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Dermatology/Severe sunburn itch


Scott R. wrote at 2007-05-30 01:10:32
I seem to be ignorant enough to get a bad itch from a sunburn every year.  You'd think I'd learn.  I've got one right now.  The best temporary remedy I have found was fill your bathtub with warm water and put as many teabags as possible in it (maybe about 10 would really work, but if you've had the itch you just might try 5,000.) and soak in the tub for 20 minutes or so.  This had worked for me once, when I had a garden tub, now I have normal sized tub and I weight almost 250, so I don't fit so well in it.  But it does help a litle.  The best really fix for it is some sort of over the counter sleep agent.  If your not comfortable with that, just distract yourself.  For example I have been typing this note for about 1-2 minutes and haven't itched, until now.  My cures might not be the best, but they are the most reasonable to me.

Itch Master wrote at 2007-06-12 08:15:04
Never tried the topical steroids. Sounds like a plan, but if you don't have any handy try getting in a hot shower, now this is only for an emergency because it will actually dry your skin even more, but I know the severity and urgency of the itch and you can apply Vaseline to the area while it is under water as it is somewhat water repellent and will moisturize the burn. Before you get in the shower grab a big glass of water to rehydrate and pop a fish oil or vitamin E supp. You need to do things to rehydrate the skin which takes time, but the itch isn't going to wait. I've talked to doctors who tell me just to apply creams and try to ignore the pain and I want to slap them. I'd like to transfer the pain over to them for 10 minutes and let them try to remain calm. I've also found if you can't get in a shower soaking a towel in hot water and draping it over the shoulders alleviates the pain dramatically. Also constantly applying creams (still haven't found one that works the best, I use a combo of aloe and cortisone) as soon as you can after a burn can sometimes stop the itch before it happens. Good luck!

Robert :L. wrote at 2007-06-28 19:10:08
Im having the same problem as you right now, I stumbled upon this on google looking for some solution to this problem, Since its driving me insane.

I woke up and was fine this morning, I just began to peel on my shoulders from a bit of Sun Poisoning. Definatley the worst sunburn Ive ever had. This is much worse than the burn though.

The only thing Ive found that works so far is getting in the shower. I just tried putting on calamine lotion but it has had no effect so far.

All I can advise you to do is try and take some kinda sleeping pill and sleep it off. Im wishing I could do the same, but alas, have no sleeping pills.

Best of luck.

Brent wrote at 2007-07-02 19:02:29
What works for me is to use a topical (1%) hydrocortizone cream. And not one that has an oil-base. I have very sensitive skin which sunburns quite easily. It takes a few minutes for the hydrocortizone to kick in, and you might need to reapply it every hour or so. Again, check with a doctor if the itching lasts for more than a few hours. (Too much hydrocortizone over a long period of time can lower your adrenal gland functioning.)

jasonhite wrote at 2007-07-06 12:40:27
I itch from the sunburn also, and what I find works best is taking benedryl allergy medicine (anti histimine).  The itching stops and it makes you drowzy so you can sleep.

jasonhite wrote at 2007-07-06 12:40:27
I itch from the sunburn also, and what I find works best is taking benedryl allergy medicine (anti histimine).  The itching stops and it makes you drowzy so you can sleep.

A F wrote at 2007-07-11 21:05:40
On my previous post or answer, I failed to mention that my skin would show no rash or bumps or anything other that just being a little red.  The best relief I've ever had was to lay as still as possible on a towel and when the irresistable urge to scratch came, I'd just move a little against that towel.  Once I started to really scratch.. it was all over.  I would almost go crazy trying to ease the tingling, itching sensation.  As a young teenager, I tried all the creams, lotions and even the vinegar but putting it on only made me itch worse.  So I finally just would try to lay still and be quiet for about 24 hours and it would go away.  All of the doctors I've ever seen about this just would say that I was allergic to the ultra violet rays of the sun and should avoid the sun or use sunscreen with I do now.  But this past weekend, I missed a spot and have been itching for a day now.  But it has been bearable.

Good luck,


L.M wrote at 2007-08-15 22:00:12
I just went through this last night.  I didnt think it would work.. but at the point I was at I was willing to try anything. Gold Bond Medicated Powder worked wonders. Almost instantly relieved the itching and the cool sensation helped with the burn.

Amber wrote at 2007-10-12 02:20:42
I had the unbearable itch for three whole days. I think I might have slept a total of two hours. I've never wanted more to kill myself than in those three days. Although what I used was neosporin with pain relief I would suggest the strongest sleep aid you can find and knock yourself out!

Nick wrote at 2008-05-11 12:18:49
You can apply any cream/lotion/powder, but nothing will stop the itching for more than a few minutes.  im rubbing my skin instead of scratching but i have to do this constantly its on the front of my  torso and the worst areas are under my nipples...  its been 3 days since the burn and the itching is driving me INSANE!1  last night i fell into a semi-concious state at about 2am, during this i was rubbing my skin and closing my eyes at the same time.  i woke from this trance at about 4am and lay there for another 2 hours i finally got real sleep at 6 am but my brother woke me up at 10am. 5 hours later, after a warmish shower, my skin is still itching.  after 3 nights i would have expected it to lessen by now... someone kill me please

bailedwiththehay wrote at 2008-05-29 02:07:27
omg this is the worst sunburn i have ever had. i have done a lot of research in the last few days. whatever you do, do not force peel your skin. i know it itches bad but let the skin fall off on its own. i have tried lotions and gels but they only work for a few minutes. minutes after applying one lotion(vasoline with aloe) i felt like i was sunburned all over again. i had to run to the shower and get it off. it sucked. the best results i found are drinking lots of water, just touching the itchy spots not scratching and 4 benedryl and hour or two before going to bed. just ride it out as drugged as possible.

Tex Girl wrote at 2008-06-17 17:12:10
I agree with the use of Benadryl and meds to tide you over until your skin has healed. I have suffered from this since I was a kid the itching is so bad no one understands. They just look at you like you're crazy...which you are going crazy because of the itching! I have tried to use aloe gels and anti-itch creams, etc but they make it 10 times worse for me. I immediately have to run to the shower to get it off. It's like a million fire ants stinging me at once. It's an awful feeling. I have found that getting in a cool shower helps. I usually take a Benadryl and a Vicodyn (or any pain killer on hand) before I get in the shower. The shower helps with immediate itching until the meds kick in. After about 20 minutes, you don't feel the itching as much and you're ready to get out of the shower and go to sleep. I'm telling you, I haven't found anything else that helps! You may also want to consider going to the doctor (I was tempted to go to the ER) and get a steroid med prescribed.

maat wrote at 2008-06-18 00:02:14
i'm on the same spot now. i read somewhere else that the itching is caused by the dying skin cells releasing 'hestimines' (?) and such, much like an allergic reaction. So you need to get yourself some antihestimines, or anti-allergy medication. I suspect that over the counter stuff is good. hopefully it will work. for whatever reason, applying lotion only makes it worse for me. i really do think that touching it will make it itch more.

Sarah wrote at 2008-06-18 14:27:40
I have found for instant relief for that unbelievable itch (not long term by any means) put an ice cube or ice pack on the itchy area.  The ice cold on the skin will instantly stop the itch.  My son had sever itching from sunburn and I laid him in bed with his back on top of 3 ice packs.  It saved him enough so he could fall asleep.

Barb wrote at 2008-07-31 05:26:25
I have found that crushed ice in a bag helps relieve the itch temporarily.  I was also advised to take Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) as it helps the swelling.  I took Benadryl earlier and the combo seemed to help, but now the itching started up again.  It's driving me crazy.  It's my fault though - I went to the pool the other day (I rarely ever go), and I was so white.  But wanting to get "a little color," I did not put on sunscreen - BIG mistake.  I will NEVER do that again.  I'm mad at myself.

Landon wrote at 2009-06-10 10:12:13
I got a really bad burn about 3 days ago and just today started itching. It is one of the worst things I have ever felt. The best thing I've found for an instant cure is ice. Lay on the ice or lay the ice on you. It numbs it. Another is Lanacane Cream and Sarna Lotion. I'm using both so I don't know which one's helping more. Also, Keep your shirt on! The tighter the shirt the better. Open air will cause more itch. Anything to knock you out is handy too

Cortney wrote at 2009-07-07 01:24:01
I got a really bad sunburn the other day being out at the lakes all day. My body was very pale before i went out all day too which didn't help.  I was doing okay with the pain and all, until earlier today i started itching like crazy. Well i learned from past experience that if you lay in a cold tub of water or an ice bath for 5-10 minutes it will stop the itching. Once a day and you'll do great! (:

Steli wrote at 2009-07-07 04:13:09
This is the second time I went through the sun poison-unbearable itching, after 8 years from the first one!!!! you would think you would learn your lesson.

Anyway PUT POISON IVY CALAMINE LOTION!!!! It's the only thing that works in 15 minutes! Nothing else does so fast and good.

I know what I am talking about. I feel sorry for all of you!!!

byrd wrote at 2009-07-16 09:25:42
I like to consider myself an expert sunburn itch-oligist. There is no cream or aloe that ever helped me.  It would help for a very short time, but then the itch comes back with a vengeance.  I"m not sure if I can say this, but the only thing that helps is good ole cannibus. If it was up to me, this would be one very good reason to achieve medical maurauna status.  Good luck to you all, I feel you pain as I sit here at 4:24 am wondering how I am going to put clothes on for work tomorrow, or in a few short 6 hours.  God help us all!!!

mself21 wrote at 2009-07-21 17:19:20
Dr Fisher, you did not answer the question. Obviously a dermatologist is who you want to see. The real question/concern here is the amount of time that is normal to still itch after being burned, which you did not address. After two and a half weeks it should be pretty obvious that there might be a need for treatment. If you are not a dermatologist, or an "expert" in such things as this web page suggests that you would be, then do not answer these questions. Or maybe ask a colleague to help you answer. Sorry for yelling. I was just very happy to see someone with a similar problem to my own which made reading the the worthless response that much more disappointing.

