What is Hell's Itch? 7 Ways to Treat Severe Sunburn

What is Hell's Itch? 7 Ways to Treat Severe Sunburn

As the blazing sun holds the world in a grip, this summer is not just about record-breaking temperatures and stifling heat waves. For us, it's a silent, unacknowledged crisis as we stand on the precipice of an escalating skin health emergency. We're not just weathering an extreme heatwave but battling an invisible and insidious enemy - the ever-looming threat of sunburn. 

What is Hell's Itch?

Hell's Itch, known as 'sunburn itch' or 'fire ant itch', is no ordinary sunburn. It's a severe post-sunburn condition that transcends the typical discomfort associated with sunburn, unleashing an excruciating, deep itch that gives the sensation of skin crawling.

Unlike most sunburns that cause mild to moderate pain, Hell's Itch is a marathon of torment. It usually sets 24 to 72 hours after sun exposure and doesn't merely flash and fade. This relentless itch can last from hours to days, and in extreme cases, even up to two weeks, significantly disrupting daily life.

At the heart of sunburns and severe conditions like Hell's Itch are the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types: UVA and UVB. UVA rays cause premature ageing, but the UVB rays cause sunburn and can potentially trigger Hell's Itch. 

Common Locations for Hell's Itch

Hell's Itch strikes in areas frequently exposed to the sun, with its discomfort varying from one region to another. Let's take a closer look at the specific locations that are often affected:

Back and Shoulders

These areas often bear the brunt of Hell's Itch. Due to their size and position can be difficult to protect adequately and are often overlooked during sunblock application. They also have thicker skin, which allows the sun's UVB rays to penetrate deeper, causing severe sunburn and potentially triggering Hell's Itch.


Like the back and shoulders, the chest is typically exposed during outdoor summer activities and can fall victim to severe sunburn, leading to Hell's Itch. 

Arms and Legs

These limbs are frequently exposed to the sun, especially during summer activities like hiking or swimming. As a result, they are prone to sunburn and, in turn, Hell's Itch.

How to Cure Hell's Itch

Alleviating the torment of Hell's Itch requires a multi-faceted approach, combining home remedies and specialised treatments. Here are seven strategies to soothe and combat this severe sunburn condition:

Cool Showers or Baths

Providing temporary relief, cool showers or baths can help soothe inflamed skin.

Over-the-Counter Antihistamines

These medicines can help reduce the itching sensation. Always follow the package directions or consult with a healthcare professional before use.


Drinking plenty of water can help keep the skin hydrated from within, which can aid in the healing process.

Use Skin-Rejuvenating Products

Tonik's Vitamin C Skin Refiner contains Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that promotes collagen synthesis, helping to heal the skin and even skin tone. It also contains Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel, known for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.


Adequate sleep and rest are crucial for healing. Your body regenerates more efficiently when at rest.

Avoid Further Sun Exposure

Until your skin has fully healed, protecting it from further damage is crucial by avoiding direct sun exposure.

Apply a Moisturiser and Hydrating Serum

Healthy skin hydration is crucial in the healing process of Hell's Itch, as it can help reduce inflammation and promote skin regeneration.

What Not to Do with Hell's Itch

As you navigate the healing process of Hell's Itch, knowing what to avoid is as important as knowing what to do. Here are several common mistakes or actions that could potentially exacerbate this condition:

Scratching the Skin

While scratching may provide momentary relief, it can worsen the itch and potentially lead to skin infections.

Perfumed or Alcohol-based Products

It can dry the skin and intensify the itch. It's recommended to use fragrance-free products like Tonik's Universal Restorative Balm to keep skin moisturised.

Applying Heat

Despite some internet claims, applying heat to a severe sunburn can further damage the skin and prolong healing.

Ignoring Hydration

Dehydration can worsen skin conditions, so drink plenty of water and use hydrating products like Tonik's Bio Moisture Boost Serum.

Avoiding Sunscreen

Neglecting a high SPF sunscreen after experiencing Hell's Itch can lead to further skin damage and prolonged recovery.


Physical activities that cause sweating can exacerbate the itch and hinder healing.

Don't Get Burned

As we bask in the scorching summer sun, the importance of diligent skincare cannot be understated. With the right knowledge, preventive measures, and therapeutic strategies, it's a condition we can effectively manage. T

ake time to care for your skin, not just during a heatwave but every day. And remember, the best defence against Hell's Itch is prevention – always protect your skin from excessive sun exposure!