How Long Does Tanning Itch Last?

How Long Does Tanning Itch Last
Understand tanning itch and how to manage it to enjoy the sun’s warmth and achieve the desired sun-kissed glow without itching.

Soaking up the sun and achieving that perfect tan can be a delightful experience, but it’s not uncommon for many individuals to experience a common side effect of tanning itch. While tanning itch and sunburn itch share similarities, they differ in their underlying causes and severity. Sunburn itch is often more intense and may be accompanied by redness, blistering, and peeling skin. Tanning itch, on the other hand, is typically milder and manifests as general itchiness without severe skin damage. This pesky itchiness can take away some of the joy of tanning, leaving people wondering how long it will last.

Generally, tanning itch may last for a few hours to a week. But what people can do to alleviate the discomfort? In this write-up, I’ll help you to explore the causes of tanning itch, its duration, and practical tips to manage and soothe irritated skin. I hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable insights into the duration and management of tanning itch. Everyone’s experience with tanning itch may vary, and it’s important to listen to your body and adapt the tips and remedies that work best for you.

Tanning Itch and Its Causes

Tanning itch and its causes

Tanning itch, also known as “pruritus,” is an uncomfortable sensation of itching that occurs after exposing the skin to the sun or tanning beds. It is a common side effect of tanning and can affect individuals with various skin types and sensitivity levels. The itchiness is usually the body’s response to the skin’s healing process.

Tanning itch can occur due to several reasons. One of the primary factors is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can lead to skin dryness and dehydration. UV rays can cause the skin to lose moisture, disrupt its natural barrier function, and trigger an inflammatory response, resulting in itching sensations.

Additionally, prolonged exposure to the sun or tanning beds can lead to sunburn, which is another common cause of tanning itch. Sunburn damages the skin, causing inflammation and irritation that contribute to itching.

How Long Does Tanning Itch Last?

The duration of tanning itch can vary from person to person, and it depends on several factors, including individual sensitivity and the severity of the sunburn or skin irritation. Typically, tanning itch may last for a few days to a week, but it can persist longer in some cases. There are various types of itching that can last different time durations, such as:

  1. Acute itch: Acute itch refers to the immediate itchiness experienced after tanning. It is a short-lived sensation that typically subsides within a few hours.
  2. Short-term itch: Short-term itch may persist for a few hours to a few days after tanning. During this phase, the skin is in the process of recovering from sun exposure and may continue to feel mildly itchy.
  3. Persistent itch: In some cases, tanning itch can last beyond a week, becoming more chronic in nature. This may be due to factors such as underlying skin conditions, excessive scratching, or prolonged inflammation.

Factors Affecting Tanning Itch Duration

Tanning itch occurs for several factors that trigger the itching. The factors are as next:

Factors affecting tanning itch duration
  • Skin type and sensitivity: Different skin types may react differently to tanning, and individuals with more sensitive skin may experience more prolonged itching. Fair-skinned individuals or those with a history of skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis may be more prone to tanning itch.
  • Intensity and duration of sun exposure: The longer and more intense the exposure to UV radiation, the greater the chances of experiencing tanning itch. Spending excessive time under the sun or using high-intensity tanning beds can increase the risk and severity of itchiness.
  • Use of tanning beds or artificial tanning methods: Tanning beds and artificial tanning methods emit concentrated UV radiation, which can lead to more severe skin irritation and itchiness. The use of certain tanning lotions, oils, or chemicals may also cause allergic reactions and intensify tanning itch.
  • Allergic reactions or photosensitivity: Some individuals may have allergies or be more photosensitive, making them more susceptible to tanning itch. Allergic reactions to tanning products, including ingredients like fragrances or preservatives, can trigger itchiness.
  • Sunscreen or tanning oil formulations: Certain sunscreen or tanning oil formulations, especially those containing harsh chemicals or fragrances, can irritate the skin and cause itching. Opting for hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic products can help reduce the risk of tanning itch.