1 Itchy Mo Fo wrote at 2009-07-28 12:37:57
PHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK this is the most pain I've been in for a while.  To Help the itching don't move!Seriously  the skin is irritated movement stretches it causing irritation. Did I mention PHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

billinor wrote at 2009-09-28 20:55:32
This has happened to me twice in my life.  The itching was so bad that I almost snapped.  I tried to have my wife kknock me out with a 2 x 4.  I had to go to the ER both tmes and the doctors gave me a large benadryl shot.  Relief soon followed.

wandatheavenger wrote at 2009-11-15 01:17:55
I've had this happen a few times in the last couple of years. The first time it happened, I remember waking up in the middle of the night shaking so badly that all I could do was crawl on all fours to the bathroom and into the tub where I turned on the shower and did nothing but puke and cry for the next hour. When I do get it, I find that a multi-part approach works best. Benadryl and pain killers, obviously, in addition to alternating treatments of vinegar and tea right on the burn. Also, I've found that scratching only makes it worse. Rather, I just rub it when it's not too bad and slap the burn as hard as I can when it is. The pain I get from slapping it usually gives me a few seconds of relief, and I think anyone whose ever had this would agree that flat out pain is infinitely preferable to the itch.

Mark wrote at 2009-12-14 16:31:13
I feel for everyone who has gone through this, I just wanna share my ordeal.....

I have been in complete and utter agony for the last 8 hours, but i think it is finally subsiding. My front (chest, stomach arms, shoulders) and entire back were affected. I have taken an oral anti-histamine, a steroid cream, a pain-killer, bathed in milk and ice water and gone through 2 bottles of aloe vera gel. I would not wish this on my worst enemey, it is one of the worst sagas i have ever been through, completely unbearable.

At its onset i was shaking uncontrollably, i was actually brought to my knees, i rushed myself to the shower and could barely turn the tap on, my arms had become paralyzed with pain. i was screaming...god knows what the neighbours think.

the shower made it worse, i turned to pacing up and down my room, i lost count how many times, it was the only thing that gave me even a slight relief. I managed to drag myself to a pharmacy, thank god there is one within walking distance where i got some pills and a cream...worst thing was once home i realised that i would not be able to put the cream on my back, i had to wait 4 hours for my other half to get home and help me apply it there. after that we used up 2 big bottles of aloe vera gel as the pills did no good at this time i had not eaten for more than 12 hours I was starving, the only way for me to remain in one position long enough to eat was for her to continually rub my back with aloe as i spooned myself some food. If i didnt have her i dont know how i would have gotten through it because there is no way i could reach my back to apply the creams (not that they seemed to help very much)

I cant describe the feeling, its somewhere betewwn an itch and thousands of constant insect bites that never end.

at certain points i just wanted to knock myself out  because i couldn't bare the agony any longer, i'm not ashamed to say that, i was almost reduced to tears.

I will never go out in the sun for long periods of time without any block, ever, ever again.

sunburn itch, go to hell!  

doc fan wrote at 2010-04-06 00:25:10
Go to the doctors, and get a steroid shot. I was in mind numbing pain from the incessant itch. Seriously, I know how all of you feel. NOTHING helped. Ice baths, lotion, aloe, in fact aloe made it all the worse. The doctors gave me steroids and with in 5 minutes the itch was nearly gone. unbelievable. good luck guys, I know it seems like it will never go away, but it will I promise.  

Mark wrote at 2010-04-16 05:43:18
Like everyone else before me......this is the worst pain I have ever went through. I now know what it would be like to be buried in an ant hill. I got sunburned three days ago...the itching started the night of the second day. I thought I was gonna go crazy. I've gotta show this page to my wife so she won't think I WAS crazy, other people have dealt with it too! I tried aloe, aloe with lidocaine, lotions (HAD to wash it off immediately#, didn't try the vinegar. I found some relief with benadryl pills and cortizone 10 cream applied very generously. This combination will help for about five hours for me, but then it back, and I cant swallow and apply quick enough. Before that, I lived in the shower with cool water running.

I'm really disappointed to hear how long some of you have went through this. I'm NOT looking forward to that. I have been burned before, and on a couple occasions seriously, once landed me in the emergency room passing out from sun stroke #when I was young), but I NEVER had this happen to me, peeling or not! My burn right now is on the extreme side of moderate. I have no blisters or anything, just redness and heat from the redness. I am not peeling or starting to peel. I wish that was it cause then I know it would be over soon.

JD wrote at 2010-04-21 04:35:29
I find using benadryl (orally) and hydrocortisone topical cream reduces the itch substantially within 10 min. or so

neverendingitch wrote at 2010-05-26 21:40:57
I used cotizone cream maximum  strength. It did nothing if not make it worse. I wanted to die itching right now so bad a shotgun blow job sounds amazing. Ice cold is the only thing that makes it bare able. I tried every hairnet idea on this site and ice cold is the only thing to dull the itch. I have been itching for 12.5 hours hopefully after i sleep tonight the itch will have gone or this will be my epitaph.  

npiecora wrote at 2010-06-02 05:43:56
Im 16 years old, My friend always mess with me how white i am, i went to beach for 10 hours, no sunblock but tanning oil, man im soo messed up the itching would not go away! someone come kill me please! this is so bad, the only thing that worked for me is ice, my mom dont have benadryl so ima keep ice on my chest for 10 hours or so untill its sunset thanks :)

cooljul29 wrote at 2010-07-06 21:47:26
So, all I can say is "thank-you" to all of you.  I thought I was losing my mind, and I know my family did too until I read all of your responses.  I have had 3 children, one of which I was in labour with 40 hrs, and nothing compares to this itch!  It is unbearable, nothing is helping.  My dr. prescribed corisone cream, and it makes it worse.  The worst part is my skin doesn't even look that burnt, so no one understands my pain.  I seriously think this should be used as a form of torture for those who commit heinious crimes.  

Fellow Itcher wrote at 2010-07-07 16:11:00
Thank God, I thought I was going nuts, and so did my wife!!! I am 28 years old and I have been able to go into the sun no problem up until a few years ago when I was 24. I had my shirt off for most of the day in full sun and when I got home I noticed my skin was tight and felt sunburnt, nothing out of the ordinary, Right? Wrong, that night I had the most unbearable itch I had ever felt in my life, but only on my back. All I could do is pace back and forth and ramble on about how I just wanted to die! My wife almost called the asylum. She still thinks I am just overexagerating about the whole thing. I would have rather been shot then have to go through that again, so I stayed out of the sun for 3years because I was afraid of the "ITCHING DEMON", until last year when I went to Florida for vacation and thought maybe just maybe the first time was just a fluke. Boy was I wrong, the same thing happened and again only on my back. The only thing that would sooth my pain was a cold shower and pacing back and forth. I don't ever want my family to see me like that again.  

Gareth Coleman wrote at 2010-07-13 20:35:26
My best advice to handle the torment of sunburn itching is to firstly get control of your mind, remind yourself that pain subsides with time whilst the body naturally heals itself, don't turn the neurotic impulses inward on yourself or outward toward those close to you who are probably trying to help, and also follow the abundance of advice on hydration, moisturizing treatment and staying out of the sun whilst affected.

Remember that pain is perceived by the stimulation of nerve endings.  When the nerve endings are stimulated, sodium enters the cells, causing nerve spasm and subsequent initiation of action.  Simply put, the nerve endings in your skin think you're near fire so they transmit messages through your central nervous system to the brain engaging the trigger in your memory to move away from heat, hence some of the uncontrollable spasms you might suffer early in the itching symptoms.

Mild relief from such symptoms can be found in products which work to stop sodium entering the nerve endings such as Benzocaine.  You can find sprays at your local pharmacist but they are not a panacea for the symptoms so don't spend too much of your hard earned money on something that will subside if you can rationalize and handle the pain.  

Good luck

Eric wrote at 2010-07-15 13:10:23
I am in the most pain I've ever been in in my life. I'm sure I'm exaggerating, but it feels that way. I just returned from Montauk, NY and it was a mild annoyance for three days, and now it is living hell. Do NOT waste your money on bottles of aloe vera, it is the most useless thing ever. I have to call out of work tomorrow because I'm in that much pain. If I touch it once, I give myself a spasm. Just chill, watch your favorite TV show and try to get invested in it, drink lots of water and you'll be fine if your sunburn isn't huge. I'm going to try to get some Lidocaine later.

KarKar wrote at 2010-07-28 09:00:19
sooo here we are sunburn itch probably one of the most wretched things any of us have had the oppourtunity to experience, I'm going throught it now as we speak I can say that aftersun aloe didnt help in the slightest nor did takin what would probably be conidered a near fatal amount of ibuprofen. soooo I decided to try something else which was to say I'm getting drunk and its helping a ton the itch is still there but it isnt the unbearable itch that has to be scratched. I've heard vinegar works quite well but I can say with a fair amount of surety getting drunkish will def. help this problem your brain just cant comprehend whats going on trust me its not a solution I like but it beats rolling around in bed or pacing around the room for hours. I sincerely hope everyone recovers rapildy and that my remedy helps at least a few of you. oh! and I had a damn towel on the itchy areas as well (almost forgot in my inebriated state.)

Brian wrote at 2010-07-30 03:13:46
My wife thought I was crazy because nothing seemed to work for me either! the itching was unbearable! I'm really fair-skinned, and we were out in the sun 3 days ago at an amusement park, and i got fried. At first, it wasn't so bad, but the itching and soreness got worse. I tried lotion, aloe, vinegar, milk, bag balm, even prep-H from some posts I read that recommended it. Finally, I took my last of 12 showers for the day, and put baby powder all over the red areas. It still itches, but not as bad. Just want an instant cure as I sit here and consume 12 glasses of water to rehydrate!

bestremedysuicide wrote at 2010-07-30 06:44:16
getting drunk is a diarrhetic. it will only dry your skin out more making the itch worse in the morning. and might even prolong it.

i have a question. to any of you who have had this before, how long does this itch last? im going on to day 3, heavy peeling started but it still itches like crazy. every professional website says "it ranges from person to person," but what the F*** is the range 1 to 3 days? 1 to 3 weeks?? what??! what??!. just want a census of the average.  

Jeff wrote at 2011-03-01 03:55:52
Ok here is the answer.......time.

Being from the panhandle of Florida, sunburn is a constant hazard. I've experienced it quite a few times and the only way to describe it is HELL.

So here is my remedy......

1. Only cool showers, any heat on a burn is only going to make it worse

2. Aloe gel stored in the refrigerator. The cold helps and the aloe soothes.

3. Lots of water. It rehydrates the skin and lowers body temp.

4. Stay out of the sun. Any heat on the skin will slow the healing.

5. Time. Good news if you are itching, you are healing. Only a few more days to go

tunedis95 wrote at 2011-04-20 19:02:38
I had to Send this link to my girlfriend so she could see i'm not going crazy and or blowing it our of proportion. I was to the point where i had a towel in my mouth and just yelled as loud as i could because i was in so much creames or anything have helped. The best thing so far was taking a few gulps of nyquil to calm me down, i have aloe very all over my back and arms...drinking lots of water....and to sit infront of a box fan that i have....Fan is on high and has helped out tremendiously!!! I just tell myself to refuse to scratch anywhere... Thats the second biggest part!! Well this is day two and i'm just hanging out with the fan blowing at my back watching tv.....just wanna go to sleep now.

