Sunburn Itch From Hell!

This is no regular sunburn itch. This itch is so agonizingly painful, that you would rather rip your skin off than have to deal with it. I’ve had sunburns before, but I swear this was the absolute worst experience ever! I wanted to cry, freak out and scratch my skin off all at once!

Again, let me reiterate: this itch is the worst sunburn itch you’ll ever have – you honestly can’t relate until you’ve gotten it. (And I’m so sorry if you do!) To describe it the best I can, it’s like someone is running knives over your back and once you (regretfully!) scratch the spot, you feel relief for about 2 seconds until the pain comes back and it comes with a vengeance! There are now a hundred little bugs carrying huge daggers running about, setting fire to your skin. It is the most irritating, annoying and painful itch I have ever had on my skin.

I wanted to take a picture of the burn, but I couldn’t get a good picture of my back – although my shoulders did get pretty burnt!

I got sunburned on Sunday and it has been exactly 48 hours since it happened. I’ve seen this all over the internet donned “The Itch From Hell” and a lot of the solutions are prescription lotions or pills. Not only did I not have the time (I couldn’t go a minute without the pain reoccurring) to go to the doctor/pharmacy, I probably wouldn’t be able to get a shirt on long enough without ripping it off and scratching incessantly.

I tried everything: I put on aloe vera gel (made it WAY worse!), tried keeping a cold cloth on the area (once I did this there was some relief but another spot would flare up!), putting ice cubes on my back (basically did nothing). Nothing worked! After about 2 hours of the most unbearable feeling in my life, running up and down the halls, itching, regretting it, screaming and crying, did I start wondering if I was going crazy.

At the very least, I was somewhat lucky; I got this when I got home from work so at least I didn’t have to worry about the pain before or at work.

OKAY. I know if you have this all you want is an answer!

Take a HOT SHOWER! I took about 10 cold showers that would just numb the pain until I got out and the towel irritated it again (or the air, or a stupid piece of hair that kept lightly touching the spot). I took one hot shower for about 10 minutes and it honestly helped.

Having a hot shower when you have a sunburn definitely isn’t going to feel good, but I swear it will help!
If you do have this, I would certainly try this first before you spend the money on the prescriptions. (It’s also a chemical-free option!)

UPDATE: I recently got together with my brother for his birthday at my mom’s house and he shared a story that started very similar to the one above; he experienced the hell itch too! I’ve heard of other people on the internet experiencing it, but I’ve never met someone who’s endured it before! It’s so weird how we both got it within weeks of each other and I’ve never even heard about until this year.

My brother got burnt on his arms and he said he tried everything and went to the pharmacy to get hydrocortisone cream but the pharmacist suggested Benadryl and an anti-itch cream. He got home took the medicine and rubbed the cream in and said it alleviated it for about 30 minutes then the pain would come back. He ended up going back to the pharmacy to get the hydrocortisone and said that calmed it down enough to be bearable.

Hopefully you don’t have this and if you do, hopefully it will help!
Good luck!


77 thoughts on “Sunburn Itch From Hell!

  1. I had hells itch i will let everyone in on my secret rub ur burn with coconut oil omg i am so gratefull we had some i tryed eveything i couldnt sleep for two days i out on the coconut oil and it made everything barable and it really helped


  2. I got “hell’s ich last summer and I thought I was going completely crazy my mom looked it up and found out that this horrible ich is a real she looked up remadees and Vicks cream and a steaming hot shower would help. Putting Vicks cream on was NOT pleasant at all but it worked. I would do anything, I tried hot showers and that worked too. That was iffically the worst think I have ever experenced in my LIFE.It felt like Fire ants were under my skin and biting me. I thought that I was going to die or end up at the ER.The onley thing that works is a HOT shower and VICKS cream


    • Had this problem 2 years ago. Almost got crazy because of that itch. What I found useful was pepermint oil and coconut oil mix. This hell’s burn woke me up at 3am and I was crying… Honestly a 22 years old man crying and scratching his back like insane. I just Googled “hell’s each” and found someone’s note about hot shower and pepermint-coconut oil mix. Since than I carry those two components in my firs aid kit.


