Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sunburn fire ant hell itch

So, you stupidly forgot the sunscreen. Again. And now you're burnt, excellent.

As if getting about painfully looking like a crustacean wasn't bad enough, if you're like me, you also live in fear of SUNBURN FIRE ANT HELL ITCH.

This itch is unlike ANYTHING ELSE. It makes me want to rip my skin off using rusty razors, to put it lightly. At first I thought I was going crazy, I've been burnt before and never experienced anything like it til I was in my 20's. My mum just says I'm dramatizing for attention (thanks mum!) and no one I know has experienced it.

But thanks to the wonders of the online world, and the human race's desire to share personal information, I quickly discovered I wasn't alone, that others had or were experiencing the sheer torture of a deep, intense and all consuming itch which cannot be satisfied after being sunburnt.

For those out there who have never experienced this sensation, count your blessings. It is truly a horrific itch. Cooling the burn, moisturing it and all general sunburn remedies just seem to aggravate it even more. It's a deep itch, which hits in intense bursts and it literally feels like you have fire ants crawling under your skin & itching only seems to piss them off further. It sends the sufferer into a demonic state of helplessness as they struggle to cope with the itch which prevails through all numbing, cooling and moisturizing remedies.

I remember one instance in particular which was so bad I almost called an ambulance. This is how bad it can be. I was home alone and going out of mind, crying, rolling around on my bed screaming for relief. Constantly rubbing ice on my burns, applying aloe non stop, numbing agents, stone cold showers, anything to stop the burn. I started slapping the burn, because the painful sting was better than the itch. After 2 or so hours of this frantic and crazy behavior I started thinking, "this is NOT normal, something is seriously wrong. I've either lost my mind or I am having a severe allergic reaction to something". It got SO bad at one point I was contemplating scratching my skin with sharp items, because anything else had to be better than this hell itch. I called my partner and he said to hold out for another hour, if it was still as bad as it was now, that he would leave work and take me to the hospital. Dramatic I know, but I was inconsolable and NOTHING was working. I felt like the only relief would be to knock me out. With that in mind I started contemplating taking strong pain killers and drinking myself to sleep with tequila. I'd been googling all night trying to find a cure and was at my wits end. If there was a cure that required you to rip off your toenails with a a rusty chisel and then eat them, I would have done it in a heart beat. I was about to give up and call my partner back when I found a strange suggestion THAT WORKED.

I know it sounds weird, but a BOILING HOT SHOWER was the only thing that worked! At first I was terrified it would make it worse, especially since I'd spent hours trying to take the heat out of my skin which so many sunburn treatments are designed to do. But I was past desperate. HELLO? I was contemplating drugging myself and going to hospital.

I VERY hesitantly got in the shower and turned up the heat. The suggestion said to have the shower as hot as you can possibly stand. At first it hurt, but usually by the time sunburn starts to itch, the skin is already healed and hot water won't cause any further damage. I stood there, tears streaming down my face as I turned up the heat. Within moments, the itch stopped. I turned up the hot water as high as I could stand, and stayed in there for at least 15 minutes.

I very gently patted myself dry with a towel, doing everything I could to avoid further aggravation. THE ITCH HAD GONE. I quickly took 2 strong pain killers and went to bed straight away, hoping I'd fall asleep before the itch had a chance to return.

I woke the next morning with a worrying tingle that singled fire ant hell itch was returning. I ran to the bathroom and had another hot shower. Again, it worked. For hours. I had hot showers every 4 or so hours for about a day & by then, I'd begun to peel & the itch returned to 'normal' sunburn itch.

This bazaar remedy is the only thing that helped. Years later I stupidly got burnt again quite badly. Boiling hot shower again. Fire ant hell itch stopped in its tracks again.

Since this torturous night, I've been burnt maybe twice since over the last 3 years. So stupid! But I'm currently 2 days out from the latest bout of sunburn and the itch is currently at bay, thanks to boiling hot shower this morning. But it's definitely there, when I scratch it aggravates it and I run into the shower faster than speedy Gonzalez. But ANOTHER STRANGE REMEDY I discovered today is to blast the itchy skin with the hair dryer.


