How to Stop Itching Sunburned Skin

If you spent a day at the beach without sunscreen, you may be paying for it with an itchy sunburn. The best ways to minimize your risk of sunburn and resultant skin damage are to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., avoid tanning or sunbathing, and always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. However, if your skin is already burned, you can alleviate the resultant pain and itching.

Skin damage from sun accumulates over a lifetime. Credit: toxawww/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Take two aspirin or acetaminophen tablets every four hours. According to University of Nebraska dermatologist Rodney Basler, an acceptable alternative is taking three to four tablets of ibuprofen every eight hours.

Step 2

Soak in a tepid bath with 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal or baking soda added.

Step 3

Make a cold compress by soaking a washcloth in ice water. If desired, moisturize skin after using the compress with lotion chilled in the refrigerator.

Step 4

Spray on an over-the-counter cortisone or local anesthetic spray. Anesthetics include benzocaine, lidocaine, benzyl alcohol and diphenhydramine hydrochloride.

Step 5

Use an unscented, moisturizing cleansing cream instead of soap to wash your body. Soap can dry your skin and exacerbate itching. Do not soak in bubble baths or soapy water until your sunburn is healed.

Things You'll Need

  • Aspirin

  • Ice water

  • Washcloth

  • Dry oatmeal or baking soda

  • Bathtub

  • Cortisone or local anesthetic spray

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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