Itching After Tanning

We all love the feeling of the glowing, golden body from a tanning session. While tanning gives us an excellent feeling, sometimes it can cause you to have a horrible tanning itch. Itching after tanning can be one of the most irritating and frustrating experiences. You can feel so uncomfortable that all you want to do is peel your skin off.

What are the causes of this horrible feeling and can it be prevented and treated?

6 Causes of Itching After Tanning

1. Dry Skin

It is the most common cause of itching. Dry skin is often caused by the heat of tanning bed, and can be scratchy and uncomfortable.

2. UV Irritation

The effects of UV irritation can last up to 24 hours following a tan, which makes your skin extremely itchy and sore.

3. Dirty Tanning Beds

The majority of salons keep their tanning beds clean, and the UV light also helps keep the bed sanitary. However if the beds are not properly sanitized between client use, then it may trigger the problem of itching.

4. Chemical Irritation

Different chemicals such as perfumes or moisturizers can react with the UV light in a tanning bed, causing you to feel itchy and uncomfortable. Some people can also be affected if they come into contact with the cleaning product used by the salon.

5. Over Stimulation of Nerve Endings

For someone who goes on tanning beds on a regular basis, they may find that some areas of their body, especially the stomach and chest, are producing less melanin, as the nerve endings in these areas have been over stimulated. While this is not a serious or permanent problem, it can be uncomfortable and cause the body to itch. 

6. Effects of Certain Drugs

Certain drugs like antibiotics may also cause itching after tanning because these drugs can make you more sensitive to UV light. You should always discuss the side effects with your doctor before getting a tanning. 

Home Remedies for Itching After Tanning

1. Use Cider Vinegar on Your Burns

Cider vinegar can be used as an antiseptic as it helps your skin heal faster by neutralizing the PH levels of the burn. Although it does have a strong smell, this will soon disappear along with the itching. Either use a spray bottle to apply it to the burnt area or use cotton wool to dab some on your skin.

2. Have a Warm Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal is a great way to neutralize the PH levels of your skin and moisturize your body, making you feel less itchy and uncomfortable. Add ground oatmeal to your bath while the water is running and soak in it for around ten minutes, and do it three times a day. Alternatively, put uncooked oatmeal into a stocking, and place that in the bath with you.

3. Use Diluted Peppermint Oil on the Affected Area

Peppermint oil (not extract) is great for keeping your skin cool if you are itching after tanning. It can be found in most health stores and should be mixed with a vegetable oil to dilute before using. Adults should consider using 10 drops of peppermint oil per ounce of vegetable oil, whereas children and pregnant women should only use 5 drops. Before applying it to the whole burnt area, test it on a small spot to ensure you aren’t allergic. The itching will stop for a short time.

4. Apply Witch Hazel Cream

If you don't want to use hydrocortisone cream, then try the witch hazel cream that contains tannins. This is great for reducing itching, swelling and any painful side effects that you may have after tanning. Apply the cream at least six times a day.

5. Take a Hot Bath

Another way to kill an itch is to take a really hot bath. Turn the temperature of the water up as high as your body can handle (do not burn yourself), and allow your body to soak in the water. This is quite a painful home remedy but it will get rid of the itch. Make sure you stay there for around 30 minutes.

Warning: Home remedies are meant for mild symptoms only. Contact your doctor if you experience blistering, dizziness, infection or fever.

Medications for Treating Itching After Tanning

1. Hydrocortisone

It is a steroid cream that you can buy over the counter to reduce swelling, redness and itching. 5%-1% hydrocortisone is great for calming the skin as it prevents your cells from releasing harmful substances. Use it up to four times a day, and do not use it too often if the sunburn is on your face.

2. Antihistamine

The antihistamine can help reduce swelling and itching as it stops your immune system telling your brain that something is wrong. If you are taking the tablet at night then you can take a tablet that causes extreme drowsiness (like diphenhydramine), which will have the same effect on your body, but will help you sleep better. These are both over-the-counter drugs.

3. Anesthetic

Anesthetic is a good way to numb the pain, as it simply stops the nerve indicators in your body. This comes in a variety of different forms including sprays, creams, gels and ointments. 

4. Steroid Cream

Steroid cream is a kind of prescription drug. It can cause nasty side effects and weaken your immune system, therefore you should only use it if your symptoms are extremely serious.

How to Prevent Itching After Tanning

1. Adjust Your Tanning Time

Itching after tanning tends to happen after the third session and can also occur if your time on the sun bed is too long. Try to tan less than once every other day and make sure you take a few days off if you start to feel itchy or get a rash.

2. Use Tanning and Skincare Products Without Chemical Additives

Dry skin is the most common cause of itching. If you do tan regularly, you'd better use an oil-based or petroleum based moisturizer on a daily basis to help prevent dry skin. Remember to use moisturizers without additives to avoid skin irritation.

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