I hope this helps someone who finds themselves in the state I was in years ago. A boiling hot shower, as hot as you can stand for as long as you can stand. Gentle pat dry & if you can't keep running to the shower, apply heat some other way, hair dryer, mug full of fresh tea against your clothes over itchy skin, however you do it, I find heat is the key to relieving the dreaded fire ant hell itch brought on my sunburn.

Yours in poor UV protection,
Kat xx


  1. I am having the same exact problem and a really hot shower is the only thing i can find to stop it too.. Well it stops it for a few hours

    1. My son has been tortured for the past 24 hrs. Tried tea tree oil an hour ago. Itch stopped right away and is staying away. Idk what's worse, being tortured or watching helplessly as your young son is being tortured???? We had tried aloe, hydrocortisone, benadryl,moisturizers, baths, to no avail. So glad I tried the tea tree oil!!!! Hope this helps someone!!!

  2. I have probably taken 6 or more hot showers today.. Its getting crazy I hope it stops soon

  3. I find that it only lingers for 2 or so days. Just keep applying heat however you can, get better ASAP! x

  4. Hi! I like your blog. I've recently had this issue and wrote up the following. Hopefully it will help others who stumble here:

    Ok people, let’s get a couple things straight because there are two symptoms being confused and muddled together. Here is what we know:

    1) Regular sunburn itch and skin reactions. This consists of burning, peeling, and uncomfortable itching. And yes, it can be severe and painful BUT it is manageable. Topical solutions and home remedies usually help the situation. The more severe the sunburn, the more severe the symptoms.

    2) Insanity itch/ demon itch/ hells itch/ fire itch/ suicide itch/ fire ants are eating my skin itch. How do you know the difference? Well, you sure as heckfire will know if you have it! It is unbearable and nothing seems to help, and in fact, topicals seem to make it worse. This can occur with only mild sunburn, and appears to start ~ 2 days after the sunburn. Some of the best descriptions I've read so far:
    "... someone kill me please..."
    " The itching was so bad that I almost snapped. I tried to have my wife knock me out with a 2 x 4"
    "At its onset i was shaking uncontrollably, i was actually brought to my knees...i was screaming... i turned to pacing up and down my room, i lost count how many times, it was the only thing that gave me even a slight relief...its somewhere between an itch and thousands of constant insect bites that never end...
    “at certain points i just wanted to knock myself out because i couldn't bare the agony any longer, i'm not ashamed to say that, i was almost reduced to tears."
    "...this is the worst pain I have ever went through. I now know what it would be like to be buried in an ant hill."
    "this should be used as a form of torture for those who commit heinious crimes"
    "All I could do is pace back and forth and ramble on about how I just wanted to die!"
    "At one point, it was so bad that I started punching myself in the face to get my mind off of it."
    "the itch is intolerable and evil. It's the only thing that will bring me to considering jumping out of my 2nd story window, but then I worry that I'll have two broken legs and the itch will remain!"
    "It brought me to my knees. I was itching uncontrollably all over my back, screaming and crying hysterically. "
    "I want my mom...tequilla..and Codeine."
    "it felt like a brush fire spreading across my back and I began to go mental... as if I was possessed by a demon (an itchy demon). “
    “This itch is unlike ANYTHING ELSE. It makes me want to rip my skin off using rusty razors, to put it lightly…It sends the sufferer into a demonic state of helplessness as they struggle to cope with the itch which prevails through all numbing, cooling and moisturizing remedies.”

    Sooo you get the point. You will know the difference.

    Treatment: The insanity itch is an ALLERGIC REACTION and should be treated as such. Therefore TAKE ANTIHISTAMINES like Benadryl , Allegra, etc. Debate lingers on about the other treatments (topicals, hot/cold showers, natural oils, etc), so I won’t add my two cents here. But sunburn is sunburn and treatment for #1 above should also be administered to help the skin heal as tolerable.

