A tanning itch can be an uncomfortable symptom after spending time under the sun or on a tanning bed. It’s great getting that bronze glow after your day at the beach or a tanning session, but sometimes the dry, itchy skin that results can be a pain to deal with. Here are some facts about tanning itch and how to prevent itchy skin after tanning.
Tanning Itch and How to Deal with It
What Is Tanning Itch?
Feeling itchy after tanning can be really annoying. This occurs as your tanned skin regenerates the skin cells that were destroyed or damaged during tanning. However, the irritation doesn’t happen immediately after getting a tan. Most of the time, it takes a good 24 to 48 hours before you get itchy skin after tanning.
What Causes Tanning Itch?
Feeling itchy after tanning is not an uncommon thing. In fact, one reason you may have a tanning itch is if you spend too much time under the light. Apart from time, here are the other common reasons why your skin itches after tanning:
- You’re sensitive to UVA or UVB rays.
- You might be allergic to the cleaning agent used in your tanning bed.
- You’re not properly hydrated before tanning.
- You have dehydrated skin.
Tanning Itch Symptoms
People who experience tanning itch describe it as an itch you can’t just solve by normal scratching because it occurs right under the skin. Some say the itch resembles ants biting your skin. The majority of people who experience this said the most affected areas are the back and shoulders. This is because these are also the most difficult areas to apply a generous amount of sunscreen.
Scratching your tanning itch isn’t only painful, but you can cause further damage to your sensitive skin and may wound it in the process. Fair-skinned people get burned easily and are at more risk of tanning itch. People who have jobs or live in places with higher sun exposure are also at risk of getting tanning itch. If you’re a tanning addict, there’s a high chance you might get tanning itch and even serious health problems like skin cancer later on.
Tanning Itch Diagnosis
Tanning itch may be an unpleasant skin problem to have, but it’s treatable. In fact, tanning regulars self-diagnose and treat tanning itch at home. However, you’ll want to check with your doctor if the symptoms do persist or get worse over time. Coupled with other symptoms like blisters, nausea, fever, chills, or a rash, you might run the risk of getting sun poisoning. Do seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these additional symptoms aside from tanning itch.
Tanning bed itch and tanning itch are easily avoidable if you give special attention to your skin and your overall health before and after tanning. Prevention will lessen the chances of getting itchy skin after a tanning bed session:
- Check with a therapist to find out the recommended time to get “baked” with your current skin color and type.
- Practice skin care tips before tanning.
- If you’re planning to use a tanning bed or lamp, check out these indoor tanning tips to avoid feeling itchy after tanning bed sessions.
- Get hydrated before and during your tanning session if possible.
- Avoid staying under direct sunlight. If you have to, wear at least SPF30 sunscreen and light-colored clothing.
- Use extra sunscreen on areas where your skin is thin, such as the face, nape, ears, and nose area.
- Wear a hat to protect your scalp.
- After your tanning session, stay out of the sun to prevent further skin damage and practice these post-tanning tips.
Why Do I Itch After Tanning Bed Sessions?
Going to a tanning salon is a quick way to get that beautiful golden-brown skin you want. In fact, just hop on a tanning bed and let the lights work their magic on you. Tanning beds are machines that emit UV rays directly on your body. Most of the time people who get itchy skin after tanning bed sessions are allergic to their bed cleaners or the UV lights. Often, you just have to give your skin time to heal and adjust between tanning sessions.
Can You Get Sun Poisoning from a Tanning Bed?
Apart from getting itchy skin from a tanning bed, you may also get sun poisoning rash. Despite the name, sun poisoning doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been poisoned. It’s actually a type of burn you get from being exposed to UV rays.
Sun Poisoning from Tanning Bed Symptoms
Sun poisoning will leave you with more than just wondering “why does my skin itch after tanning?” In fact, some of the symptoms of sun poisoning from tanning bed sessions include:
- Pain and tingling feeling
Tanning Itch Remedies
Follow these four steps to treat tanning itch:
Step 1: Cool the affected skin down. You can use a natural aloe vera cooling gel or a cold compress. You can also take a refreshing shower to relieve it as well.
Step 2: Examine the itchy skin. If there are blisters, cover it with a gauze dressing or light bandage.
Step 3: Don’t apply anything on the blisters, even if it’s itchy. Avoid using benzocaine sprays, steroid creams, and pills to prevent further irritation and itchiness.
Step 4: Over-the-counter diphenhydramine can relieve tanning itch. Don’t take this if you plan to drive after.
Watch this video from Ways and Hows on how to treat tanning itch:
Prevention is always the key to truly enjoy the benefits of tanning. Whether you’re aiming for a sun-kissed glow or dark bronze skin, the tanning process won’t be smooth or enjoyable if you have tanning itch. The moment you notice the symptoms, try the remedies above immediately. If it doesn’t work, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist right away.
What’s the worse tanning itch you experienced? Share us your tanning itch stories in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on November 29, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.