Lewiboi wrote at 2011-04-23 22:46:12
I have been suffering for maybe 6 or so hours now, i am a roofer by trade so i am usually pretty good round the sun, so 2 days ago i thought i would get the shirt off and have a go at the tan before my holiday in 6 weeks.

i maybe received a little to much sun but i always take my top off when its warm and never had any itching problems until this afternoon.

i was washing the lady's car (as you do) and it started to rain, quite heavy... well i dint wanna stop washing because i just paid the guy  to use his jet wash and stuff so i just got on with it. after getting soaked we drive home so i can get dry and get changed, and thats when it began... OH MY GOD this is ridiculous.

I have tried almost everything, first i went aftersun shopping- didnt work.

aloe vera/aftersun shopping- didnt work.

had a warm bath- no joy.

E45 cream- damn do not put that stuff on your back to calm the itch it multiplied by 1000 and i had to run and have another bath- which didnt work.

i tried the vineger trick- seemed like it made it worse.

then a vinegar/aloe aftersun mix on affected areas- nope.

i read that one guy went for a jog, worked up a decent sweat and it helped him out- didnt help me out.

i am tempted to drive and get some high power sleep pills because i don't drink alcohol but dont think i can get them at this time of the night.

Why have i read a number of times that our girls think were over exaggerating, mine's the same. i would love her to feel this for 30 secs, just 30secs...

basically the only thing that is slightly helping me right now is writing you guys this HUGE essay, its still itching but no where near as bad as it was a few mins ago.

i think the answer is to try and occupy your mind and ride the storm... oh and dont do it again...

if its the same tomorrow i am going to the hospital and getting one of the relief shots 100% there is 0% of me putting up with this all day tomorrow.   :)

David wrote at 2011-04-27 02:56:14
I've tried aloe, itch cream, benadryl, and nothing has worked. At one point, it was so bad that I started punching myself in the face to get my mind off of it. FML.

Alias wrote at 2011-06-01 17:04:02
I had the itch come on the other night. I fell asleep at 11pm then woke up at 12 with extreme itching. Showering only seemed to make it worse. So as a last result I took a couple bags of ice and laid on top of them. This provided pressure on the itch on my back which helped, it also numbed the back. After about 30mins of this I managed to fall asleep due to the numbing of the itch and woke up the next morning with very little itch left.  

Tednielsen wrote at 2011-06-06 08:32:24
Yes, I've had the itch for the last two days. This is one of the only timespans where I've been calm enough to sit down through it all. And I agree, "the itch" is intolerable and evil. It's the only thing that will bring me to considering jumping out of my 2nd story window, but then I worry that I'll have two broken legs and the itch will remain! I too tried everything...

aloe- good for the rehydration but not for the itch



Wal-Dry Itch relief

Cortizone cooling relief gel

curel lotion

oatmeal baths

tea baths

pouring milk on the affected areas

shaving cream

hot showers

cold showers


peppermint oil

and so on.

None of this crap brought any relief

What I've found through painstaking trials to be the most effective is to drink lots of water (keep chugging all day)- the itch is from dehydration, take a few benadryl or anti-anxiety drugs to calm the nerves that are so maniacally active, and apply Sarna- an anti-itch lotion. Have to put moisture into that skin!

Most, if not all, ointments, creams, and home remedies I put on my skin just worsened the itching. For immediate relief, a hot shower (as hot as you can take it) gave me a 20 minute reprieve from an episode that was close to me ending it all. Hot showers can damage nerve endings and will dehydrate further, but in a panic- a hot shower will save the day. Also, drug yourself up. Anti-anxiety pills can slow the nerves that are aggravating you. They may allow you to fall asleep for a while- a necessary ingredient for healing and also a good escape from the horrors of awakeness. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I really do, regrettably, share your troubles. I've felt some serious pain in my life, but I'd trade every one of those instances to be rid of "the sunburn itch."

racer10 wrote at 2011-06-09 18:13:05
i just got the itch this itch today around 12pm and wanted to die i read to take a hot shower so i did and couldn't take it any longer it didn't help at all so then i tried putting lotion on it and that didn't help so i took a benydril and am drinking lots of water and this seems to help because the itch is almost gone for now

but i have drank so much water that i have to pee so bad but i don't want to get up because im scared of the itch coming back.

itchbit*h2011 wrote at 2011-06-16 04:33:23
I honestly know what hell is me and my girlfriend almost broke up over how crazy I went over this hell itch the ONLY thing that works is benydrl allergy pills (2) every 4-6 hours I hope this helps and NO SHOWERS  

Gurt Frobe wrote at 2011-06-29 02:19:08
First off thanks to everyone for posting their stories here, its a huge help to try and prove to myself that I am not a wimp that cannot handle a wee sunburn.  I have had the "Demon Itch" four times now, over the past 6 years. Every year the first sunburn I get of the summer will set it off. At first I had no idea how to fix it, and spent a summer refusing to go outside, but now I've got it down to a science. On the evening of the second day after the burn just load up on the Benadryl. Nothing else helps me and it is always on the second day. Hopefully I'll have the common sense to use the sunscreen next time but if not I'll keep my sanity knowing I have a game plan to keep the hellish itch from driving me insane.

humbucker wrote at 2011-07-07 07:33:49
God help us all! People who have never had this problem simply cannot understand it.  I have had this problem aproximately ten times now (like everyone else keeps saying, you think I would learn my lesson). It started for me in my early twenties, and I had never had this problem before but I am told it runs in the family. I am very fair skinned, white to be exact, and burn quite easliy. First you get a sun burn, perhaps not even a terribly bad one, and a day or two later insane itching begins! Sorry, but I don't have a true solution, but from my experience - stay out of the shower! It may help for a few minutes, but it will make the symptoms much worse after you get out.  If you must shower, take as cold a shower as you can stand to keep from drying your skin out. If you must bathe, I recommend sitting in a tub of two inches of cool water and gently sponging yourself off. Soap can irritate the situation as well. In general, once I get a sunburn on my back or chest (it seems that these spots are the worst for the itching) I try to avoid getting wet, or even sweating, because it sets off the itching. I'm going through a round of it right now, so that explains the huge run-on paragraph. Take benadryl, antihystamines, and anti-inflamatory pain killers like tylenol or advil and try to ride it out.  It should only last a day or two - the longest days of your life. Try your best not to itch or scratch as it will only intensify the problem, I know, good luck with that. Also, try to stay out of public as the average citizen will likely mistake you for a whacked-out drug addict due to the involentary twitching and writhing of your body and crazy look on your face! Ride it out in a cool dark room and swear to yourself that you will not ever go out in the sun again, until next year...

itchmustdie wrote at 2011-07-09 07:40:26
Let me just tell you, i sympathize for each and everyone of you!

I've tried: Aloe Vera, Aloe Vera Moisturizer, Calamine lotion, other moisturizer, and Witch Hazel. None of those things worked.

So far the only thing that has worked for me is taking a COLD shower. Lots of people are saying to take a hot shower... i don't think i would do that but hey if it works for you i guess that's alright. The only thing with the shower however is that it works great while you're in the shower but once your out it makes it worse to the point where you have a hard time getting your clothes back on!

The thing that has been the most effective is to place ice cubes against the itchy area. For me the itch is on my back so what i'm doing as i type this is laying on a bag of ice cubes.

I don't know if i have benadryl but will definitely pick some up tomorrow. Hopefully the itch is gone though by then. Either way though im still picking some up for future moments such as this.

Now if only i could get to sleep as i have to work at 8am tomorrow morning. Going to go off to raid the medicine cabinet and freezer now.  

hankbuck wrote at 2011-08-08 15:16:59
Wednesday I got sunburn, really bad all over my back, no blistering or

pealing. Was putting aloe gels on a couple times a day, and all was well.

Until 3 days latter.  I woke up took a shower, and then the Killer Itch From

Hell started.This experience is as indicated in these other blogs, but none

can explain how bad it really is. I would have done anything to end it, close

to losing my mind, if not for my family there with me, I was ready to jump

out a window.

Getting it wet, hot or cold temporarily stops it, and extreme heat stops it

better, but once you get out of the water and start drying off it comes back

worse then ever.

Here are some of the other remedies I tried all of which none had little

effect on stopping it enough to resume sanity:

Solarceine, burn relief aloe gel

Sarna, Camphor & Menthnol

Ocean Potion Burn relief Lidocaine . 5%

Aveeno Oatmeal bath treatment

Pan-a-Trate Camphor 3.25%, Menthol 1.5%

wet towels

water bottles, ice packs

heating pad

vinegar dipping in paper bag strips.

baby powder

After about 3-4 hours of trying to dealing with this I went to the ER, and

was treated for about 1 1/2 before they could get it under a manageable

control. I received Benadryl via IV, and two shots in the a.s of a sedative

to knock me out. When they sent me home I was a 60% better, but still off the

wall,  After I fought my wife for the pill jar and took enough to knock me

out did I fine relief. I sleep for about 6-7 hours , took more Benadryl,

ibuprofen, and Lorazepam (1mg prescribed I took 2), and back to sleep.  The

next day under more pain management I was drowsy but functional. So the

extent of the Hell Itch under management was about one day.

My advice, take this action as soon as possible:

1. Try to stay as calm as possible.

2. Deep breathing.

3. Keep a shirt on your back, have someone lightly rub all over the area.

4. Benadryl, for me at 200lbs. 100mg (4 of the .25 tabs)

5. Ibuprofen, 800mg

6. Something to relax you or deaden the nerve endings, for me the Lorazepam


7. The ER also provide me with a prednisone, for severe allergies, skin


8.  After it was under some what of a controllable state, the Sama, Camphor,

Menthol lotion worked sooth the itching.


Lorazepam,  1mg is used to relieve anxiety. Lorazepam is in a class of

medications called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing activity in the brain

to allow for relaxation.