    How long does it last? Good question… as peoples experience appear to range from 1 day to 2 weeks. I was surprised to find a lack of credible medical and scientific information out there on this.

    I will add one further point from my situation. I was getting sick while my sunburn and insanity itch occurred. Therefore I wonder whether my depressed immune system had something to do with it, since this was the first time I’ve experienced the insanity itch.

    1. I have experienced insane hell ant fire itch both whilst unwell with the common cold & in perfect health - both suck in equal measure, I think the exhaustion of being unwell just makes it that much more unpleasant.

  5. ive had this too mine felt like someone was rubbing fiberglass across my whole chest and arm and then stabbing them with needles then spraying lemon juice all over it...i went to the doctor and sat in the waiting room forever and i finally saw a doctor and all i got was calamine lotion which actually helped as long as i didnt touch it. this feeling was horrible and i hope i never get burnt again

    1. This description of the symptoms are freakishly accurate!

  6. I'm considering just knocking myself out with tequila. This is unbearable.

    1. 2 weeks would have been paradise. Mine lasted for 5, and after about 2 or so even the cold towels I put on my back so I could get about 2 hours of sleep at a time stopped working. I finally told my Dr. He had to do something to help me, begging. This was after a clinic Dr. saw me and her treatment didn't work. I was sleep deprived with plenty of the effects of that and had tried almost anything, too scared to try hot anything in case it mite aggravate it. Finally my doc got me onto a high enough dose of Attarax (I can't take Benadryl due to drug interactions). He also had his pharmacist make up an old compound mixture cream made up of I don't care what. It was heaavenly when it finally left, nothing really worked more than a couple hours. I had a bumpy rash too, still a little left. People thought I was crazy too, until I found this blog, even then they weren't sure but at least I knew I wasn't alone. Way to ruin a summer.

  7. Got a sunburn the other day and the hell itch started this morning. It was mild at first so I didn't think much of it, but before I realized it was the early stages of hell itch I applied aloe and soon pissed off the demons living under my skin. I was starting to go crazy when I decided to look up remedies for this nightmare unfolding before my eyes. One thing I noticed several people mention was peppermint oil. I had nothing to lose at this point so I figured what the hell, it can't get much worse. It wasn't easy to find (walgreens, cvs, wal-mart and local grocery store didn't carry it,) but I finally found it at GNC. I have to say this stuff is a miracle in a bottle, and the best $6 I ever spent. This is going in the opposite direction of the hot shower remedy though. It opens up the pores and makes your skin ice cold. My lobster skin turned to a light pink and the itching went away. So if this happens to you again, I'd say give it a shot.

  8. Use 100% peppermint oil
    Not extract just the oil whole foods sells it use it it works all dayyyyy

  9. Its 4:53AM and the hell fire itch has awoken me. I've been restless for hours, even as I type this lightning itch is devouring my back. Its always my back for some reason. This happened last year same thing. I'm thankful for this blog.

  10. currently the ants are digging into me.. luckily they waited till I was home from work however at work they did start to show their teeth and it hurt now I'm using burn spray(numbing agent) then solorcain aloe and the ants are weak but still present... I.Just. Want. To. Sleep.

  11. Its me again! I discovered the best combo ever! I did the super hot shower and the peppermint oil. I sleep all night. Amazing. The peppermint oil came in a really small bottle for 6.99 its pure peppermint and I diluted it a little. Mint Vs. Fire....Mint Wins! And the hot shower opens the pores up so they make a great team. This is the third year this happened and nothing worked except this. God is good.

  12. Apple cider vinegar helped me quite a bit. Some people say dilute with water but I just dumped some on a rag and started blotting my skin with it. The insane itching has stopped for now. Thank God!!!!!!!

  13. Holly christ that was absolutely horrible. It's finally over! I couldn't even think when this was happening. The first thing I tried was the hot shower and it worked pretty well(while I was in it).

    30 seconds after I was out and it was back and i'd be a crazy person again. If you need relief, then a shower or a heat/cold pack works good. The heatpack worked the best for me but lots of others here said cold pack. This is just temporary though.

