Sunburn happens to the best of us, but it’s especially bad when it happens on your head. Learn how to treat a sunburned scalp with these 5 remedies.

When you have a bald or shaved head, you’re naturally more susceptible to sunburn than you would be with a full head of hair. Without hair to shield your scalp from the sun, its harmful rays may leave an uncomfortable burn. Sunburns vary in severity, and while some may be easily treated with simple at-home remedies, others could require more involved care.

Whether you ended up out in the sun for longer than expected, or simply forgot to apply sunscreen one day, sunburns happen to the best of us. But, given that no one should have to suffer from sunburn for long, what are good ways to treat sunburn on a bald head? We’ll explore the answer to that question right here in this article so that you can get relief from a painfully burnt scalp.

What Happens When You Get a Burnt Scalp?

We’ve all gotten sunburned at one point or another, even those who are diligent about applying sunscreen. But, you may not have gotten a sunburn on your scalp before. The skin on your scalp is different from the skin on the rest of your body because it’s much thicker. Additionally, there’s more blood flow to your scalp than to other areas of your body. So, a scalp sunburn may very well feel different from sunburns that you’ve had in the past, although the symptoms will likely be virtually the same.

When you have a scalp sunburn, you may experience:

  • Pain and sensitivity

  • Skin reddening

  • Scalp feeling hot to the touch

  • Blisters or sores

When a sunburn is very severe, its symptoms may become similar to those of sun poisoning, which can include headaches, nausea, and fatigue. If you feel severe symptoms, it’s important to rest, find an effective topical treatment, and consider receiving care from a doctor. Sun poisoning requires immediate attention and isn’t something to be ignored.

How to Treat a Sunburned Scalp

A sunburned scalp typically feels uncomfortable and painful, although it depends on the degree of the burn. The good news is that there are plenty of effective treatment options to speed the healing process of your sunburn and reduce discomfort.

  • Aloe

how to treat a sunburned scalp

Aloe is one of the most well known and widely recommended treatments for sunburn. The aloe vera plant is anti-inflammatory, so it’s often effective at easing redness, swelling, and irritation at the site of the burn. In addition, aloe vera aids in skin healing because it contains polysaccharides. This ingredient is known to speed the growth of new skin cells, which will help repair the skin that was damaged by the burn.

When looking for an aloe product to heal your scalp sunburn, seek out a 100% pure aloe vera gel. The Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel is one excellent option that will help soothe your burnt skin. It’s made using freshly cut aloe leaves grown in Southern Texas. This aloe vera gel is entirely pure, which makes it stronger and more effective than other options on the market. Plus, the cold-pressed formula creates an easy-to-apply gel that won’t feel sticky on your scalp.

  • Moisturizer with Calamine or Soy

If aloe isn’t up your alley, try out a moisturizer that contains soy or calamine. Soy has been shown to ease pain and discomfort from burns, while calamine is an itch-relieving ingredient. Calamine lotion may most effectively help treat sunburn in the later stages of healing when the skin begins to peel.  Calamine lotion is also quite inexpensive, especially when compared to some pure aloe vera products.

  • Ibuprofen

For sunburns that are severe and painful, consider taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or aspirin. These medications will reduce pain and swelling, which may help you get through the day with less irritation. Plus, by reducing the inflammation, these products can help speed the healing process for your burn.

  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

hydrate your skin

To help the healing process of your scalp sunburn, drink plenty of water, even more than you usually would. Staying extra hydrated when you’re suffering from sunburn is essential because the burn pulls fluid to the surface of your skin. So, your body will require extra water to function properly and support the healing of your burn. Also, remember to drink extra water whenever you spend time in the sun, as the exposure can cause you to become dehydrated more quickly than usual.

  • Take a Cool Shower

Taking a shower in low temperature water can reduce pain and irritation from a scalp sunburn. After you step out of the shower, gently pay your scalp dry with a clean towel and immediately apply a moisturizer. With your pores open from the shower, it’s the best time to moisturize, and your skin will more readily absorb it.

Treating a Peeling Scalp from Sunburn

Scalp peeling is an issue that many bald people struggle with, and sunburn is one of its main causes. Depending on the severity of your sunburn, peeling can be quite uncomfortable. Some individuals may also feel insecure with the appearance of a peeling scalp, so it’s important to find a solution that works for you.