12 Tips to Manage and Alleviate Tanning Itch

Tanning is great when it suits you properly. If not, then itching will appear and bother you and remove your happiness. So here are some tips to manage and alleviate tanning itch which will help you to enjoy your tanning.

Tips to manage and alleviate tanning itch
  1. Cold compresses or cool showers: Applying a cold compress or taking cool showers can help soothe the skin and reduce itching sensations.
  2. Hydrating and soothing lotions: Applying moisturizers or lotions with ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile can provide relief by hydrating and calming the skin.
  3. Refrain from scratching: Although scratching may provide temporary relief, it can further damage the skin and prolong the itching. Try to resist the urge to scratch and instead opt for gentle patting or tapping on the itchy areas.
  4. Loose-fitting clothing and breathable fabrics: Wearing loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton can help prevent friction and irritation, allowing the skin to breathe.
  5. Topical corticosteroids or hydrocortisone creams: Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help reduce inflammation and itching. However, it’s essential to follow the instructions and avoid long-term use without medical supervision.
  6. Antihistamines for allergic reactions: If tanning itch is accompanied by allergic symptoms like hives or swelling, oral antihistamines can provide relief by blocking histamine release and reducing itching.
  7. Aloe vera gel: The cooling and soothing properties of aloe vera make it a popular natural remedy for various skin irritations, including tanning itch. Applying pure aloe vera gel can provide immediate relief.
  8. Oatmeal baths: Adding colloidal oatmeal to lukewarm bathwater and soaking in it can help calm and moisturize the skin, reducing itching and inflammation.
  9. Chamomile tea compresses: Brewing chamomile tea, chilling it in the refrigerator, and applying it to the affected areas with a clean cloth can offer relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  10. Seek medical advice if Itch persists for an extended period: If the tanning itch continues for more than a week or becomes severe and unbearable, it is advisable to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying conditions or infections.
  11. Symptoms worsen or spread: If the itching worsens, becomes accompanied by severe pain, or spreads to other parts of the body, it may indicate a more significant issue that requires medical evaluation.
  12. Signs of infection appear: If the skin becomes red, swollen, warm to the touch, or develops pus-filled blisters, it could be a sign of an infection. In such cases, medical intervention is necessary.

5 Preventive Measures for Tanning Itch

Prevention is key when it comes to tanning itch. Taking proper protective measures to protect your skin can help minimize the risk of sunburn and subsequent itching.

Preventive measures for tanning itch
  1. Gradual exposure to sunlight: Instead of prolonged and intense sun exposure, it is recommended to gradually expose your skin to the sun. Start with shorter periods and increase the time gradually, allowing your skin to adapt and minimize the risk of tanning itch.
  2. Limiting sun exposure during peak hours: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is advisable to limit your tanning sessions during these peak hours to reduce the intensity of UV radiation and potential skin irritation.
  3. Proper use of sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) before tanning. Make sure to reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating. This helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays and reduces the risk of sunburn and tanning itch.
  4. Hydration and nutrition: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy skin. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after tanning to keep your skin hydrated. Additionally, consuming a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals supports overall skin health.
  5. Alternatives to direct sun tanning: Consider sunless tanning alternatives like self-tanning lotions, sprays, or salon treatments. These provide a bronzed appearance without exposing the skin to UV radiation, reducing the risk of tanning itch.

If you have persistent or severe tanning itch that doesn’t improve with at-home remedies or lasts longer than expected, it’s advisable to consult a dermatologist. They can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend specific treatments, and address any underlying concerns.

Post-Tanning Skincare Routine

There is a skincare routine that you can follow to avoid tanning itch after a tan. These are:

Post tanning skincare routine
  • Gentle cleansing: After tanning, gently cleanse your skin with a mild cleanser to remove any residue or sweat. Avoid harsh soaps or exfoliants that can further irritate the skin.
  • Moisturizing: Immediately after cleansing, apply a hydrating moisturizer to lock in moisture and nourish the skin. Look for products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides to replenish the skin’s barrier.
  • Exfoliation: Exfoliating the skin once or twice a week can help remove dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores. However, be gentle and avoid over-exfoliating, as it can lead to dryness and further irritation.
  • Healing and repairing products: If you experience tanning itch or sunburn, using products with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber extract, or vitamin E can aid in healing and repairing damaged skin.