  3. I had the same thing a few years ago in Florida. I was at the beach on the second day, when all the sudden it hit. It started off intense, and got worse. I told my wife I have to get out of here. I grabbed all the beach stuff: umberelkas, lawn chairs, life jacket. I took off running to our beach house that we rented. It was maybe a quarter of a mile away. So I am running with all of this in my hands jumping, skipping, shouting. I ran a quarter mile faster than ever. I left my wife and kids in my dust.
    I finally got in the house and tried to scratch the unbelievable itch. It couldn’t be done. I had shingles earlier that year, this was way worse. My wife came inside and attempted to put some sort of cream on me. No relief either. I told her and I quote ” I feel like shouting obscenities!!!”. I took a shower, and that didn’t help either. After about 45 minutes it went away.
    Later that night it came back with a fury. I tried not to wake up the whole house. The only thing that gave me any relief was putting a towel around my neck, just above the shoulders and pulling as hard as I could with both hands. Why that worked, I have no idea. How I came to the conclusion that would help,I had no idea either. I had a 2-3 more episodes like that again that night, and then again the next morning. I used the towel again.
    It’s difficult to describe this itch. It’s not your typical sunburn. I have told people that if I had to go a week or two with it. I would jump off a cliff.


  4. Hey, I know how you feel. Honestly, I’ve had hell’s itch one other time in my life. And that was as a kid. I vaguely remember how it felt too.
    Last Thursday I went swimming. Took my shirt off because I had some sunblock. So I used sunblock once, dried off about an hour later, re applied. I was there for about 5 hours total. So of course, I got carried away, lost track of time, and forgot to keep re applying.
    Came home, noticed my face was burned, no big deal. Started messing around, shirt slipped up a little, and the girlfriend said “uh, babe,lift your shirt again” so I did. My stomach was burned. (First time in my life by the way) She told me to turn around and show her my back. Yep. Burned. ALL over. Man I was regretting life right about then. Because I knew withing 48-72 hours, I’d be in for it.
    48 hours rolled by, and “IT” started. I started counting my blessings and repeatedly yelling at myself for being such an idiot. This time around, I did some research on this damn thing. So I never applied ANYTHING to my back when this itch started. Still haven’t. (I’m peeling now, thank God) When the hell’s itch kicked in at about 2 pm, I was in such discomfort it wasn’t even funny. I couldn’t do ANYTHING. Nothing could begin to keep my mind off the itch. I knew not to scratch it so I was using the sides of my index fingers to rub the spot. If you’ve ever had this shit, it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to not scratch it. You HAVE to do something to it. People who think it’s just an “itch” need to reconsider. This isn’t just an itch. This will make you cry and honestly make you go completely insane. It is the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life. Luckily for me the intense part of it only lasted about 15-20 hours. Then it started subsiding. Still itched like crazy, but definitely NOT the intense pain/sharp shooting itch type.
    But all in all, I found a solution myself. Showers did not work for me, they just set me on fire (not literally) . Benadryl didnt help me at all either. BUT peppermint oil (NOT diluted) helped. But here’s the best way I was able to cope with this shit. Put a decently loose shirt on. And repeatedly move your shoulders up and down. It will “scratch” your back without pissing off your nerve endings that cause that intense itch. It’s worth a try. And it’s literally the easiest to do. But the hardest to do, is to NOT scratch it. It’s literally impossible.
    My conclusion is simply this. Wear sunblock if you absolutely have to go without a shirt. If you get hell’s itch, it’s probably because you’re burning too easily or not meant to tan that well. Who cares how tan you are. It’s better to be pale as hell, than to ever have hell’s itch. From now on, I’m keeping my shirt on outside. Forget the sunblock. I won’t expose myself anymore. Lesson learned


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