Peeling generally occurs after a sunburn has begun to heal as the dead, damaged skin sheds itself to make room for new, healthy skin. A peeling scalp from sunburn is often accompanied by itchiness, which can be highly uncomfortable.

The best way to treat a scalp that’s peeling from a burn is to apply a soothing lotion often, especially after you get out of the shower. After a hot shower, your pores are open and will more readily absorb whatever you apply to it. As aforementioned, calamine lotion is an excellent option for itch relief and can be found at any drugstore.

When your scalp is peeling, you may also want to take a look at the shampoo that you’re using. A shampoo that’s designed to manage dandruff can work to treat peeling from a burn. Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is a top-rated shampoo that’s formulated for sensitive scalps. It contains 1% Ketoconazole, an ingredient to treat itchiness, scaling, and flaking.  

What If My Sunburn Blisters?

When scalp sunburns are particularly severe, you may experience blistering. Blisters generally occur with second and third-degree burns. While a first-degree sunburn only affects the top layer of the skin, more severe burns cause damage to deeper layers in the skin. Blisters may show up right away when you get a scalp sunburn, but it can also take a full day for them to become visible.

A blistering sunburn may require medical attention, so consider making an appointment with your doctor or heading to an urgent care center. For at-home treatment, apply pure aloe vera gel, drink a lot of water, and consider taking anti-inflammatories. Also, be sure to stay out of the sun until the burn and blisters have fully healed.

How to Prevent Scalp Sunburn

You need more than just a great pair of sunglasses before heading outside on a hot, sunny day. Protecting your scalp from sunburn is a must when you have a bald or shaved head. Plus, maintaining a healthy, glowing scalp is possibly the best way to look great with a bald head. The sun’s UVB rays are extremely harsh to our skin and you may be setting yourself up for long-term skin damage by spending long periods of time in the sun without protection.

Below you’ll find the main methods to protect your scalp from the sun. It’s a good idea to have multiple options of sunburned scalp treatment available to you, given that every day is different and your needs are always shifting.

  • Sunscreen

The best way to prevent sunburn is, of course, sunscreen! If you’re new to being bald, it may take some time to get used to applying sunscreen directly to your scalp. Try to incorporate it into your morning skincare routine to simplify this adjustment.

When selecting a sunscreen, the big question is always how high of an SPF to go for. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher. This provides a good rule of thumb to abide by when you’re deciding between the many sunscreens available today. Also, look for sunscreens marked as providing broad-spectrum protection. These creams will protect your scalp against both UVA and UVB rays for a complete shield from sun damage.

  • Moisturizer with SPF

Instead of a straight-up sunscreen, you may prefer to apply a moisturizer that contains SPF. The benefit of this type of product is that you can incorporate it into your regular skincare routine, combining the need to moisturize and the need to apply SPF into one. You can use your favorite facial moisturizer with SPF on your scalp, or find a product that’s made specifically for bald heads.

  • Head Coverings

For a layer of protection against the sun, consider wearing a head covering. Hats, head scarves, turbans, etc. will shield your scalp from the sun and protect you from sunburn. While you may not choose to wear a head covering all the time, it may be helpful to do so when you spend most of the day outside (such as when you’re at the beach, on a hike, etc.) and would have to reapply sunscreen multiple times.

  • Limit Direct Sun Exposure

It’s unfortunate, but true: some people simply burn more easily than others. If you have skin that’s particularly sensitive to the sun, be aware that long periods of exposure could cause irritation. If you know that you’ll be outside for a long time on a sunny day, bring a hat along with you, keep sunscreen in your bag, and try to take occasional breaks from the sun when you can. Head indoors for 20 minutes or so every few hours, or find a spot of shade to hang out under. Whatever your strategy, it’s important to do what will make you the most comfortable and prevent skin damage.


Sun protection becomes all the more important when you have a bald head. With your scalp exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays every single time that you step out into the sun, you have to be conscientious with your skincare routine, ensuring that it includes a great quality sunscreen. But, we all slip up every now and then, and you may experience a burnt scalp at some point. So, remember that there are sunburned scalp treatment options to speed up healing and make you feel as good as new in no time!