Prednisone, 20mg a corticosteroid used to treat severe allergies, & skin


jhopkins wrote at 2011-08-15 16:37:22
I am SO glad I found this website. I went to the beach the other day and did not put on sunblock, tho I did for the kids. Now why I figured I didn't need it, I have no idea. Needless to say, many hours later, I was burnt. NOW I have that UNBEARABLE itch. I put on calamine, aloe vera, soothacaine, nothing was working. I had to slap the itch with a towel to try and get some relief. I did find some antihistamine and ibuprofen, hopefully that will do SOMETHING!!

seth wrote at 2012-03-20 21:39:24
i took an anti-histamine and my mom has this bare minerals moisturising spray that helps instantly. if i could just sleep i can get over it. the shower helps but its also the cause i wasnt itching before the shower. so any anti-histamine oral or steroid shot will take care of it and sleep

alex wrote at 2012-03-28 03:08:53
I thought i was the only crazy person that had these symptoms here's the one and only cure that im sure you've found out by now ICE PACKS i kept 2 on my back and 2 in the freezer (for as soon as the ones on my back melted) im telling you it works i made the mistake of thinking i could hang out for a while without them and went to my girls house sure enough the itch came back and now her dad thinks i do drugs but yea ice packs work keep em on there 24/7 if u could oh and milk idk if it was i mind trick but i felt like milk helped me didn't cure it just helped..i feel bad for those of you that are dealing this I now avoid the sun like its the plague but wouldn't wish the pain on my worst enemy IT SUCKS x100000000  

MikeL wrote at 2012-03-30 14:36:28
Ive had my sunburn since tuesday and it started to itch a fury the next day, but it only got worse, the 3rd day thursday which sadly im trying type this while sitting still, i pretty much paced the house all day and am about to put my head through a wall, because nothing seems to make me feel better, aloe doesnt do anything, showers make it worse, i wish it would all end

Itch McGee wrote at 2012-04-14 07:48:00
I've been getting the itch since I was 12, once every other summer so I know how you all feel... usually the first good burn of the year. I've read on other forums that Gold Bond works every time... I haven't ever tried this because I haven't had "the itch" since I read that... and I'm definitely not going out and inducing "the itch" just to try it. everyone try the Gold Bond though because I've never read anywhere in any of these forums that Gold Bond does NOT work... has to be worth a shot, right?

Hell Itch Expert wrote at 2012-04-24 08:22:22
This itch is the most insane thing I have ever gone through. I have heard women liken it to the pain of child birth. I have gone through this 4-5 times since I was about 8 years old, and should know better.

It's April, and I decided to get a little sun while washing my car. I figured it only 80 out and not even summer yet. I only had my shirt off for a good 45 minutes.

Hours later I had realized while sitting up against my bed, that my back was burnt. I took my shirt off while in the bathroom, and sure enough, bright red....

52 hours later, the hell itch struck. It brought my to my knees. I was itching uncontrollably all over my back, screaming and crying hysterically. Over the years I have found 1 thing works.

Aloe Vera doesn't work. Calamine lotion, gold bond, showers, lidocaine, hydrocortisone, and everything else all make it worse!

The only thing that makes it better are anti-histamine drugs. Benadryl, or doctor prescribed Hydroxyzine. It had subsided the itch enough where I have regained my sanity. I recommend taking more then the doctor recommended dosage.

itchymitchy wrote at 2012-05-20 13:42:19
This is obviously the worst thing ever and I went toa RHCP consert for 3hours with it (thought I was gonna take out everyone there) iveefound taking your shirt off and gently sliding it across your back back aand forth like one of those fat shackers to be the best immediate relief while waiting for your mmeds to kick in though I have thought of jumping off the 12th floor patio a few times...

SUNBURN ITCH SUCKS wrote at 2012-05-24 01:05:56
I planted the rest of my garden the end of may on a sunny day and took my shirt off OH BOY that was a mistake i got burned in 1.5 hours two days went by and the itch started it drove me crazy i never had that happen before i stood in the shower for 30 min. cold water running that didn't help i tryed many lotions the only one that work ALITTLE was CALADRYL CLEAR it itched so bad i wanted to take a toilet brush and scratch my back but that would be gross i feel sorry for all you who experiance this itch IT SUCKS

Bobbi Jo wrote at 2012-06-03 08:35:43
Omgosh! I took my daughter to the water park Thursday and I woke up today(Saturday) very sore. I couldn't hardly move or bend because it hurt so bad. Well I had to go to work from 2-11PM. I was about to die from aching all over in the areas I am burnt. I  am burnt on my chest, arms, face, and back. My husband bought some aloe Vera tonight and it helped for about 10 minutes and then the Demon Itch began. I can't sleep! It is now 4:30 AM and I'm worn out from work and Lord know I didn't sleep any last night because of hurting. I read every reply and I have tried all of these except lotions or a trip to the ER. I just want to sleep but this itch ugh! I need some legit answers like for real. My husband also got burnt on his shoulders and said he was feeling some pressure but he's sound asleep I guess his isn't as bad as mine but still.  

kill me wrote at 2012-06-12 15:17:04
OH MY GOD....the itch is HORRIBLE!!!  I was out cleaning the boat on Sunday and didn't want to put any suntan lotion hopes to get a good tan base going.  Well Monday was pain, I could deal with that, then Tuesday morning after taking a shower, the itching starts.  I put Lanacane on...kindof eased the itching for a couple min...then the itching intensifies, becoming unbearable.  I am at work and all i can think about is this damn itching, so I find this site and I realize that I am not crazy and this happens to others.  I have been to the store 3 times this morning...finally getting some benadryl that everyone seems to be recommending.  It has been a long 30min, still itching but seems to being getting better, that also might be because i am not moving 1 inch and thats helping.  I have never wanted to punch a wall or yell and cuss more than i do today...itching is torcher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If this doesn't stop maybe i should go to the hospital and get a shot, like others are's one of the worst things I have experienced!!!

rob wrote at 2012-06-16 22:54:00
I would rather get repeatedly breast slapped by Hilary Clinton for ten strait hours than go through this itching torture from this sunburn. I seriously think that violent criminals should be subject to this type of torture as a punishment for their crimes.

I woke up last night at 3:30AM to ten million red ants walking inside of my skin on my back and shoulders where i was sunburned. I was unable to fall asleep for two hours because the itching was so intense.

I finally fell asleep after doing the following things (in this order):

1) I drank almost half a gallon of water in 2 hours

2) I took a pain killer (Aleve), If i had Benedryl i would have taken that too

3) I took a long shower and thoroughly washed myself using a ton Dove Deep Moisturizing body wash

4) I COVERED my back and shoulders like a mummy with Gold Bond body powder

5)I put on a TIGHT fitting shirt (DO NOT keep your shirt off, it will itch a lot more)

I had originally tried putting on that cheap green aloe vera "burn relief" gel and that only made the itching worse.

The Good News is that the "peak" itch is over with, i think that part only lasts a few hours, it just sucks when it hits in the middle of the night.  

Joe wrote at 2012-06-19 06:25:52
Wow, guess there are some things that they just don't teach you about in medical school. I am a physician and this "itch" is unreal! I was burnt 2 days ago and today began having the severe itching/ pain early afternoon The interesting thing is that the burn isn't nearly as bad as I've been burnt in the past.

When it started I tried the typical aloe, and a moisturizing lotion that didn't seem to help at all. In desperation, I jumped in the shower and had almost immediate  relief. Awesome --- Unfortunately as stated by others, upon getting out I had almost instant return of symptoms. With an hour or so of rest, and some lotion, and lots of hydration the symptoms improved so I went along with my day thinking it was a very strange variant of the typical sunburn.  But then, several hours later it came back again, - worse - worse than I could possibly imagine from a simple sunburn.. That was it, doctor mode kicked in and I took some benadryl, prednisone, and ultimately some vicodin to help with the symptoms. I drank lots of water, and spoke with an ER doc buddy hoping for some trick to treat this unbeknownst to me. He recommended some clobetasol propionate spray (topical steroid - unfortunately - the only pharmacy that stocked this didn't accept our insurance and it was over $600- so we elected not to fill it). My wife is absolutely awesome, and although probably thinks I have lost my mind,  went out to the store in the middle of the night and got me every anti itch remedy that one could imagine...... Gold Bond, Cortisone 10, Lanacane, topical benadryl,  oral and topical vit E, -  

The hydration, benadryl, vicodin, and remaining still seem to be holding for now - I"ll update the post if I have to use any of the other supposed remedies, but this has certainly been by far the most painful/irritating ordeal that I have ever experienced.  

A redhead wrote at 2012-06-23 20:44:39
I just went through what almost all of you have described!! I am young (almost 14). I had had my sunburn for about three days and it was fine (at the time it hurt badly, but nothing compared to what was next).  I woke up and was fine, then I went to my room to change, that's where I startedtkfeel as is someone was jabbing me with needles in my back, shoulders, face, thighs, nech, and chest. I tried any creams, none of which worked. The pain was unbearable. The eurcin only made it worse so I did some research and decided to take a cold bath with aveeno oatmeal, VERY little relief. So Iliad there delirious and screaming for someone to kill me for three hours, that's when the itching kicked in, I knew better to scratch it and that's when I was serious about killing myself, no one else was home but my dog, she was the only thing that kept me from overdosing. I found and took a benedryl, then my mom came home. She gave me hydrocortisone cream to put on, that magnified the pain by at least 300 times. Then she gave me SARNA it made it worse for about two minutes then it cooled and the itching basically stopped, but every so often a needle would stab me. Currently I am in the itching/peeling stage and SARNA and benedryl are still providing me with relief.  

A redhead wrote at 2012-06-23 20:44:41
I just went through what almost all of you have described!! I am young (almost 14). I had had my sunburn for about three days and it was fine (at the time it hurt badly, but nothing compared to what was next).  I woke up and was fine, then I went to my room to change, that's where I startedtkfeel as is someone was jabbing me with needles in my back, shoulders, face, thighs, nech, and chest. I tried any creams, none of which worked. The pain was unbearable. The eurcin only made it worse so I did some research and decided to take a cold bath with aveeno oatmeal, VERY little relief. So Iliad there delirious and screaming for someone to kill me for three hours, that's when the itching kicked in, I knew better to scratch it and that's when I was serious about killing myself, no one else was home but my dog, she was the only thing that kept me from overdosing. I found and took a benedryl, then my mom came home. She gave me hydrocortisone cream to put on, that magnified the pain by at least 300 times. Then she gave me SARNA it made it worse for about two minutes then it cooled and the itching basically stopped, but every so often a needle would stab me. Currently I am in the itching/peeling stage and SARNA and benedryl are still providing me with relief.  

