It’s June, and we’re diving head first into the peak of summer. You might be planning to spend a lot of your time outdoors when the sun is out and the weather is warmer. But while the sun is at its brightest, you could be at a greater risk of scalp sunburn.
While some people remember to put on sunscreen on their arms and back, many more people forget that the scalp is also vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. For this reason, it’s just as important to protect your scalp from sunburn. Protecting your skin against sunburn can help lower your risk of skin cancer (around 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives, and, of those cases, 2% to 18% of skin cancers affect the scalp).
Read on to find out more about scalp sunburns and how you can prevent them.
What does a scalp sunburn feel like?
First of all, you might be wondering what a sunburn feels like in the first place. Like other parts of your body, the scalp can sunburn to differing degrees.
Most sunburns are usually first-degree or second-degree burns. If you get a sunburn on your scalp, you may experience redness, irritation, and swelling. In severe cases, depending on the amount of time you spent in the sun, the scalp can blister. However, these symptoms are usually mild and go away within 3 to 5 days.
While your scalp sunburn is healing, your skin may flake as it repairs itself. Flaking could mimic signs of dandruff and hair loss. But this is usually temporary and should resolve itself within the next week as long as you take care of your scalp.
How to prevent scalp sunburn
High SPF sunscreen
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. They also recommend a sunscreen that’s water resistant so it can last longer. Still, it’s a good idea to reapply sunscreen regularly. If your sunscreen meets these criteria, you’re in better shape to protect your skin against harmful UV rays. Sunscreen is your number one tool to prevent scalp sunburn, so don’t hesitate to lather it on.
Wear a hat
If sun exposure is what causes a sunburn, then covering your skin is one of the best ways to reduce sunburn risks. Wearing a hat can limit your scalp’s exposure to UV rays completely. It’s best to opt for a darker shade hat for better UV protection. A tighter woven fabric is also recommended over other materials like straw, which can let UV rays slip through gaps in the hat.
Treating scalp sunburn
Moisturize and cool
To aid healing, use a moisturizing lotion while the skin is damp. Keeping the scalp moisturized can help prevent excessive peeling and flaking. Using a soothing product like aloe vera can also cool the skin and decrease inflammation. Don’t use a product that is petroleum or oil-based since it can actually make the burn feel worse.
If you’ve been out in the sun for a while, you’ve probably lost some fluid and electrolytes while sweating. Sunburns can also draw fluid to the surface of the skin and cause dehydration. Replenishing electrolytes and drinking plenty of water is one the best ways to ensure your body is getting proper nutrients to heal the skin.
Avoid drying or irritating shampoos
After a scalp sunburn, your skin is likely more sensitive to different products. Shampoos that contain sulfates can dry and irritate the skin. It’s better to use a natural, moisturizing shampoo to help heal the scalp. After shampooing, hot water on a burn can cause discomfort and irritation. Use cool water instead to help reduce pain and irritation.
Protecting your scalp micropigmentation
If you’ve had scalp micropigmentation done, try to use skincare best practices to keep your treatment looking its best. Since UV rays can fade inks faster, sunscreen is one of your best tools for protecting the treatment from fading.
Contact Scalp Micro USA if you have any questions about taking care of your scalp, especially after a treatment session. And remember to wear sunscreen this summer so you don’t burn your scalp.