    Apparently this fire ant hell itch is the result of allergies. My dad has it too apparently. So he went and got me allergy medicine. clariten I believe, although im sure it does not matter. I took some and put my heatpack back on and then within like 30 minutes it was bearable without the heatpack but I kept it on anyways, no chances were being taken today. About 2 hours later I was 100% and then another hour after that I put on a shirt and its totally fine. I still feel the normal sunburn itch but it isn't even bothering me. Maybe it's really just not that bad or maybe it is because I have come back from the fire ant itch from hell :).

    Good luck

    "Too long didn't read, cause who the fuck would if you're itching"
    TLDR; Allergy Medication!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Heatpack while waiting

  14. Thank you for sharing this, I was current about to jump out the window alright cause I couldn't seep and I was grunting and trying to tough it out but I just could so while I was flipping out and trying to bare the insanity I search on Google and came across this and I couldn't believe others have actually had this pain. I all say I wouldn't wish this up on anyone, its a nightmare. the pain feels like very hot needles are starting to come out of our back, with fire ants just biting and sting you all over your back. I will say im just trying to get rid of mine and the hot shower works! OK well im dont ranting gonna get a hot shower now.

  15. The worst feeling I have ever had. Do not use moisturizers, it just pisses Satan's Fire Ants off. Right now I am sitting here in a towel after getting out of a hot shower that temporarily cured the pain and itch. I can slightly feel the pain coming back, but yes the shower helps a lot. Does anyone have any idea how long this lasts?? I got my sunburn 3 days ago and it's still going strong :( 2 hours of sleep the past few nights.

    1. Sorry I didn't see this earlier - I'm guessing you've well & truly recovered by now. Mine usually lasts anywhere between 1 to 3 days, depending on how delinquent I have been with sun protection. How long til your devil ants left you be?

  16. I had this yesterday and after trying a numner of things, my mom told me to go outside and lay down. After about 2 minutes in the sunlight, the itch started to go away and was kept away for about 7-8 hours until i stupidly took a cold shower. Next time, il try a hot shower to see if that works too.

  17. I've experience the Hell Itch since as far back as I was about 14 years old, I'm 28 now. The first time it happened, it was literally the worst thing I've ever experienced, and I've broken my elbow, wrist, ankle, and countless digits. I can only guess that it is some kind of an allergy, and today was the first day I've used the Peppermint Oil treatment, it seems to be the best solution. The key is opening up your pours. The peppermint oil is very cool and does just that. I will never go without having this $10 bottle in my medicine cabinet at all times. Or, perhaps maybe I shouldn't be such an idiot when it comes to sunscreen.

    1. We all swear to be vigilant with sun protection when this happens but time & time again we slip up. I'm obviously yet to learn my lesson still. I will have to give the peppermint oil a go next time!

  18. I think im dying!! This itch is driving me beyond crazy. This is my second sleepless night in a row. I am 15 and stupidly fell asleep in the sun so all my chest and stomach is sunburnt. I have tried everything, and i mean everything from pain killers to sleeling pills,from hot showers to cold. From alovera plant and gels, to after suns to oat meal baths and showers, vinigar, milk, tomartoe, apracots and cucumbers also pepermint. This stupid itch wont go away!!! Ive even tried ice packs EVERYTHING. Im acty considering asking my brother to knock me out or to go borrow some of dads whisky collection for the evening. I feel sorry for anyone having to suffer this, im so close to tears its unreal. Anyother weird solutions that might work please ? I beg of you.

    1. So sorry to hear you had such a bad time of it Kelly :( I am usually fine after the hot shower but some of the earlier comments suggest having a hot shower & then applying peppermint oil works even better. In my experience using moisturising agents (aloe, milk etc) just seemed to make it worse. I found combining them even worse. You poor treasure, I hope you felt better soon after posting this xx

  19. I had never even heard of this particular kind of sunburn hell before, and I'm a pasty white girl who gets burned nearly every time I go to the beach. (Which is only about once per summmer, but you know.) I've even been burnt worse before, and it never came down to the Fire Ant Hell Itching. The only thing that relieved it for me was when my fiance would rub my shoulders with lotion. It hurt my sunburn, but it calmed the itching a bit. I paced around the house like a crack head. My fiance rubbed my shoulders for about an hour, but he had to go to sleep, so this is what helped me:

    Swaddle yourself where it itches.