Nate88 wrote at 2012-06-24 10:33:00
I am so relieved to have finally found this site. It's good to know that I am not the only one that has felt extreme pain and itching from sunburn. I was in the sun the other day for a few hours (with my very white skin of course) and later in the afternoon I noticed I was BURNT! My entire back, shoulders, arms, and chest are completely burnt. That happened 2 days ago. The first night was bad, but bearable and I was able to sleep. But last night was the worst. I was up all night because of the pain and itching. I applied vinegar (which made it worse for me), solarcaine with lidocaine, lotion, and aloe. None of it seems to be doing much for me. As of now, I'm laying in bed with my pillow propped upwards and leaning against that. That is the only thing I've found to stop the itch and I can somewhat relax. The sooner this is over with, the better. I feel your pain everyone

Kate wrote at 2012-06-26 18:05:01
The itch is definitely unbearable!! If you do at home remedies then make sure you are consistent with them and do them regularly and not just expect it to work the first time! Lol cause I did and it didn't work lol. I have found that over the counter allergy relief liquids or pills work wonders mixed with ibuprofen. Calamine lotion, vinegar, tea baths (using at least 10 tea bags) goats milk lotion or soap and not staying in the bath tub for more then 10 to 15 minutes. If you don't want to peel then definitely keep moister in your skin, just cause your itching doesn't mean you will peel. I run my fingers over the itch instead of scratching it.....when I was full on scratching it the itching only got worse. Keeping yourself busy and your mind off the itch is important!

Now to continue doing this until the itch is gone!!! It definitely gets better and then worse and goes back and forth for a little bit!


Ky wrote at 2012-07-07 20:04:14
I remember the first time this happened to me VIVIDLY. I can tell you what I was wearing, what color my comforter was, what time it was on the clock….and it was over 15 years ago. To friends and family of sufferers, yes, it IS that bad. If you're going through this HELL for the first time, here's my 2 cents:

1-There is relatively new research that states the itch is caused by an allergic reaction to the sun. Considering the IFH (itch from hell) commences almost exactly 48 hours after getting burned and anti-hist. work for most, this makes sense.

2- DO NOT USE ANYTHING with "fragrance" or dye-- don't believe me? Try it and see.

3- the old "stand-bys" don't work. I have tried them ALL. Baking soda,vinegar,tea,aloe,calamine,sarna,dancing with one shoe off under a full moon while meowing, etc. 9 times out of 10 it actually makes the itching WORSE. Yep, WORSE.

4- if you're in danger of harming yourself or others, GET IN THE SHOWER. And for Pete's sake, NOT a HOT shower! Be prepared to have the itching return, but at least you'll have a few moments of sanity or time until your hero returns from the store.

5-DO NOT SCRATCH. Anyone that has ever gotten a tattoo will tell you that if you're healing but itchy, smack it! If you just HAVE to do something, smack it instead of scratch it.

6- drink lots of water. take vitamin c. Duh.

7-Here are the ONLY 2 topical treatments that work for me.  Ready?

The first is peppermint oil. Yes, it's been listed. Maybe I'm just lucky, maybe mine is more pure, more fresh, I don't know. I also use a big ole glob of Aquafor as a carrier for the oil and as a moisture lock on my skin. Also helps keep fabric stuck on skin which, as noted above, DOES seem to help.

The other thing I use that works AWESOMELY for me is Vicks. Vapo-Rub. Not the cream but the thick ointment. Again- moisture lock and shirt-sticker-onner.

8- my last and possibly best piece of advice is for those with an itchy back and are suffering all alone. GO TO THE KITCHEN AND GRAB A BOWL SCRAPER!!!! GOOP THE REMEDY OF YOUR CHOOSING ON THE FLAT (DUH) PART AND SLATHER UP!  

Gigi wrote at 2012-07-09 19:36:27
I was burned 3 days ago and my itch started this morning. I have NEVER had any itch associated with my sunburns. Also, I normally get a tan not a burn, but this time was different.

My skin is hot, swollen, deep red, feels like a giant bruise. it also itches like I have rolled into a bunch of cacti and the needles are imbedded into my back.  This pain and itching has been nonstop for 8 hours. It hasn't stopped but has gone in waves of bad to very bad to "Holy Crap I think I am going to destroy everything around me". I locked myself in my room and told my kids that I was not feeling well and to not bother me.

I took an oatmeal bath, cold shower, applied vinegar, used aloe vera lotion with lidocaine#Which helps with the pain for a little bit then itches like hell#, Aspirin, and finally I have succumb to lightly brushing my back and chest with a soft t-shirt to relieve the itch. I took benadryl and that didn't stop the itching but it did decrease the severity of the itch for a short amount of time. Still my skin is red and feels raw.

Two hours ago I gave up, was in tears and drove the the Emergency Room. I stank up the room  with my vinegar scent and I look completely disheveled. EVERYONE looked at me like I was homeless. After waiting for an hour, I explained what happened and was hoping for the Cortisone shot. Well, my Dr. said that it only helps for a few hours and then the itching will return with a madness.

Instead she told me take Atarax #3x day#,

take motrin #3x day#, and

chug 1/2 glass of water every 30 minutes.

She said the benedryl will help a little bit but it works more for allergy reactions and that Atarax works better and actually STOPS the itching for 6 hour intervals. I found that the Aspirin does help but she suggested that I kick it up a notch with the Motrin.

She also gave me Sarna which has camophor and menthol in it to topically soothe the skin. The thought of anything else being applied to my skin makes me cringe at this point.

After 30 minutes of following her instructions I feel relief and a calmness that is so deep that if I close my eyes I will begin to sleep into hibernation mode. I should write that I have No itching. Not even 1 or 2 baby itch spasms- NOTHING.

SOoooo, Do not deal with the itch any more. Swallow your pride and go to the ER and get some Atarax.  

Michael wrote at 2012-07-23 03:59:00
I have gotten this uncontrollable feeling of ( electric pulses, spasms, ants, or sharp jabs of an ice pick) in my burn areas many times since I was a kid. It's always the first burn on white skin. I've been thrashing in the ER, and even cursed at doctors in my insanity. It usually comes starts a couple of days after the burn for me and peaks about 72 hrs after. The only thing that helps for me is to get doped up on Benedryl. I exceed the max dosage. When it gets unbearable I get into a warm bath and sit there until I fall asleep. Then I get out and hopefully sleep more. Then I will wake up and try to remain calm until it starts up again and repeat this. It puts me out of commission for at least a couple days. Until I found this site I thought it was only me. I just got burned pretty good yesterday so I am patiently awaiting hell. Wish me Luck.  

the man stan wrote at 2012-07-24 05:57:43

fencingdude101 wrote at 2012-07-27 04:25:11
Oh god, this is unbearable... I think reading all the comments on this site were the only thing that kept me alive. Same symptoms as above, I went out to a water park for the day without a shirt or sunscreen (BAD MISTAKE), and now two days later after the sunburn, the itch from hell on my arms. It came right after taking a shower with a new bar of soap. Nothing can describe how bad this feeling is I've been shivering from this for the past few hours. It hit me a few hours before I usually go to bed, so I'm getting pretty tired now.

I tried a few creams around the house, which made everything MUCH MUCH worse, and ice didn't help for too long. I didn't want to take any showers or anything, but I had to use a bunch of water from the sink to get the lotion off. My parents are not strong advocates of the suggested drugs to take such a benedryl or nyquil, so I took 5 pills of ibuprofen. That, along with putting on a shirt, has helped out a ton. I am now sitting here listening to music to keep my mind occupied with only a few short outbursts here and there, hopefully I got lucky and this is all I had to deal with.  I got burnt on my back, chest and shoulders and they don't itch, so I also hope they don't start to later on. I got burnt a few times before, but never got the itch for some reason (May have been caused by the shower). From now on, sunscreen, always. Well, good luck to you all who have to deal with this, you'll need it.  

the flash wrote at 2012-07-27 15:13:27
Last night, I just got a bad sunburn itch! It's like thousands of needles probing in my back! I got sunburn 3 days ago. I have tried nearly everything, from aloe to home remedies. They won't work. I found only thing work! I know this might look weird, but it work for me. shaving cream/gel works for me. It hydrate my skin and allow me to sleep! Thank god for shaving gel!  

imgoingtodie wrote at 2012-08-01 10:22:31
Not only do i have a raging sunburn on my entire back, but with it follows a massive rash all over my body. Oh and i wore sunscreen to the beach and a tank top the entire me universe...why the $%^&* does it feel like thousands of needles are stabbing me with inanimate joy? Tried the oatmeal bath, only temporary relief, tried aloe,severe dry itch lotion,ibuprofen,lotion ( non perfume ), nothing works. BUT benadryl has seemed to work to a certain extent. Its 3 o'clock in the morning and I get up at seven to get to school, then immediately after nannying for a family, then the Giants game! Lets hope I don't kill anyone out of pure madness.  

snake peel wrote at 2012-08-03 13:08:29
You'd think the newer answers to this question would be at the top, not the bottom of this page. anyways. i got a severe sunburn 6 days ago all over my body and suffered through very little sleep and a lot of pain. and today, 6 days later my back is shedding like a rattle snake. and it itches so intensely i find myself pacing and moaning in agony. took an hour long shower WITH COOL WATER, and rubbed as much dead skin off as possible while using a razor to take off any hair that might be contributing to the itch(this actually helped.) Got out of the show with very little relief. thank god for moms. she slapped on some calamine lotion, and i took an allergy pill (Reacting 12 hour relief). it continued to itch for about 15 more minutes before it started to ease. now, 45 minutes later, the itch has subsided quite a bit. not totally gone though.

apply aloe gel as soon as you know you have a sunburn and do it a few times daily to prevent peeling and itching. i did this for all parts of my body that were burnt except for my my back is the only thing itching.

when you get the itch:

calamine lotion

allergy pill

drink lots of water

use a fan to blow air on the itch to cool it.

distract yourself. writing this answer up helped :)

take the allergy pill every few hours to prevent the itch from coming back with a vengeance.

this helped a lot.  

ouch wrote at 2012-08-03 13:28:13
knowing is half the battle. here's some interesting info i found

Sunburn Itch

Before knowing about home remedies, it is important to know root cause and the working of the itch. The outer layer of the skin i.e. epidermis, is mostly composed of keratinocytes and Langerhans cells. Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause injury to the skin cells such as keratinocytes, langerhans, melanocytes, fibroblasts, skin mast cells and leukocytes. The destruction of skin cells releases certain proteins in the blood which triggers the mast cells to release pro-inflammatory histamine and cytokines. Histamine is a neurotransmitter and its presence in the blood is a sign that something is not right with the body. In such a situation, bodies immune system thinking that it is a case of infection, gears itself against the foreign bodies which, in this case are the proteins. In addition, more than normal levels of histamine in the blood causes you to suffer from the chronic inflammation and itch for a long time.

