it easy, drink lots of water and next time try SPF 50

Hi S.. Not sure if this will work for you, but it was a life saver for me when I had the same thing happen while we were on a trip. Take Benedryl by mouth and use Benadryl topically - spray is what I used.
Good luck!

Itching is just a sign that your skin is healing. You burned it so the itching is actually a good thing I suppose.

Target (and other places) carry Little Doctor's brand baby products. They make a cooling spray that's really nice. Easy to put on your back yourself. I use it even when I'm not sunburned as it's really mild but still works.

Hope that helps you.


I have found that some lotions can dry out the skin more. I found a great product with 97% Aloe Vera in it and it works wonders after a burn. Even some of the Aloe Vera products are conterproductive, so I would only recomend the one with the high percentage listed on the bottle. I found mine at a health food store, but the super Dillons may carry the brand. Good Luck!

Your skin is probably still irritated from the sun. I would try putting on aloe vera gel. That always helps me with the itch and the burn. You can also take a bath with Aveeno oatmeal bath. If you don't want to buy that, you can use a home made version. Take oatmeal (not instant) put it in an old pair of nylons. Tie off the nylons, put them in the tub while you fill it and keep it in there while you soak. It works wonders for the itching.

You are itching because when the skin is sunburned, the the skin becomes dehydrated. Using lotion alone will not help rehydrate the skin. It is very important that if you get sunburned to use aloe gel (can buy at Wal-Mart) immediately after receiving the burn, as well as several times throughout the day until the skin is back to normal. Since you did not do that in the beginning, that's okay, just start now and by the end of the day, you should really start to feel a difference.

The itch is caused from the burn healing. If you want to take the itch out do what hospitals do. They use shaving cream, regular foam shaving cream. Spread it on and let it evaporate. It will leave a light film on the burn and take away the itch. Usually works in one or two days depending on the severity of the burn.

i'll echo the aloe vera idea. it really is just dry/dead skin, although you are moisturizing - i'm sure it'd be much worse if you weren't! hope it gets better soon!

There could be something in the lotion that you are sensitive to or allergic to. I am allergic to cocoa butter,(and chocolate) If I use a lotion that has cocoa butter in it I break out and itch terribly.

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