The Best Lotions For Itchy Sunburns
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Sunburns can lead to all sorts of pain and discomfort, from tender, peeling skin to headaches and tiredness. Another super-irritating (pun intended) side effect caused by a sunburn is itchy skin that’s red, inflamed, and uncomfortable. In some cases, sunburn itch gets so bad that it’s referred to as “hell’s itch.” The best lotions for itchy sunburns are made with ingredients like soy, aloe, or oatmeal to soothe irritated skin and combat the dryness that occurs. (Aloe is also helpful if your skin is peeling). You can also treat particularly itchy spots with a hydrocortisone steroid cream, says the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Just avoid anything that contains benzocaine or other "-caine" ingredients, the AAD warns, as that can cause a reaction on sunburned skin.
Apply your lotion after you take a cool bath or shower while your skin is still slightly damp, advises the AAD. Don’t scratch your skin or use any types of scrubs or exfoliants that can further inflame your skin, and stay out of the sun while you heal. Mild sunburns are typically treated at home, but if you wind up with blisters on a large area of your body or are experiencing symptoms like chills and a fever, the AAD suggests you seek immediate care.
Scroll down to shop the best lotions for itchy sunburns, all available on Amazon. And be sure to stock up on sunscreen so you can avoid any more accidental sunburns going forward.
1. The Overall Best Lotion For Itchy Sunburns
CeraVe’s anti-itch lotion is made with pramoxine hydrochloride, a numbing agent that can reduce symptoms like itching and pain caused by sunburns and other minor skin discomforts like bug bites. It’s fast-acting and can provide relief for up to eight hours, and comes in a large, 8-ounce bottle complete with a handy pump dispenser. The lotion itself is fragrance-free and steroid-free, and contains CeraVe’s hero ingredient, ceramides, to support a strong skin barrier, as well as calming niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
Designed for all skin types, CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Lotion features the seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association, so it’s a safe choice for just about everyone.
2. Another Excellent Anti-Itch Lotion
Insect bites, poison ivy, heat rash, sunburn — you name it, the camphor and menthol in Sarna’s Original Anti-Itch Lotion should help relieve it. This is another great bargain drugstore buy, and this too is steroid-free, like the CeraVe lotion above, though it does contain fragrance, in case that’s something you prefer to avoid. Fans of this lotion appreciate the cooling sensation upon contact that offers immediate relief to burned, irritated skin.
3. Best Lotion For Itchy Sunburns & Peeling Skin
If your sunburn has caused dry, itchy skin, Cool Down from Sun Bum can return your MIA moisture and alleviate that tightness and discomfort sunburns create. The lightly-scented, creamy lotion has cottonseed oil, aloe, jojoba, and cocoa butter and feels extremely hydrating and rich.
If dry skin isn’t the issue here and you are just feeling super hot and prickly, the brand also sells an airy, light gel version of this that feels great on too-warm, tight skin.
4. Best Hydrocortisone Lotion For Itchy Sunburns
Though Cortizone 10 is intended for people with eczema, the 1% hydrocortisone inside can be helpful for alleviating itching and pain from sunburn. The fragrance-free lotion is made with aloe, glycerin, shea butter, and petrolatum, and offers a thick layer of protection that soothes skin upon contact. It is a bit stickier than some of the more lightweight lotions on this list, so be sure to factor that in when making your decision.
5. Best Oatmeal Lotion For Itchy Sunburns
Applying or soaking in oatmeal is a tried-and-true way to calm irritated skin, so try Eucerin’s gentle, fragrance-free, oatmeal-based lotion for sensitive skin that’s itchy and irritated. This would make a great year-round body lotion because it’s full of all sorts of gentle ingredients that help keep skin moisturized and healthy, and it’s made without any of the medicated ingredients that make some other lotions better for temporary use only.
6. Best Gel Cream For Itchy Sunburns
I love Cetaphil’s Soothing Gel Cream. It’s fragrance-free and made with aloe, vitamin E, and allantoin, a natural anti-inflammatory that also protects skin. It’s surprisingly lightweight but concentrated enough so that you only need a little bit of product, and it sinks into skin immediately without feeling greasy or sticky, so you can get dressed right away after applying it. This is another great pick for skin that’s stressed from sunburn, though the medicated lotions above would be better for super-itchy days. Overall, this is a nice, soothing lotion to keep on hand for sunburns, irritation, and run-of-the-mill dryness.
7. An Indie-Favorite Lotion For Sunburns
Maui Vera is a Hawaiian brand launched by a massage therapist who wanted spa-quality skin care products with natural ingredients sourced from Hawaii, and their healing gel ointment contains all sorts of good-for-skin ingredients like aloe, witch hazel (another natural, old-school ingredient for minor sunburn discomfort), green tea, peppermint, and Noni, which is from a hydrating, healing fruit tree. It also smells delicious, and keeps your burnt skin feeling hydrated and soothed — and yes, less itchy.