The presence of histamine in the blood, stimulates secretion of prostaglandin E, a neurotransmitter. Both, the histamine and the prostaglandin E, acts as vasodilators and escalates ultraviolet erythema, which is abnormal redness of the skin. This may explain sunburn itch and why you need to wait for a long time to get complete relief.  

mickeygirl98 wrote at 2012-08-04 07:35:23
OH MY GOODNESS. I have never been soo itchy in my life. I think I want to have chicken pox again instead of this.

On July 14 I was severely burned when I took my first vacation in years to Florida visiting my grandmother. Well, while I was putting on some sunblock she gave me I let her put some on my back and shoulders. Well, she said she mixed a bunch of small bottles of sunblock into a large bottle to take to the beach. I believed her.... little did I know (or think) she mixed body lotion in the large bottle and applied a large amount of this lotion on my back.

While on the beach I started to feel burny. I left and went to the condo. OH BOY, the next day I was oh soo burnt. I decided for the rest of the vacation that I should be 100% covered until this super sunburn heals. After days of agony and trying to get rid of the pain it started to heal a day before I left. Thank God it did because I am a large breasted woman and I kinda need to wear a bra in public instead of the ladies flopping around.

I got back home and my skin felt like burnt toast as it peeled like crazy. Little to my knowledge I am not done with the ordeal. It is now August 4th and I am having the worst itch of my life on my back where I got sunburned.

I have tried everything:

1. Drinking Water

2. Hot Shower

3. Cold Shower

4. Bathe in Milk

5. Witch Hazel

6. Hydrocortisone Cream

7. Yelling at it

8. Itching it

9. Ice

10. Pure Peppermint Oil

11. Advil

12. Benedryl

13. Allegra

14. Tea Tree Oil

15. Eucalyptus Oil

16. Olive Oil mixed with Peppermint Oil

I am thinking that because I need to wear a bra out in public (thats when I am itchy the most) I am irritating the skin and it is itchy. So far most of these give only a temp relief from my itch.

I wake up at night and itch. I just want to take a cheese grater to my back and get it over with. I want to itch it (oh man it feels soo good when it gets scratched), but when I stop scratching the itch comes back with a vengeance.

Is there anything I haven't tried to get rid or help this itch long term? How long will this last? I guess I will have to wait and see.

laaaurennnzz wrote at 2012-08-06 00:12:08
My itching came on very suddenly as I was cleaning house, I dropped what I was doing and jumped in the shower. Like previous post said, it only helped while I was actually in the shower. When I got out I tried aloe, which didn't help at all.

Then I put on  lots of Cetaphil brand lotion, which did help quite a bit, at least it made it bearable. After I was able to think for a few I took some Motrin, some Zantac and put on some steroid cream (which I'm prescribed for my eczema, which has a very similar feeling), and the itching went away completely!

Alex wrote at 2012-08-07 06:20:25
It is 2am and I am suffering the worst torture of my life since that horrific ankle injury I had in 2001. How in god's name can there not be a 24-hour pharmacy near me? I live in Manhattan! It seems the only drugs one could acquire at this hour are the illicit kind. I've torn my place apart looking for a Benadryl and now I'm sitting in bed with a glass of tequila, having a stare-down with this tube of generic cortisone cream, trying to decide whether or not it's a good idea. I took a bath in black tea earlier, I'd had good luck with that before. It took away the burn, but now I'd give anything to have the burn back in exchange for this awful itch.

I want my mom. And Codeine.

Keith H. wrote at 2012-08-07 16:47:30
So last night I had experienced this same itching problem as all of you had described and yes, there was a point where I took a cold bath and wanted to drown myself to stop itching.

I was out in the sun August 4th at the beach, and spent only 30 mins in the death rays of the sun, along with my girl (who is NOT itchy like me). Both of us got burnt pretty bad and suffered through the burn the past few days. Constantly applying aloe to each other to relieve the pain.  But last night something was WAYYYYY different...

I lay down in the bed and felt a slight tingle in my back, so of course, I scratched it. Then another, i again scratched it. Then it felt like a brush fire spreading across my back and I began to go mental. My girl began to laugh hysterically at me, thinking there was nothing to it, boy, was she wrong. I scratched and scratched using everything from dry towels, to car seats to (believe it or not) vinyl siding on the house. Nothing would lessen the itch, so as many of you did at first, got as many creams or anti-itch relief products in the house as we could gather and began to apply them. The time from the point of application to the return of the itch was only minuscule, and every time began to spasm and freak out as if I was possessed by a demon (an itchy demon).

Along this itchy journey we tried:

Lidocane After-Sun: fail

Calomine Lotion: super pink messy fail

anti-itch lotion: false advertising fail

100% aloe vera: immediate relief....followed by more fail

ibuprophen: not sure if it worked or not

cold washcloths: seemed promising at first, fail followed shortly after

warm shower: thought it worked....until I got out = fail

scrathed with dry towels: DO NOT TRY

cool baking soda bath: lessened the itch slightly, this is the point where I wanted to drown myself

Benadryl Night time: Caused me to be drowsy, which slowed my reaction to the itch as well as my ability to scratch it.

laying on dry towels: actually helped for a bit, until the brush fire re-ignited itself

ice packs: bad idea

cold shower (gradually turning down colder): did this and it was instant relief, kept turning down the temp until it was all the way on cold, didnt realize my back had become numb and the itch went away for a good while.

After this, I lay on my stomach while my girl lay a dry towel on me and just simply and gently rubbed my back til I fell asleep. I got a good solid 4.5 hours of sleep before I got up and called work to say I wasnt gonna be in today. As of right now, there is still some slight itch to it but after drinking a gallon of water its not too bad. My girl just put some more anti-itch lotion on me and its helping (only now) and as well I couldnt tell the itching was there as I was typing this up, so its good to keep yer mind occupied during this itch from hell.

Also I have a bad fear of needles, so getting a shot would not have been the greatest idea, but with this itch you do not know what fear is anymore.  

Drewforty wrote at 2012-08-09 02:36:54

Seriously, 2 advil, 1 zyrtec, 3 good shots of whiskey and a strong beer and I'm starting to scratch a little less violently. Will have the gf make sure I maintain pulse tonight and hope I'm done with this tomorrow.

PS: 27 years old now and never had this problem before even with bad burns. The difference I think is hydration. I worked 12 hours today with only a soda and a coffee and wham, now I want to die.

Ryan wrote at 2012-08-09 19:08:54
i was swimming at my grandparents, and i layed on a raft chest upwards, little to my surprise i burned. 1 day of pain in the burn later, i began to itch. and as many i freaked out. i layered aloe, which only made it worse, then calomine, then hydrocortisone, then 1 benadryl tablet to sleep, and i woke up 7 hours later with slight itch but managable. hope my concoction of lotions and benadryl helps

Vivo wrote at 2012-08-13 12:58:55
Oh thank god I've found this site! I'm on day 3 of the itch.... Day one was bad... Really bad... Nothing worked but pain killers helped manage the pain and staying completely still.... Although it was very hard to stay still with the pain... I ran around the house, in and out of showers, ran around of the garden shouting...anything to get mind off pain!! I thought I was losing it! I was screaming crying in the shower... And the only time I've ever done that was when I was in labour! I couldn't believe sun burn made me feel that way!! Day two was a big improvement... Pain was there, but much more manageable.. so to celebrate the pain going away that evening I treated myself to a couple of glasses of wine... Big mistake... Today I must be dehydrated and the pain is getting bad again.. So I'm sitting here, drinking glass after glass of water... Seems to be helping..

I tried every cream there is... None work.

I used the techniques I used in labour, I.e. Heavy breathing, relaxing mind, distracting mind and lots of pain killers...

Good luck to you all.

Reading this page really helped also. Something comforting knowing that others are feeling the pain too..  

Jake wrote at 2012-08-26 09:55:55
And now it is my turn-

First, $%^& baths and showers, as nasty as that sounds. I will smell like sasquatch, if it means I will not itch. The itching started 48 hours after I got the burn. Heres what I did-

I played lots of video games. I did not notice I was itchy until I said "My! Look at the time! I need to get to bed..."

WRONG! "BAM!" The great fiery stinging itch of demonic legend.

So I take an oatmeal bath. Doesnt help.

Take normal bath. Doesnt help.

Repeat both steps, staying in there for 1 hr+. Doesnt help. No big, itch isnt bad yet.

Then played video games, like I said earlier.. Didnt notice till I quit.

Go to the store, get vinegar. Lots of it. Itch is terrible, but not unbearable.

Take vinegar bath....

OH MY F$^%$^$CKING GOD! BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE! A friend told me of this remedy, and I about called him up to chew him out for his practical joke.. But he wasnt playing a trick.

Oatmeal bath- nothing.

Rinse off- Still thinking about ways to deliver more pain to myself to distract from this. Not many ways I could think of.

Tried vinegar again, just in case I did something wrong. Maybe there was residue from a cleaning agent in my bathtub? Washed out bathtub and took bath. SAME.

Im screaming at this point, alone in my house. Holding my back, with flexibility I did not know I had.

Came to computer to find remedy.. Found this site.

Skin got more dry as I read and laughed, sharing experiences.

Itch is (for the most part) gone.

Dry skin = mild itch.

Good luck!

Kelly wrote at 2012-09-07 08:36:19
VINEGAR!!!! Trust me I know it sounds weird, but this is the third time it's happened to me, I was looking everywhere online and willing to try just about anything.  Then I stumbled upon a website that swore by vinegar!! I don't know how or why, but I put some on a paper towel and viola, within minutes the itch was totally gone. Like everyone else said, this is something you don't understand unless youve experienced it. I how this helps at least one person!

Brian B wrote at 2012-09-18 16:38:42
Ok people, let’s get a couple things straight because there are two symptoms being confused and muddled together. Here is what we know:

1) Regular sunburn itch and skin reactions. This consists of burning, peeling, and uncomfortable itching.  And yes, it can be severe and painful BUT it is manageable.  Topical solutions and home remedies usually help the situation.  The more severe the sunburn, the more severe the symptoms.

2) Insanity itch/ demon itch/ hells itch/ fire itch/ suicide itch/ fire ants are eating my skin itch.  How do you know the difference?  Well, you sure as heckfire will know if you have it!  It is unbearable and nothing seems to help, and in fact, topicals seem to make it worse.  This can occur with only mild sunburn, and appears to start ~ 2 days after the sunburn.   Some of the best descriptions I've read so far:

"... someone kill me please..."

