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How to Treat & Heal a Sunburned Scalp

When summer season comes, it's time for baldies to enjoy the outdoors. Being bald doesn't mean you can't go out and enjoy the sun. But now that your scalp is fully exposed to the sun, there's an increased risk of sunburn.

If you're one of those baldies who just got burned and are looking for ways to treat a sunburned scalp, you've come to the right place. We'll also learn how to prevent scalp sunburn, which is the best thing you can do for your bald head.

How Do You Know If You Have a Sunburned Scalp?

When you have a sunburned scalp you'll surely feel discomfort just like getting sunburned on other parts of the body. However, the pain may be elevated since our scalps are more sensitive.

Other notable symptoms of a sunburned scalp include:

  • redness

  • tender scalp

  • scalp itching

  • flaking

  • scaling

  • burning sensation

  • yellow or white patches

  • pus-filled bumps

How to Treat and Heal a Sunburned Scalp

Summer can be an exciting season, but many baldies spend too much time exposed to the sun without the proper protection.

If you've been burned, here are the best ways to treat your scalp:

Cool it down

bald man applying water to head

One of the first things you should do for a sunburned scalp is to cool it down. Cooling your scalp with a cool water shower and applying a cold compress afterward will relieve your burnt scalp. Applying cool compresses throughout the day helps hasten healing and reduce inflammation.

Avoid putting ice directly on your scalp, as this can worsen the damage. When drying your head, pat your scalp gently to dry and avoid rubbing, as this may irritate your scalp.

Avoid heat

Heat is the enemy of sunburned skin. Avoid taking hot showers while treating your sunburned scalp.

Avoid harsh chemicals

bald man using hair products in bathtub

Our scalp becomes overly sensitive from sunburn. The last thing you'd want is exposure to harsh chemicals that may worsen your symptoms.

Use gentle cleansers and shampoo while staying clear from scalp care products that contain sulfates, parabens, and artificial fragrances. You must also avoid products that contain alcohol. They will sting and cause dryness, which we want to avoid.

Apply pain relief creams

You can apply over-the-counter topical creams for pain relief if the pain is unbearable. You can also use aspirin or ibuprofen to soothe pain and inflammation.

Apply Aloe Vera gel

Aloe vera gel is your best friend when you have a sunburned scalp. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help heal and keep your skin hydrated.

Apply hydrocortisone cream

A 0.1% over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream applied once a day is great for treating itching, swelling, and irritation.

Stay hydrated

bald man drinking water

Hydrating our body will help our scalp skin heal faster. Our bodies become dehydrated during a burn, so we need more water and electrolytes.

Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily will help treat scalp sunburn and should be a regular practice for overall health.

Avoid tight-fitting clothes

For the time being, avoid wearing tight hats and headbands. Opt for loose-fitting headwear with breathable fabric for airflow.

How Long Before a Scalp Sunburn Heals?

The healing process for scalp sunburn may take 3 to 7 days, depending on the severity of the burn. Mild burns may heal in a few days, while more serious ones may take longer. The key is letting your scalp heal properly and following the treatment steps.

If your scalp is still in pain after about a week of home treatment, contact a board-certified dermatologist for advice.

As your scalp heals, you may notice it drying or flaking. This is normal and should not be mistaken for dandruff. Avoid using anti-dandruff shampoo and scrubbing your scalp to remove the flakes. Your scalp will return to normal in time.

When to See a Doctor?

With proper treatment, most scalp sunburns can be treated at home. However, if you notice the following symptoms, you must consult a medical provider at once:

  • Nausea

  • Swelling on your scalp

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Confusion

  • Headache

  • Scalp blisters with pus

  • Fatigue

  • Scalp infection

The Best Ways to Protect Your Scalp From the Sun

As they always say, prevention is better than cure. Sunburn is not just painful but also increases the risk of skin cancer. As baldies, we should take sun damage seriously. Here are the best ways to protect your scalp from sunburn.

Applying Sunscreen

bald man applying sunscreen

Applying sunscreen before you go out should be part of your grooming routine. Our bald heads are more prone to scalp sunburns because of less hair covering.

An SPF 30 or higher scalp sunscreen should always be part of your grooming kit. Look for one that's specifically formulated for scalps for the best results.

Remember to reapply after a few hours, especially if you're sweating or swimming, as it loses effectiveness as time passes.

Wearing Hats

bald man wearing hat outdoors

A sun-protective hat adds style to your bald look and gives constant protection from harmful UV rays. Applying sunscreen and wearing UPF-rated sun hats is an excellent one-two punch that can provide the best sun protection and keep your scalp covered.

A wide-brimmed hat is a good style since it covers a larger area, including your face and ears.

Staying indoors

bald man watching movies at home

It may be time to binge on that Netflix series you've always wanted to watch. Staying indoors, especially during the hottest time of day, is an easy way to prevent a sunburned scalp. If you can avoid the hours of 10 am to 4 pm, that would be ideal.

Resting under a shade outdoors

bald man staying under a tree at the park

If you need to go out under the intense heat, taking a break under shade can lessen the chance of scalp burn. Staying under that big umbrella on the beach may be a good idea. If you're staying at the park, a pop-up tent, an awning, or a large tree can provide the extra shade you need.

The Bottom Line

Too much sun exposure during the summer is a normal occurrence for baldies.

Scalp sunburn is painful and can lead to serious problems like skin cancer. While most sunburned scalps can be treated at home, you must consult your doctor if you notice more serious symptoms.

Staying proactive and using sun protection against harmful UV rays is the best way to prevent sunburn and enjoy your stay outdoors.

By following our tips, you can be sure to have a healthy and protected scalp all summer long.


What is the best product for a sunburned scalp?

Aloe vera gel is a champion in sunburned scalp treatment. It can be applied several times daily to help relieve and heal the scalp faster.

How do you heal a burn on your scalp fast?

Applying cool water, cold compresses, and aloe vera gel and avoiding hot water are some ways to help heal your sunburn quickly.

Should I wash my sunburned scalp?

You can wash your sunburned scalp as long as you avoid products that contain harsh chemicals and refrain from using hot water while your scalp is healing. Pat dry gently once you're done, and avoid scrubbing your sensitive scalp.

How long does a sunburned scalp take to heal?

A sunburned scalp takes about a week to heal. By applying our tips above, you can hasten the healing process.

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