Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays leads to sunburned skin. We typically think of our back, chest, arms, and chest when thinking about sunburned skin. One place we seriously ignore often might be the one worst off if indeed it gets sunburned: our scalp.
A sunburned scalp is just as inconvenient as a sunburned upper body. And with an added dose of anxiety in the mix as well. Many patients who love going to the beach ask us often, “Can a sunburned scalp hurt your hair?”
Let’s get some facts straight, so we can answer that.
Sunburned Scalp and Your Hair
Even if you have a headful of hair, your scalp can still get sunburned. Of course, the thicker the hair, the better. That leaves thinning-hair patients more exposed to the effects the sun can have on their head and hair.
A scalp overexposed to ultraviolet rays gets its tissues damaged. When this happens, the body sends blood rushing to the site to repair it, which leads to swelling. After around a week, the skin starts peeling to get rid of the damaged skin cells. The skin falls like flakes and might itch.
Thus, a sunburned scalp has some symptoms common with a dandruff-affected scalp as we can see. But it’s important to never use anti-dandruff shampoo on a sunburned scalp. This will only make the dryness of it worse.
Regarding your hair, in particular, a sunburned scalp doesn’t hurt your hair directly. Rather, your hair gets also dry from sun exposure, which leaves it brittle and easy to break. That is the actual reason why there’s some hair loss accompanying sunburned scalps. Yet the latter is not the cause of the former.
Furthermore, the itchiness might compel you to scratch the site repeatedly to soothe yourself. That indeed can also cause hair loss, but it is just your reaction to a symptom and not a symptom itself.
Sunburned Scalp Care
A sunburned scalp might cause hair loss itself, but it is in your best interest that it regains health so your hair can look its best again. Do the following.
- Only use cold water. If you like hot showers, give them a rest. Wash it with cold water until it heals.
- Use cold compresses. Control the swelling and itching by applying cold compresses throughout the day.
- Moisturise the skin. Apply coconut only on the scalp. Massage it around when applying and leave it on for absorption.
- Don’t touch the blisters. In case your sunburned scalp also developed blisters, don’t touch them. Don’t even apply moisturiser. Put it around the blisters. Blisters heal on their own in time.
- Avoid the sun. You won’t want more of that for a while. If you have to go outside, use a hat that is not tight but very breathable.
In a matter of weeks, your scalp will be back to health, and with it the hair you so much treasure looking great again.