" The itching was so bad that I almost snapped.  I tried to have my wife knock me out with a 2 x 4"

"At its onset i was shaking uncontrollably, i was actually brought to my knees...i was screaming... i turned to pacing up and down my room, i lost count how many times, it was the only thing that gave me even a slight relief...its somewhere between an itch and thousands of constant insect bites that never end...

“at certain points i just wanted to knock myself out  because i couldn't bare the agony any longer, i'm not ashamed to say that, i was almost reduced to tears."

"...this is the worst pain I have ever went through. I now know what it would be like to be buried in an ant hill."

"this should be used as a form of torture for those who commit heinious crimes"

"All I could do is pace back and forth and ramble on about how I just wanted to die!"

"At one point, it was so bad that I started punching myself in the face to get my mind off of it."

"the itch is intolerable and evil. It's the only thing that will bring me to considering jumping out of my 2nd story window, but then I worry that I'll have two broken legs and the itch will remain!"

"It brought me to my knees. I was itching uncontrollably all over my back, screaming and crying hysterically. "

"I want my mom...tequilla..and Codeine."

"it felt like a brush fire spreading across my back and I began to go mental... as if I was possessed by a demon (an itchy demon). “

“This itch is unlike ANYTHING ELSE. It makes me want to rip my skin off using rusty razors, to put it lightly…It sends the sufferer into a demonic state of helplessness as they struggle to cope with the itch which prevails through all numbing, cooling and moisturizing remedies.”

Sooo you get the point.  You will know the difference.

Treatment: The insanity itch is an ALLERGIC REACTION and should be treated as such.  Therefore TAKE ANTIHISTAMINES like Benadryl , Allegra, etc.  Debate lingers on about the other treatments (topicals, hot/cold showers, natural oils, etc), so I won’t add my two cents here.  But sunburn is sunburn and treatment for #1 above should also be administered to help the skin heal as tolerable.  

How long does it last?  Good question… as peoples experience appear to range from 1 day to 2 weeks. I was surprised to find a lack of credible medical and scientific information out there on this.

I will add one further point from my situation.  I was getting sick while my sunburn and insanity itch occurred.  Therefore I wonder whether my depressed immune system had something to do with it, since this was the first time I’ve experienced the insanity itch.  

njkuhr wrote at 2012-10-09 15:46:32
This happens to me and I take one claritin, reditab. The itching goes away within minutes and doesn't come back. They are a little expensive but well worth it.

Itchmasterextreme wrote at 2012-10-15 16:35:09
Oh my good Lord. What the hell was that! Like most of you, my moderate (not too severe) sunburn was 2 days ago. I got home from work, itching a bit.

Took my shirt off and then it really started. I felt as if Satan himself had pulled out his worst curse. I have never been in so much pain. Burn would have been bearable, but this itch!!!??? WOW. I showered, applied cream, died of itch, showered again, applied shaving cream, died some more, contemplated suicide, and then showered again. It was whilst writing around on the cold tiled floor, still wet from my shower that I desperately raided the med box. I took 2 grandpa powders and 2 disprins as well as 2 allergex (antihistamine) and applied baby (talc) powder. It improved from "dear God I'm sorry for whatever you are so suddenly punishing me for", to "perhaps I might survive".

I found that the sensation of lying wrapped in bed helped and so I figured that a tight shirt could do the trick. It has. When I feel the itch coming, I wiggle a little bit (don't scratch). It's still horrible, but for the first time in 2 hours I have ruled out suicide. I have 2 big meetings in the morning and I'm really hoping this is the worst of it gone.

I have never added to a thread but somehow, perhaps due to the severity of my experience, I feel somewhat connected to you people.

Kale wrote at 2013-01-02 15:31:11
It's was a sunny day and I went to the pools with some friends. I was in the water without a t-shirt on for around an hour.

Day 1- Nothing

Day 2- Nothing

Day 3- I wanted to get shot than have the most irritating itch on my shoulders and back

It was around 6pm and I seemed fine until then. I was going out so I thought I would put some sun black on the sun burn DO NOT TRY IT I'm pretty sure this may of been the cause of this but you never know. I start kinda patting my back not itching as it would hurt on a sunburn. So at the start I thought I might just be allergic to something so I carried on by 7pm I wanted to be shot in the leg so I took a cold shower. It helped for about 10mins I thought I would just play some video games since I was felling ok. 10mins later I start to itch again and I was getting slightly annoyed and started yelling and soon enough crying. I have two panadols witch really I thought had no results so aggravated and annoyed I have a seccond shower (at this stage I was ready to crack) The shower had the same effect only lasted 10 mins I thought I was fine so go play video games again and within a matter of minutes this itch sent from hell is coming through the door. (I was going to smash my head through a wall) so I go take another two panadols again no effect so I look in the kitchen for something I find some claromine Using it was a waste of time because it did nothing (I had to find a baseball bat) I have a cold bath it didint work really I still got the itch underwater so my dad got home and gave me some heat medication and it worked Pretty well since it was 11pm at night and I got to bed late last night and woke up at 6am so I was happy I fell asleep for about 5 hours and I know it's all I'm going to get hopefully we go out today I get rid of the itch but I have noticed while I wrote this the itch has stopped I have learnt my lesson and will wear sunblock whenever I go to the beach I'm sure me and everyone else does not want to put up with this crap again  

Clinton wrote at 2013-01-08 20:39:04
I have the the same issue, never never again! What worked for me is the following .... ER gave me 1 voltaren and 1 cortizone injection, 2 painkillers and a bottle of good chaining Blanc wine .... seriously it has taken the latter of the itch away... dread tomorrow morning but I will say for now major relieve and if tomorrow bring the same issue I will post and inform negative but for now affirmative peeps! All I know is never again. Lots of love ;)

Jasmin wrote at 2013-01-19 12:50:52
Have never experienced this pain and itchiness it's just unbelievable I have tried everything I could imagine and my winner answer is cold shower then just keep applying sunscreen! It's brilliant!!

Good luck everyone thank you so much for this site and everyone's comments helped just knowing I wasn't alone  

jessica wrote at 2013-04-17 03:25:35
Vaseline! I've tried everything else with no luck. Vaseline stopped the itch!

The Sun 1: The Victim 0 wrote at 2013-05-08 09:34:54
Oh my GOD am I grateful that I came across this site!! I thought I was going crazy and all my friends think that I am making this up.  I got burned on Sunday after helping out my parents in their yard.  I had sun screen on, but obviously not enough.  By Sunday night, my skin felt like the surface of the sun.  I thought I was going to pull through it ok and then Tuesday came.  Tuesday brought the most insane, mind blowing itching I have ever experienced in my life.  I have begged my friends to put me out of m misery.  I have tried showers, Aloe, bathes, oatmeal, calamine, various lotions, creams and gels and NOTHING WORKS.  I literally sat up all night and felt like I was going to cry as the invisible fire ants devoured my skin from my neck down my back and across my shoulders.  As I sit here and type this, my leg is shaking and my eye is twitching as I try not to think about ways to flay my skin off my body to find relief.

I am going to take a cool shower, slather on the vapor rub and take two benedryl in that order to see how it works.  I have tried everything else.  I have nothing left to lose...

Klyn wrote at 2013-05-29 21:03:16
I have literally never added to a thread until now but I am stuck at work for three more hours about to lose my freaking mind because of this demonic "itch".  I am fair skinned and have had many burns that I thought were much worse then this one i got this weekend.  However I would gladly take the pain of the burn I once had that blistered over this insatiable ridiculous evil itch.  My boyfriend thought I was being dramatic till I sent him countless links to ppls stories.  I can't take benadryl because it makes me fall asleep and I have to work all week.  Anyone know of something like benadryl  that is non drowsy?  We have big glass windows here at work and I'm contemplating running through one in a hope all my skin is removed.  This is hell. When I die I'll stand before God and remind him I already paid my penance in hell. The only thing helping me is reading other ppls stories (distracting and makes me feel less crazy)  and post work a strong vodka and tonic followed by more vodka and tonic.  The only way I got to sleep last night was benadryl  and vodka. I give my deepest sympathy to every human experiencing this!  

Klyn wrote at 2013-05-29 21:03:20
I have literally never added to a thread until now but I am stuck at work for three more hours about to lose my freaking mind because of this demonic "itch".  I am fair skinned and have had many burns that I thought were much worse then this one i got this weekend.  However I would gladly take the pain of the burn I once had that blistered over this insatiable ridiculous evil itch.  My boyfriend thought I was being dramatic till I sent him countless links to ppls stories.  I can't take benadryl because it makes me fall asleep and I have to work all week.  Anyone know of something like benadryl  that is non drowsy?  We have big glass windows here at work and I'm contemplating running through one in a hope all my skin is removed.  This is hell. When I die I'll stand before God and remind him I already paid my penance in hell. The only thing helping me is reading other ppls stories (distracting and makes me feel less crazy)  and post work a strong vodka and tonic followed by more vodka and tonic.  The only way I got to sleep last night was benadryl  and vodka. I give my deepest sympathy to every human experiencing this!  

flaming skin wrote at 2013-05-30 13:48:34
I also  was extremely burned. My relief came from taking a cool bath (room temp)added in some cheap after shave splash and soaked for a while. I did not towel dry but stood in front of a fan until dry. This felt so good. I then added the after shave to a spray bottle (misting type, I could not stand it to squirt heavy on me)and sprayed full strength on me every time I  would get a pain or itch tingle. I hope this helps some else as much as it has helped me. It still takes several days to get rid of the redness but the relief was amazing.  

Barry wrote at 2013-08-27 22:06:43
OK. Here is the answer. I have had this several time and trust me it is by far the WORST thing I have ever had to endure. I now stock SPF 100 and will coat myself down even if the moon is full. The issue is an allergic reaction to the sun. Immediately to go and get a steroid shot and stock up on Benadryl, beer and wine. Keep on a tight shirt and DO NOT SCRATCH....If you do scratch, you are prolonging the pins and needles. After the steroid shot, I take 6 Benadryl and drink a 6 pack of beer and a bottle of wine. This enhances the effect of the Benadryl. With a steroid shot, the itching usually last for only a day. Without, can last for up to 3 or 4 days.  

burntteen wrote at 2014-05-25 01:21:26
My son had gone to the pool on Thursday and Saturday afternoon he had the itch from only Satan himself. This site has helped us a lot!  Everything you all have written is what he is going through. He was given 2 benadryl and a very strong pain killer as well as having cortisone cream on the burning/itching areas.  He is finally asleep. Never seen him that miserable. He said the hot shower helped as well as wrapping his shoulders in a towel and rubbing,  not scratching. Hope this helps others like your posts have helped us! Prayers going to everyone who is going through this!  

burntteen wrote at 2014-05-25 01:21:44
My son had gone to the pool on Thursday and Saturday afternoon he had the itch from only Satan himself. This site has helped us a lot!  Everything you all have written is what he is going through. He was given 2 benadryl and a very strong pain killer as well as having cortisone cream on the burning/itching areas.  He is finally asleep. Never seen him that miserable. He said the hot shower helped as well as wrapping his shoulders in a towel and rubbing,  not scratching. Hope this helps others like your posts have helped us! Prayers going to everyone who is going through this!  

