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Serving the Central Ohio Area
Pickerington: 614-755-6370
Serving the Central Ohio Area
Pickerington: 614-755-6370
Upper Arlington: 614-583-1133

Treating Hell's Itch: What You Should Know

Woman Scratching Her Back
Mild itchiness is a normal consequence of sunburn. An intense, unrelenting itch is not. You might have a condition known as hell's itch if you're experiencing the latter scenario. Hell's itch is incredibly uncomfortable and named for its mercilessness.
Some people experience sleep disturbances and even find it hard to function while dealing with the condition. Read on to learn about some of the measures you can take to experience some relief. 

How to Treat Sunburn Itch at Home

You can gain some relief from your exhausting symptoms with these tips:
  • Limit your sun exposure. Stay out of the sun. Exposing your already damaged skin to more harsh UV rays makes the sunburn and your level of discomfort worse. Keep the affected area covered whenever you go outside. 
  • Take an oral antihistamine. Take an oral antihistamine to mask the itch. Antihistamines are commonly associated with allergy sufferers. However, these medications target all the cell receptors that prompt histamine-driven reactions in the body, including itching.
  • Take a lukewarm or oatmeal bath. Soak in a tub with lukewarm water and colloidal oatmeal. The water can have a calming effect. The colloidal oatmeal minimizes irritation and increases your skin's moisture retention. Try the bath before bed to help you rest better. 
  • Drink water. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. A sunburn naturally dries the skin. When the skin is dry, the level of itchiness increases. Drinking water hydrates your skin from the inside out. 
Visit a doctor for help if you have any preexisting health conditions that might be making your sunburn and itch worse. 

How to Prevent Hell's Itch

Preventing hell's itch begins with skin protection. The following are some protective measures you should take before you head outdoors:
  • Wear appropriate sunscreen. Invest in a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 if you'll be in the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun's UV rays are the most active during this period, and you're susceptible to a burn, even if you're in the shade.
  • Reapply your sunscreen. Pack your sunscreen if you'll be outside for an extended period. Reapply the sunscreen at least every two hours for continued protection. You may need to reapply the solution more frequently if you're swimming or sweating a lot. 
  • Know if you're at risk. Find out if you are at an increased risk for sunburn. People with autoimmune diseases like lupus or that take medications that increase light sensitivity are at a higher risk. You might also be at an increased risk if you don't generally spend much time in the sun. Speak with a doctor about your specific risk if you have concerns. 
  • Wear protective clothing. Forgo light colored, thin fabrics for darker shades made from thicker materials, such as thick cotton. The darker and thicker the fabric, the greater SPF protection offered. 
Spending time outdoors and sun protection must go hand-in-hand. You need to plan carefully to avoid a sunburn so that you can have a safe and enjoyable day. 

When to Seek Medical Treatment

Are you unable to get any relief from your symptoms? Has your itch been occurring for a long period of time? A visit to a health care provider might be necessary. What appears to be an ordinary case of sunburn could actually be sun poisoning. Sun poisoning is not an actual poisoning, but instead a severe form of sunburn. A burning sensation and itchiness are just the start in terms of symptoms.
Nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and intense pain may also accompany sun poisoning. Medical treatment is essential for this condition. A lack of treatment increases your risk for a dangerous infection that can spread to your bloodstream. The situation also elevates your risk of dehydration.
Visit a healthcare provider right away if you experience any concerning symptoms. 
If you or a family member have a concern about your sunburn or hell's itch, Access Urgent Medical Care is here to help. Visit one of our convenient locations for immediate attention.