    We put anti-sunburn itch lotion on my shoulders, where the itch was, then wrapped them up with hand towels. To keep a constant pressure on them, we duct taped them to my arms. You could try wrapping them in gauze, as well. It stays on better and it's easier to get the right amount of pressure. We did that for half of my arm, but ran out and used what we had to use to finish the job. It helped SOOOOO much, and within five hours, I could take off the swaddle and sleep like a real person.

    Peppermint oil sounds like it would be the best choice, but we didn't have any in the house and our pharmacies were out of it (apparently people buy it to kill mice or something) so we did what we had to.

    Just be careful to not cut off circulation! I'd only do this if you're desperate, which I was. It hurts to have constant pressure against your burns, but it's much better than the Fire Ant Hell Itch.

  20. I was going through this and it started yesterday at 2am and it was the most miserable thing I have ever endured, tried everything, lidocaine, oral steroids given to me by the doctor, numbing spray and none of it worked for more than 20-30 minutes of slight releif. Benadryl worked best. And of course I didn't find this until today around 2am again, tried the hot shower and it worked great... For about an hour or two. Then I tried taking a scalding bath. Fell asleep in it for about two hours and havent had any itch since! So about 7 hours. Not bad but I'm feeling great at the moment and have only had minor regular sunburn itch since! Hope this helps someone with the terrible pain of Hells itch.

  21. Peppermint Oil! I tried everything but the hot shower, which sounds painful but effective. I stopped at GNC and picked up peppermint oil. I was not having an episode when I put it on, but it immediately stopped the few nerve bites I was having. I am hoping not to have to put it to the real test, but I'm glad I have it if it comes to it.

  22. I have to say that last night I was a crazy, irrational person. Thanks to this blog I discovered the value of hot showers and peppermint oil in that order. All day regimen of the two along with a Benadryl and a subsequent nap and loads of water. I'm happy to say I might actually sleep tonight and the crazy person is gone.

    1. I'm so glad you guys are sharing your experiences! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has experienced this madness! Good riddance to the crazy person! x

  23. Thank you so much. I have had this twice in my life. Once when I was 13 and again at 26. Nothing but deal with it the first two times. With a sunburn heat was the last thing I would think to cure any part of it but as I sit and type this I am beating back Satan's Itch with a heat pad and feel so much better. So round three is a win and hopefully the last round. Sunscreen and I are gonna get well acquainted.

    1. Love it! Glad this suggestion helped you out :) SPF 30+ for life!

  24. This article saved my life. This itch made for the worst 13 hours of my whole life. The hot shower saved me - after 2 it barely itched at all. It seems so counter-intuitive to heat sunburn, but it works like you wouldn't believe. One thing is for sure, I am never going swimming outside in hot sun without my Factor Ginger suncream!

    1. It's pure torture isn't it? I was so weirded out that applying heat actually helped. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

  25. I just tried hot blow dryer blowing it into a couple of robes I'm wearing to keep in the heat, I got relief and now feel a calm coming back to my body and also my mind, Thank God. It was like every nerve was being stuck with a pin randomly all over my body. I'm now going to lay down on a heat pad and try and get some sleep.
    p.s. I tried: 1500 mg of Advil no help.
    Aloe coolzone no help
    Skin lotions after hot shower a little help
    Benidril 25 mg some help
    Lunesta 3 mg slept 3 hrs

    I do agree that heat does keep the ants from hell at bay.
    God bless.

    1. I find the blow dryer & heat packs a bit more convenient than running to the shower every couple of hours for sure! Glad you're feeling better :)

  26. My god. The power of the internet is good. It loves us and keeps us. I pledge my undying love to the internet and honor it every day.

    THANK YOU for posting this and using whatever words and phrases I searched for.