Poohbear wrote at 2014-07-29 05:27:42
Those of you that say " if you are peeling then you are almost done" are WAY wrong!! I got sunburned while snorkeling in Grand Caymen. I never blistered or ran fever, but I was in BAD pain for almost a week. Then I started peeling, and the itch followed a day or 2 later. Now, over a week after all the skin has peeled off, I am still miserable!!! The itch is driving me crazy!!! And tonight there are a couple of spots on my back that feel like I have been rolling in fiberglass insulation - it's a burn on top of the itch. I agree with many of you... JUST SHOOT ME!!!!!!

Drew wrote at 2014-12-04 22:14:09
I am 14 years old and have suffered from the "hell itch" for 4 years now. Every time I get a bad sunburn I in turn get this awful itch. This is actually called Acute Sunburn Itch and is a legitimate medical condition. The only solution I have found is to take a very hot shower, as hot as you can stand. This is really painful, but will stop the demon itch.

TommyC wrote at 2015-03-11 09:05:00
I'm so glad I found this website. I've been losing my mind with the itch. My wife and I are on honeymoon in the tropics of the Indian ocean- we are from the UK and both very pale and white, and we don't get a lot of sun being from England. I work as a technician in a theatre, which means I go for months at a time without seeing more than an hour of natural light a day, due to the combination of long shifts and no windows. We often joke that we are all vitamin D deficient (which is probably true to some extent). In any case I don't see much sun!

When we got to the island, it  was over 32°C and humidity was running at 99%, so it's hot, sticky and tropical. As we've just come out of the end of a cold, dry winter at home, this was a big shock to the system- so the first thing we did when we got here was to jump in the sea for a few hours. It was cloudy so we didn't put any sunscreen. What I didn't realise, is that the UV index was running at about 12/16- which is in the extreme risk range. I will never do this again.

I went back to the hotel in the late afternoon and realised I'd burned my back and shoulders so immediately got into a cold shower to take the heat off and moisturised with aqueous cream. My wife did the same and we were both ok for a two days. My wife suffered no other ill effects after this (lucky!), however I certainly did.

On day two I applied some after-sun to my chest and it was the most intensely maddening pain I have ever felt. To call it an itch is almost misleading. It manifests itself like and itch but the sensation is as was best described in an earlier post. Somewhere between thousands of fire ants under your skin with occasional white hot needles being pushed into your flesh whilst battling the hive of bees in your mind which prevents you from thinking rationally or having even basic motor skills. In the panic, trying to unbutton my shorts or turning on the shower tap was difficult to achieve. The cold water was a relief as I washed off the offending aftersun.

I thought it was an isolated incident and wouldn't happen again if I was very careful of my chest area for the next day or so. I immediately knew it was a reaction to the cream, as when I was a child I had a mild cold weather eczema and reacted badly to E45. It was the same feeling but intensified by 1000x.

Hydrocortisone cream just made things worse- anything I tried except a cold shower made me want to rip my skin off.

Luckily I have some aqueous cream with me, which is formulated to be a simple moisturiser that works for people who have allergic reactions to other creams like E45. It's over the counter so you don't need it prescribing. That's the only thing I can put on my skin to stop it peeling without aggravating it although this doesn't stop the itch.

I found wrapping a dry towel around myself tightly in order to apply pressure to the area the only thing that worked. Thank the Lord the hotel room had air conditioning and a powerful ceiling fan. I think without that I would have been much worse.

My mother has suffered with severe allergies which only started slightly later in life and she has been diagnosed with a severe vitamin d deficiency, so genetically I'm not starting with the best hand- but as my symptoms have always been mild, I wasn't too worried or think that it would happen again.

This morning I woke wanting to rip the flesh of my arms- the cold shower did absolutely nothing this time  only applying pressure with a dry towel relieved the itch. Do not use a soft towel- use a rough one which has been through the wash a few times. DO NOT rub it on your skin, just apply tight pressure with it- it's the same relief as scratching the area without the itch coming back.

It seems to be most intense when I wake up in the morning so I'm dreading tomorrow now.

I'm drinking loads of water after reading all of your comments and my wife has just gone out to get me some anti-histamines- so I'll try that with some ibuprofen and pray that it works.

Considering we are experiencing extremely heavy rain and flooding due to the violent tropical storms caused by a cyclone passing the island yesterday, that's some dedication. She's a keeper!

My tips:

Cold shower

Air dry in a cold room. Fan at full speed, aircon at coldest.

Apply pressure on itching area with a dry, rough towel (but do not rub it!) try wrapping it around yourself and pulling it tight.

Moisturise with a cream designed for people who react to parrafin or any other agent you could react to. Aqueous cream worked for me.

Lots of water.

Antihistamines/ibuprofen combo.

And it goes without saying, keep out of the sun!

Reading this thread really helped me keep my mind off it- thank you all- and I feel your pain!

Edanedan wrote at 2015-04-05 18:44:16
Ok so I survived Day 1 of Hells Itch. I got burned two days ago while sun tanning on the lovely Surin Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Being olive skinned I thoight I could wait 2 hours before I applied any sunscreen. Guess what? The sun won that battle. A severe burn resulted but this burn ain't got nothin on the itch that erupted today in the morning. This itch was awakened by me applying After Sun lotion and Aloe Vera lotion that I purchased yesterday. Naturally I thought this was an allergic reaction so I hopped in the shower. Then came out and it still burned and felt like how I imagine skin would react if I applied fire ants all over in an attempt to torture a POW. This is literally the most painful event of my adult life and I didn't know it was a common thing until this forum; thank you forum. I have laughed out loud reading the posts as I too have contemplated suicide or even assisted suicide as my mother is here on the trip with me (she was at the beach when I lost my mind earlier today and paced back n forth yelling obscenities like a madman thankfully).

What I've found to work: Atarax. I bought this by chance on the way to Phuket due to its tranquilizer effect. However, it also is an antihistamine and it helped subside my pain until this evening when it returned. My girlfriend also suggested vinegar for the burn which in combination with the Atarax has been soothing. I hope this goes away by my flight tomorrow night. If not, I don't know if I can bear being in a winged tube with this.

Do not itch or add any lotions!!

Nelly14 wrote at 2015-04-07 07:36:03
Take a hot shower(brief)- apply A&d lotion generously- this is the key...take as much atarax as you can wile chugging water- take multivitamin -wear a tight shirt and don't take it off.  

Scott wrote at 2015-04-07 21:00:40
BEN-A-DRYL! Take 2.... Itch... gone. When the Benedryl starts to wear off, take another 2. This will go on for a day or two.

I've tried everything... even went to the ER. Benedryl works.

K wrote at 2015-08-17 01:06:26

I’ve read several inquiries online from people desperately seeking relief as they experience an unusual deep nerve penetrating itch after a sunburn.

My family has experienced this for three generations and when we finally found this solution we try to let others know.

For intense-deep-i’m going crazy-sunburn itch ….get PEPPERMINT OIL. Be careful not to buy peppermint extract. You can find PEPPERMINT OIL in health food stores and natural foods stores. There are some pharmacists who know about this and carry it as well…not many though.

Rub the oil directly on the affected area until all of the surface is covered. If you can’t reach…for back burns, have someone else apply thoroughly.

The hands of whoever applies it will feel the cooling affect of the oil even after they wash their hands. It feels fine, not painful in anyway. AVOID any contact with eyes, mouth or nose however as they will be irritated by the oil.

This is the ONLY thing that works nearly instantly and permanently with this deep nerve sunburn itch that some people experience. One application is all that is necessary as Peppermint oil is pretty potent. Please try this. I know the insanity you are feeling if you are going through this right now.

Again I’m talking about unusually intense deep nerve itching, not regular peeling skin itch that most people experience post sunburn. This deeper, intense almost pinching itch begins usually one or two days following a burn and those who experience it feel as though they are going crazy as it’s intensity is nearly unbearable.

Things to avoid that only make this itch worse…don’t apply any lotion or other oils. This includes pure aloe vera which seems to just dry it more. Standing under a cool shower spray can help as long as you are in it while you wait for someone to buy the PEPPERMINT OIL. Anyone who has gone through this knows that any relief brought by the spray of water goes away as soon as you get out of the shower and start to dry the itch returns.

PEPPERMINT OIL WILL remove the itch.

Just writing about this always makes me remember the insane feeling of experiencing this and makes me hopeful others will find this in time to find relief.

Once you’ve used it IT WILL WORK. You’ll want to keep the oil on hand and avoid at all costs exposing yourself to the sun again like that in the future. We know two things about it…if you’ve experienced it once you are vulnerable to it happening again, and, it seems to be a genetic thing. About half of my family members have experienced it once, two of them twice. We don’t risk it anymore. It is sure nice to know what to do about it though.

I research this quite a lot to see if others have found this solution. I did see a few posts that have indicated that gold balm medicated powder has worked for some relief too. I haven’t tried that (and don’t intend to EVER be in the position to need to again), but it’s worth writing about any real relief as this is such a crazy thing to experience with no relief.

Amy wrote at 2016-05-23 17:16:50
I am a 63 year old woman who has experienced many sunburns and even sun poisoning. But NOTHING, compares to my first time experience with Hell's Itch.  I spent the day on a pontoon in Fla. on vavation. I covered myself in sunblock so I thought,  pretty well. I missed a small spot on my arm near my shoulder down into the soft tissue of my upper chest. OMG! This happened on April 28th, it is now May 23, 2016 and I am still fighting it. THANK YOU! To who started this blog, and I thank GOD, for helping me find it!!!! The allergy pills suggestion has helped, the hydrocortisone has helped, as well as the application of a high potency baby eczema creme made by Eucerin. I am going to find peppermint oil today. I am "assuming" that as I am older and it takes longer for anything to heal is why I am experiencing the EXTENDED version of this. I thank GOD it was not my back, I can't imagine.

Thoughts, prayers and swift results,  to all who are going through this unbelievable experience. Good to know we are not ALONE!!


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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>


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