Home Sunburn Sunburned Scalp Treatment: 8 DIY Methods [Safe]

Sunburned Scalp Treatment: 8 DIY Methods [Safe]

The best treatment for sunburned scalp
Our recommended Product - Dr. Numb® 5% Lidocaine Cream - 30g

While many of us focus on applying sunscreen on our face and body during the summer, we often neglect our scalp, which can cause severe sunburn.

In fact, according to a study by the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over their lifetime, and the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is increasing faster among women aged 20-29 than any other demographic group. Therefore, taking care of our scalp and protecting it from the sun's harmful rays is crucial.

In this blog post, we will explore different sunburned scalp treatment options and discuss how to prevent sunburn on the scalp.

Sunburned Scalp Treatment: DIY 8 Safe Methods

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Sunburn on the scalp is a common problem many face, especially during the summer months. Excessive sun exposure can cause redness, pain, and even blisters on the scalp. In this case, it is essential to adopt an effective sunburned scalp treatment immediately. Here are some of the different ways to treat a sunburned scalp.

Cool Showers

Cool showers relieve the sunburned scalp, reducing inflammation and avoiding extreme temperature changes that could worsen discomfort.

  • Pain Relief: Cool water offers relief by reducing pain and inflammation associated with the sunburned scalp.
  • Temperature Balance: Choose cool, not cold, water during showers to prevent extreme temperatures that could worsen discomfort.
  • Healing Focus: Opt for cool showers until sunburn fully heals, promoting a soothing and less agitating environment.
  • Comfort Priority: Cool showers prioritize comfort and healing, providing a valuable step in treating sunburned scalp.
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Shampoo And Conditioner

Look for gentle, sulfate-free products for sunburned scalps that promote healing without exacerbating discomfort. The following information will help you choose the right products:

  • Hydrating System Choice: Opt for a hydrating shampoo and conditioner duo such as Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner when washing your sunburned scalp. These products are formulated to provide gentle cleansing and moisture, aiding recovery.
  • Mild Formulas: Look for products with mild formulas free of harsh chemicals and sulfates. These gentle formulas help prevent further irritation to the sensitive, sunburned scalp.
  • Soothing Ingredients: Some shampoos, like Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders, contain specialized ingredients to help ease itchiness and address dry, flaky scalp, relieving sunburned areas.
  • Avoid Fragrances and Additives: Choose products without strong fragrances or additives that might cause additional discomfort. Prioritize simplicity in your shampoo and conditioner choices.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Ensure you rinse your scalp thoroughly after using shampoo and conditioner to remove any residue. Leaving residue behind can lead to further irritation, hindering the healing process.

Skip Using Too Many Hair Products

Avoid using too many hair products if you have a sunburned scalp

Sunburned scalps can help to heal and minimize discomfort by reducing hair product usage. Keeping your hair care routine simple is critical to treating sunburned scalp effectively. According to the information below:

  • Sulfate-Free Shampoos: Opt for sulfate-free shampoos during your sunburn recovery period. Sulfates can strip natural oils and moisture from the scalp, exacerbating dryness and irritation.
  • Dimethicone-Free Conditioners: Choose conditioners without dimethicone, a common silicone-based ingredient. Dimethicone can clog pores and hinder heat dissipation, potentially worsening sunburn damage.
  • Minimize Chemical Exposure: Limit the use of hair products to prevent exposing your sunburned scalp to unnecessary chemicals. Many products contain irritants that can prolong healing and discomfort.
  • Promote Healing: Allowing your scalp to breathe and heal naturally without the interference of excessive products can expedite the recovery process and reduce the risk of further irritation.
  • Choose Gentle Alternatives: If necessary, opt for gentle, natural products specifically planned for sensitive or damaged scalps. Prioritize ingredients that soothe and nourish without causing additional harm.

Dry And Style Your Hair Naturally

You should avoid using hair dryers or styling tools that emit heat. To avoid sunburned areas from getting in contact with your hair, consider the following information.

  • Heat Avoidance: Give your sunburned scalp a break from heat-styling tools like hairdryers and straighteners. Heat can intensify discomfort and delay the healing process.
  • Gentle Towel Drying: Instead of vigorous rubbing, gently pat your hair with a soft towel to remove excess moisture. This prevents further irritation and minimizes stress on your sunburned scalp.
  • Air Drying: Allow your hair to air dry naturally whenever possible. This gentle method helps to prevent additional stress on your sensitive scalp while it recovers.
  • Skip Excessive Styling: Hold off using extra styling products or accessories that could further irritate the sunburned area. Opt for simple and loose hairstyles that don't strain the scalp.

