How To Really Treat A Sunburned Scalp

When we go outside and know we're going to be in the sun, we often lather on the SPF all over our bodies. Nothing sours a fun day in the sun more than the ensuing burning, itching, sweating, and chills that come with getting a bad sunburn. But, sometimes, without even noticing, we end up with sunburn on places that are a bit hard to treat. 

Scalp sunburns, or even sunburns along the hairline, are fairly common; we tend to neglect that area of our body when we start to apply sunscreen before going out, Healthline explains. Often, we don't even realize that we have a scalp sunburn until we shower or brush our hair. 

There are ways to prevent scalp sunburns, such as wearing hats or scarves. But if you already have a scalp sunburn, there are plenty of ways to treat it, too. Here's how to treat a sunburned scalp, as well as what hair products to avoid until your scalp has recovered.

How to treat a scalp sunburn

Treating a scalp burn is much like treating a regular body sunburn, but with a few differences. First, you want to make sure you shower with cold water when you're washing your hair. Warm water can cause pain and make the scalp burn way worse, Byrdie explains. You also want to be extremely gentle when combing and brushing your hair. Avoid brushing from the root/scalp area to avoid pulling and being too rough on your hairline. 

Next, you can apply different moisturizer creams and gels to ensure your scalp is staying hydrated and cool, such as hydrocortisone cream or aloe vera gel. The idea behind this is to help your burn and to prevent your scalp from flaking and peeling during the healing process, per Real Simple. Other hacks and home remedies include using washcloths doused in cold milk and applying the cloths to your head, as milk is known to help promote healing, per Allure.

Additionally, you'll want to avoid using heat tools and accessories while your scalp is healing. Extra heat on top of your healing scalp can cause more irritation and harm the areas that are already sun-damaged. You'll also want to avoid any shampoos and conditioners with harsh chemicals, such as dandruff shampoos, according to Allure. But the most important thing to do is ensure that you protect your scalp in the future on those sunny days.