    I've suffered this twice before and again today. It is the absolute worst. NO ONE who hasn't experienced it can begin to understand. It isn't just the fire ants marching under your skin, its not only the fiberglass being drug across you, its not exclusively the lemon juice squirted into a paper cut. It is that it becomes almost instantly mental. It drives you insane with panic, crazy while under assault from unseen assailants, the discomfort drives you to madness, slapping yourself, pacing, willing to do anything at any time for even a modicum of relief. Then, you make the mistake of trying aloe or lidocaine or cold compresses, and it angers the prickly fire just beneath your skin and it surges forth the fury of ten thousand suns which drives you further into madness and desperation.

    I liken it to the reaction of a heroin and crack addict being doused with mustard gas. I was inconsolable, raving, jumping, jerking, running myself into walls, screaming. I was not sane. My eyes were alternately wide and crazed, then closed tight as I waited for the surge of pain to pass. I was crying and rocking, pacing angrily across the house, looking at items in my fridge, milk, creamy dressings, slices of cheese, pudding, hoping and calculating if they would possibly sooth the thousands of scorpion stings across my shoulders and chest.

    Thank you for this post. While it doesn't calm the lightning firestrikes of sharpened jacks rolling under my skin, it does ease my mind to know that I am truly not alone, not crazy, and not descending into an opium-like madness from which I'll never recover. There are other people who have felt this way, who feel this way, you have lived through, and emerged fromt he otherside, newly dedicated to applying sunscreen, wearing swimming shirts, staying the fuck indoors.

    My day of calm hasn't yet arrived. I'm still constantly walking through the briar patch, grapefruit rain falling into every new wound. My nerves and in turn my brain, is screaming. Demanding I roll around in the sand, commanding me to use the metal garden rake across my chest, trying to convince me that the razor blade paint scraper is my only solution. But I am strong.

    I am distracting myself by talking, reading, walking... I am drugged up, with twice the normal dose of antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and an anti-anxiety pill.

    Nothing is working, except to keep me from walking in front of a bus. Its had almost come to that. A final release from the pain.

    But I am strong, and I have others out there. Who unknowingly, silently support me, who know my struggle. Who know I've not gone crazy.

    I just wish they could completely convince me. Because I've got a tub of greek yogurt and a spatula in my hand, and I'm not afraid to use it.

    1. This post had me in stitches! Soul brother! This is exactly what fire ant hell itch feels like. I hope you weren't in agony for long.

  27. Sounds crazy but my relief is a blow dryer. God it helps.

    1. I am a big fan of this method! Glad it helped you out :)

  28. I can't believe I actually thought it was getting better yesterday. last night it came back with a fury, please when will this end, it's been nearly a month.

  29. hell is over, at least for me. I had the pleasure of having ants crawl under my skin for at least 8 times. every summer i stupidly take my fiance tanning lotion, instead of the regular sunblock, which is always in the same kind of bottles. 2 days ago me and my buddy went to the beach and enjoyed relatively sun-less morning. at around 1-30 2 pm we decided to go back, and upon our arrival i was fried, with near purple skin. My wife covered me with sour milk, and after applied Aloe Vera ( which usually helps ) 3 caps of Benadryl, a bottle of beer and a shot of tequila had knocked me out for the rest of the day. when i woke up i felt burned, but not really itchy, took a shower dropped 2 more pills, and went to sleep. Next day was fine, except the fact that my skin felt like i went through intensive botax therapy, all smooth and shiny. Shit hit the fan today in the morning, when i got to my job, and felt "itch synapses" from time to time. At around 8:15 i could not take it anymore: i was shaking and mumbling, itching myself, which made my boss think that the drug test i took few week before was falsified and I have the crazy drug problem. When i got onto a train the itch went into a full fledged "fire ants from hell" mode. regular junkies on the train were nothing comparing to me, i was going through the roughest withdrawal in their eyes.
    when i got home i immediately turned my computer and started searching for any solution that can help. Hot showers helped but in 10 minutes i was back spraying myself with the hot water and mumbling some nonsense. It took me 2 hours to find the GNC that had the peppermint oil. I paid for it ran outside and in the back alley poured it on my hands and started to rubbing it on my skin. PEPPERMINT OIL o PEPPERMINT OIL, i will always have you with me, im ice brick cold, and it hurts at some places, but I dont have these fucking fire hell ants under my skin anymore. this feels relaxing, no pills nor traditional healing methods were able to help me with such precision and easiness, i love it.