Soothe The Pain With Cold Compresses

Cool compresses help soothe sunburned scalps

Apply cold, damp compresses to your scalp for around 15 minutes daily. This can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Post-Shower Care: Transition to a cold compress after showering for ongoing relief. Apply it regularly to the sunburned scalp to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Calming Effect: Cold compresses provide a cooling sensation that helps soothe the discomfort associated with the sunburned scalp, promoting a sense of relief.
  • Inflammation Reduction: The consistent application of cold compresses assists in decreasing inflammation, aiding the healing process of the sunburned area.
  • Personalized Comfort: Adjust the frequency of cold compress application based on your comfort level and the severity of the sunburn, ensuring optimal relief and support for healing.
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Aloe Vera Moisturizers

Sunburns can be effectively relieved by aloe vera's natural soothing properties. To moisturize and promote healing, apply aloe vera gel or lotion to your scalp.

  • Soothing Aloe Vera Gel: Apply 100% pure aloe vera gel directly to your sunburned scalp to provide soothing and cooling relief. Its natural properties can alleviate discomfort without making your hair appear greasy.
  • Lightweight and Oil-Free: Aloe vera is a lightweight and oil-free moisturizer, making it ideal for sunburned scalps. It won't weigh down your hair or leave a greasy residue.
  • Customized Moisturization: You can use aloe vera gel as often as needed to maintain moisture in your dry scalp, offering personalized relief based on the level of dryness and discomfort you're experiencing.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration can worsen sunburns, so drinking water is essential to aiding the body's healing processes.

  • Dehydration Prevention: Sunburned scalp treatment is aided by staying hydrated. Drinking ample water helps prevent dehydration, which is essential for overall healing and recovery.
  • Hydration Support: Proper hydration supports the body's healing mechanisms and helps maintain skin health, aiding in the recovery of sunburned areas.
  • Internal Healing: Drinking extra water during recovery promotes internal healing and contributes to a healthier scalp and skin.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Relief from Sunburned Scalp Pain Over-the-Counter

Medications like ibuprofen and aspirin minimize pain and inflammation, ensuring comfort during sunburned scalp treatment. Following are the recommended dosages for effective relief and healing:

  • Pain and Inflammation Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin effectively reduce pain and inflammation associated with a sunburned scalp.
  • Proper Dosage: It's advisable to take the lowest recommended dose of these medications for 2 to 3 days to manage discomfort, ensuring you follow the instructions on the product label or as a healthcare professional advises.

Prevention For Sunburned Scalp

Prevention is often the best course of action regarding sunburned scalp treatment. Sunburn can be avoided by protecting your scalp from harmful UV rays. Here are key strategies for preventing a sunburned scalp.


Effective scalp protection begins with choosing the right hat. Here's what to consider:

  • Criteria for Effective Scalp Protection: Opt for hats with wide brims that offer sufficient shade to the scalp, ears, and neck. A hat with a brim of at least 3 inches can provide optimal coverage.
  • Types of Hats for Scalp Protection: Consider wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat, a baseball cap with a neck flap, or a UPF-rated hat to shield your scalp from harmful UV rays.


Sunscreen prevention for sunburned scalp

Sunscreen with enough SPF prevents sunburn on the exposed scalp and reduces the need for treatment afterward. During outdoor activities, regular reapplication ensures continuous protection.

  • Recommended SPF Values: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on your exposed scalp. Look for products that specifically mention scalp application.
  • Application Methods: Apply sunscreen to your scalp generously, ensuring even coverage. Gently massage it into your scalp, focusing on part lines and areas with thinning hair.
  • Importance of Reapplication: Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if you're sweating or swimming. Remember to reapply after toweling off or excessive sweating.

Limiting Sun Exposure

Preventing sunburned scalp is easier by following time and clothing guidelines, such as avoiding peak sunlight hours and wearing protective clothing. Sun safety is crucial to treating sunburned scalp effectively.

  • Time and Duration Guidelines: Avoid direct sun exposure during peak hours, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest. Seek shade or use protective measures during these times.
  • Recommended Clothing for Sun Protection: Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses to prevent sunburn. For enhanced protection, choose UPF-rated clothing.

When preventing sunburn on the scalp, use appropriate hats, apply effective sunscreen, and wear clothing that minimizes direct sunlight exposure. The following preventive strategies can help protect your scalp from sunburn and enhance your skin's long-term health.

Risks And Complications For Sunburn Scalp

Skin cancer and severe pain can result from untreated sunburned scalps, so proper treatment and prevention are essential. If sunburn is treated promptly, these risks can be minimized, and recovery can be more comfortable and quicker.

Indications of Serious Sunburns

Indications of Serious Sunburn On The Scalp

There are several indications of serious sunburns, including blistering, severe pain, fever, and signs of infection, all of which need immediate medical attention because they pose severe risks and complications for sunburned scalps.

