Scalp sunburn is a condition where the scalp is exposed to UVA/UVB light from the sun without protection such as sunscreen or clothing. The body should be exposed for only 20 minutes to the sun regularly to gain vitamin D.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight will result to sunburn. The scalp is usually the area not given enough protection before going to a beach.
- Take a shower using cool water for the scalp. Apply a cool washcloth over the head while taking a shower to relieve the pain and discomfort. Avoid using shampoos that contains sulfates to prevent drying of the scalp and worsen the condition.
- Use shampoo and conditioners with 18-MEA that provides moisture to the damaged scalp. Avoid using conditioners containing dimethicone to prevent clogging the pores and trapping heat in the scalp that can worsen the condition.
- Avoid using a blow dryer and straightener to prevent pain while the scalp is still burned. Avoid styling gels that contains chemicals to prevent irritation of the scalp that can worsen the condition.
- Apply a cold compress on the affected scalp to cool the skin and lessen the discomfort. Another alternative is using cold skim milk where the compress is soaked and applied on the affected area. Rinse the hair quickly after applying the compress.
- Apply a moisturizer on the burned area to keep it cool and lessen the pain in the scalp. Use moisturizers that contain aloe gel or hydrocortisone to lessen the pain. Another alternative is using coconut oil. Moisturizers with vitamin E and C are also good for the condition. Avoid using products containing lidocaine or benzocaine.
- Drink plenty of water to moisturize the skin. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to prevent dehydration.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to lessen the pain caused by a scalp sunburn. Avoid giving aspirin to children to prevent the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.
- Minimize exposure to the sun while the area is still in the healing process. Wear a hat that is loose to prevent trapping of heat on the scalp and place pressure on the sunburn.
- If blisters develop on the scalp, avoid picking or poking the blisters to prevent infection and scarring of the area. Keep the scalp dry and allow the blisters to heal and avoid applying moisturizers on the area to prevent worsening of the condition.
- If experiencing faint or dizziness, extreme thirst, fast pulse or breathing, no urination, clammy skin and sunken eyes, it is best to seek medical help immediately.
- Fever of 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C, seek medical help immediately.
- Be gentle when brushing the hair while the scalp burn is still in the healing process.
- Always wear hat when going out under the sun for a long time.
- Avoid staying out in the sun during peak hours especially between 10 AM to 4 PM.
Disclaimer / More Information
The material posted on this page on scalp sunburn is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage environmental issues including a scalp sunburn by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.