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When to Avoid Tanning?

If you have the following mentioned symptoms or problems, then it will be better to avoid tanning and the after-effect of tanning such as itching.

  • Individuals with photosensitivity or sun allergy: If you have a known sensitivity to sunlight or a history of sun allergies, it is best to avoid prolonged sun exposure or artificial tanning methods to prevent severe skin reactions.
  • Certain medications and medical conditions: Some medications, such as antibiotics or topical retinoids, can increase skin sensitivity to UV radiation. Consult with your healthcare provider or dermatologist about the potential risks before tanning. Individuals with certain medical conditions like lupus or skin cancer should also avoid tanning.
  • High-risk skin cancer groups: Individuals with a family history of skin cancer, fair skin, numerous moles, or a personal history of skin cancer are at higher risk. It is crucial for them to protect their skin from excessive sun exposure and opt for safer alternatives to tanning.
  • Pre-existing skin conditions: If you have pre-existing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis, sun exposure or tanning can exacerbate these conditions and lead to increased itching and irritation. Consult with a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.


1. Is it normal to be itchy after tanning?

Yes. Tanning booths and beds can cause people to develop a rash. The itching and bumps you notice may be caused by too much UV light exposure. Your skin also could be sensitive to chemicals used to clean tanning beds or ingredients in cosmetics or lotions.

2. What does a tanning rash look like?

The rash usually appears as tiny, inflamed bumps or slightly raised patches of skin. The reaction usually happens during spring and early summer when exposure to sunlight increases. It’s less likely to be repeated as the summer progresses. But the rash often happens again each year after the first time.

3. Does skin tan go away on its own?

Yes, a tan will naturally fade away due to the exfoliation of our skin. It may not be the nicest thing to think about, but the human skin sheds and then generates millions of cells every day. When the tanned skin cells are replaced with new, untanned skin cells, your body will gradually return to its normal color.

4. Is Vaseline good for itchy skin?

Gently rub Vaseline Jelly onto dry, itchy skin to deeply moisturize and help alleviate itchiness. Your skin will look smoother and feel healthier.

5. Am I allergic to tanning?

A sign that you may be having a reaction to self-tan is your skin feeling extremely irritated or itchy after application. This can occur instantly or a few hours after you apply it when your skin has adjusted. You may also notice that your skin is drier than usual, resulting in you itching more.

Final Thoughts

Tanning itch can be an unpleasant side effect of sun exposure or tanning beds, but it is usually a temporary condition that can be managed and alleviated. Additionally, always prioritize sun safety by taking necessary precautions to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. This includes wearing sunscreen, seeking shade during peak hours, and using appropriate clothing and accessories like hats and sunglasses.

By understanding the causes and factors affecting tanning itch, as well as implementing preventive measures and following a proper skincare routine, you can minimize discomfort and promote healthier, well-nourished skin. Remember to listen to your body, seek medical advice when necessary, and prioritize sun safety to enjoy a beautiful tan without unwanted itch.

Key Points

  • Tanning itch, also known as “pruritus,” is a common symptom that occurs as a result of skin damage from excessive sun exposure accompanied by sunburn.
  • Place a cool, damp cloth on the affected area to soothe the skin and reduce itching.
  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer or aloe vera gel to keep the skin hydrated and relieve dryness.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the affected areas and use sunscreen with a high SPF when going outside.
  • Oral antihistamines or topical creams containing hydrocortisone can help reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Avoid hot water as it can further irritate the skin and increase itching and adding colloidal oatmeal to your bathwater can provide relief from itching.
  • A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

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