  • Blistering: Severe sunburns on the scalp can lead to blister formation. If you notice blisters, it's a sign that your sunburn is more severe and requires medical attention.
  • Extreme Pain: Intense pain beyond the usual discomfort associated with sunburn may indicate a more serious burn that warrants a medical assessment.
  • Fever or Chills: If you develop a fever or experience chills after a sunburn, it could signify a systemic reaction, indicating a need for medical evaluation.

Risks Of Sunburned Scalp

Skin damage, discomfort, and potential long-term skin complications are risks associated with sunburned scalp; thus, prompt and effective treatment is essential.

  • Increased Risk of Infection: Sunburned skin is more susceptible to bacterial infections. Scratching or picking at the scalp can introduce bacteria, leading to potential complications.
  • Prolonged Discomfort: Ignoring a sunburned scalp can lead to prolonged discomfort, affecting your daily life and overall well-being.
  • Risk of Scarring: Severe sunburns may result in scarring, which can be permanent and alter the appearance of your scalp.

Complications And Outcomes

Indications of Serious Sunburn On The Scalp

A sunburned scalp can result in prolonged pain, skin aging, and increased susceptibility to skin cancer, thus emphasizing the need for proper treatment and prevention.

  • Peeling and Itching: Sunburned scalp can peel and itch during healing, causing discomfort.
  • Hyperpigmentation: Some individuals may experience darkening of the affected skin, which can be a long-lasting outcome of sunburn.
  • Delayed Healing: Without proper treatment, a sunburned scalp may take longer to heal, extending the period of discomfort.
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Skin Cancer Risks

It is critical to treat sunburned scalp diligently and take ongoing sun protection measures to avoid developing skin cancer, including melanoma.

  • Increased Risk: Repeated sunburns, especially those leading to blistering or severe damage, can elevate the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, on the scalp.
  • Regular Skin Checks: It's essential to regularly examine your scalp for any new moles, growths, or changes in existing moles, as early detection is crucial for skin cancer management.
  • Consult a Dermatologist: If you have a history of severe sunburns or are concerned about skin cancer risk, consult a dermatologist for regular skin examinations and guidance on sun protection.

When you have concerns about the severity of your sunburn or its potential long-term effects, always consult a healthcare professional.


In conclusion, it is important to take care of your scalp as you do for the rest of your body. A sunburned scalp causes discomfort and can lead to severe skin damage. Remember to take preventative measures before stepping out in the sun, such as wearing a hat or using sunscreen specifically formulated for scalp protection.

The remedies mentioned above are easy and helpful in soothing sunburned scalp and promoting healthy hair growth. Take care of your skin and enjoy the beautiful summer days without any worry.

Our recommended Product - Dr. Numb® 5% Lidocaine Cream - 30g
Matt Callard
I am a passionate traveler, as if traveling were my full-time job. I like to change my surroundings and environment, like changing desktop wallpaper. Nature increases the concentration in my writing, which helps brainstorming flow in my blood. I have a cat named Kitana. She is the most desperate about traveling, more than any other cat. How do I know? If I miss any tour in any week, she literally destroys my clothing with her wolverine nails.

I and my cat also participate in extreme activities like surfing, biking, hill tracking, paragliding, boating, etc. She was always there in my accidents, injuries, and stitches. She always sits on my lap when it hurts me most. The funniest part is that she has experienced all my tattoos. She sleeps on my blanket when I go through any painful experience.

My hobbies and lifestyle added many pain and injuries to my life. That is why I have a lot of experience in dealing with different levels of pain and burn. It influenced me to become a pain expert and share primary suggestions to handle any unwanted situations that hurt.


  • How Long Does It Typically Take For The Scalp To Heal After Sunburn?

    Depending on the severity of the sunburn, a sunburn takes 3-5 days to heal. Protecting the scalp from further sun exposure during this time is important to prevent further damage and prolong the healing process.

  • What Oil Is The Best Treatment For A Sunburned Scalp, And Why?

    Coconut oil is a popular treatment for sunburned scalp because it contains anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce redness and soothe the skin. It also has a cooling effect, which helps relieve the discomfort associated with sunburn.

  • Can Hair Typically Be Expected To Regrow After Experiencing Sunburn On The Scalp?

    After experiencing sunburn on the scalp, your hair can regrow. Prolonged sun exposure can damage hair follicles, leading to hair loss in some cases. To prevent this, wearing sunscreen or a hat when spending time in the sun is important.

  • Is There A Correlation Between Scalp Sunburn And Dandruff?

    Sunburn on the scalp is associated with dandruff. Sunburn can disrupt the scalp's natural moisture balance, leading to dryness and flakiness. This can trigger or worsen dandruff symptoms. Maintaining hydration and moisturization after sunburn is crucial to preventing this.

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