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Sunburnt scalp: what next?

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Have you ever experienced the discomfort of a sunburnt scalp? Just as overexposure causes damage to other parts of the body, it also poses risks to this area. We know that the sun is both good and bad. In the right measure, it brings many benefits (it fights depression, boosts the immune system, and keeps bones strong) but can also harm us.

The effects vary from person to person, depending on skin type, temperature, exposure time and level of protection. However, everyone who has experienced sunburn at some time recognises its symptoms: a fuzzy red spot, the pain of the burn and sometimes also an unpleasant itch or even the appearance of a blister, which forms in the case of more severe burns.

While trying to avoid getting scalp and hairline burns, it is also essential to know what to do in case these areas get sunburnt. As you can imagine, the scalp and hairline are more complicated to treat because of the hair follicles.

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Symptoms of sunburnt scalp

It burns if the skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) light from sunlight. Any exposed skin can burn, including the scalp. This is what happens when we indulge in bad habits, such as:

  • Do not apply sunscreen before exposure.
  • Applying a sunscreen with too low an SPF index.
  • Do not repeat the application after a certain period.
  • Do not use waterproof sunscreen if you go to the beach or swimming pool.
  • Being in the sun in the central hours of the day.
  • Do not cover your head with caps or hats.

The symptoms of a sunburnt scalp are the same as those of a sunburn elsewhere on the body. Do you recognise them?

  • Reddening
  • Hot or burning sensation to the touch
  • Sensitivity or pain
  • Itching
  • Small fluid-filled ampoules

On the other hand, it is vital to bear in mind that in summer, we sweat more, and this excess perspiration makes the scalp irritated and, therefore, more sensitive. This could worsen the consequences of our exposure to the sun. If the sunburn is severe, it may also be possible to experiment:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Remember that it may take a few hours for the first symptoms of sunburn to appear.

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The importance of avoiding sunburn all over the body

The danger goes far beyond any short-term pain, redness and discomfort because after the sunburn fades, lasting damage remains.

Sunburn accelerates skin ageing and is the leading cause of most cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

What happens when we find sunburnt scalp

It is well known that UV rays harm the skin when proper precautions are not taken. However, it is less known that UV rays also affect the hair. Excessive exposure to UV rays will cause the skin to age, but it is less often noted that the same is true for the hair and scalp.

When exposed to UV rays, the hair cuticles are damaged first. This results in dry and curly hair and tangles due to friction between the strands.

However, the effect on the scalp is even more profound. When the scalp is exposed to UV rays, the cell damage causes the hair to suffer adverse effects, leading to hair loss and thinning.

While hair protects the scalp, as a result of hair loss and loss of hair density, the scalp can become even more exposed to UV rays and suffer even more damage. This becomes a vicious cycle that affects the health and appearance of this area.

How to care for sunburnt scalp

When what you were trying to avoid has happened, and the scalp is sunburnt, it is crucial to apply a series of care measures over the following week. You need to be consistent and remember:

  • Shower with cold or, at most, lukewarm water. Hot water will increase the discomfort of sunburn.
  • Check the ingredients in shampoo and conditioner, as sulphates should be avoided; they can dry the scalp and create further irritation.
  • Also, skip conditioners with dimethicone, which can block pores, trap heat and create more damage. The barrier created by this texturising synthetic silica dries out the skin and encourages bacterial growth.
  • Try to limit the use of hair products and, most importantly, choose only those that contain natural ingredients.
  • Stop using styling and drying tools for the hair. The hair is preferable to be combed and dried naturally to promote healing.
  • Soothe the pain with cold compresses. This will help to reduce the stress on the area.
  • Take special care when moisturising. It is a good idea to gently apply coconut oil and aloe vera gel to the sunburnt scalp to relieve discomfort and promote healing. Lavender is also beneficial.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day is essential to hydrate the skin, especially in summer, when it is necessary to increase the amount and frequency.
  • Cover the area to protect it entirely from the sun. Wear a cap or hat while the scalp is healing.
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Some habits should be followed for a few days until the area recovers. However, it is helpful to think about others that can prevent the consequences of a sunburnt scalp in the future.

Measures to avoid harmful UV rays, which can increase the chances of skin cancer, and enjoy the summer without sunburn on the scalp include:

  • Apply SPF 30 (or higher), which can be found in mists, sprays and light air-like powders to minimise oily roots.
  • Wear sun-protective hats. Flexible, wide-brimmed hats are best.
  • Taking care of your skin and protecting it all year round. Do you know that if you also take care of your skin during the winter and autumn months, you are better protected when it is exposed to radiation?
  • Always choose natural products.

If you decide to eliminate those containing chemicals, you can opt for formulas that include silica, which helps to maintain the health and beauty of skin, nails and hair. For example, you can use Silicium G5 Gel in your routines, as long as you do not have open wounds on your scalp or have not had a significant burn. It is recommended to apply it at night, before going to sleep, leave it to act for more hours, and wash your hair the next day. After a few days, the discomfort of the burns will be reduced.

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