  30. I'm a 32 year old male with a high tolerance for pain. I skateboard and have broken both my wrists , have been hit by a car and broken collar bone, dislocated knee and fractured ankle, had my appendix burst and waited till morning to go to the hospital. None of those made me cry. This terrible sun burn itch made me cry like a psycho at a Britney Spears concert. This is way worse than anything I've ever experienced. I was just in the shower, literally crying and going mad. My sister made me a warm oatmeal bath (Aveeno) I think it saved my life. My next step I think was really just smashing my head into a wall in hopes of knocking myself out. I'm going to try peppermint oil next. Thanks for the tips and if you're on this blog I pray for your sanity.

  31. You guys are amazing for sharing your stories - I definitely have a few extra tips for next time (assuming I am ever stupid enough to get burnt again). I'm so glad my tips have helped some of you out - I know that desperation & torture all too well so to hear that this blog has helped you guys out when you needed it means a lot :)

    SPF FOR LIFE! xx

  32. Omg I'm in agony but grateful (if that's the right phrase ) that others are experiencing this mother of all itches. Two weeks in and It hurts that much I've had my work colleagues rubbing oil into my skin which surely breaks so many hr rules lol. I'm not sleeping and I can't concentrate on work so I'm going to try hot showers and peppermint oil this sound the way to go. Thank you for the tips

  33. The first time it happened to me was in the early 90's. Apparently my flannel came off and I got a decent burn on my shoulders and back while in college in Florida. I went to the ER after about 8 hours of pure torture that, until I read this blog, had thought only I had experienced. The doc thought I was I on something, and kept asking me when and how much of what street drug I had taken. Just Benadryl, a**hole!
    The second time was not a year later, and I was told milk might help. All it did was sour my bed as my girlfriend put washcloths soaked in milk on my back. I went batshit insane. I remember it so clearly, like a torture victim would. I put my fist through the wall, and eventually just got stinking drunk so I'd pass out and not feel it, hoping it'd be gone when I awoke the next day.
    I was good for the next 15-20 years, until a week or so ago. While applying sunscreen, I missed two spots on my back the size of my hand. Two spots the size and shape of a damn coaster! It was like two open jars full of fire ants on steroids were balanced on my back, with the open mouth of the jar on my skin. I can say it only lasted a few hours and the intensity wasn't there...but now I have some weird bumply rash. It was itchy at first, but now makes my muscles beneath it sore. I think the rash is unreleated to the roid ants, but I have to wonder.
    I'm truly grateful to know I didn't slipped a mickey with some crazy drug in college a few times, and that my memory is accurate, because until reading this post today, sometimes I think it couldn't have happened the way I remember it did.
    And my kids wonder why daddy always wears a shirt at the pool...

  34. I've had this 3 times now and each was at least 5 years apart, I'm 24 now and got burned this past weekend on the first day of my bachelor party before I get married in less than two weeks, I had tried everything before and always just had to deal with it but now with technology I can research and found out its an allergic reaction to too much sun, I find that taking a lot of allergy medicine while taking hot(very hot) baths helps me tremendously but a piece of advice is to save your last dose of medicine before you go to bed and make sure its a nighttime medicine and you can sleep through the night. hope this helps the next poor soul that has to deal with this!!!

  35. I know this horrid itch well. Calamity lotion was the only thing that would put a dent in it, plus mass quantities of oral antihistamine. Thanks for sharing your solution! Last time I was away from home and had no calamine handy. I was going out of my mind!

  36. haha you just saved my life. I have been trying aloe and random anti-itch solutions to no avail, and am no where near a place that may provide this fabled peppermint oil, but the hot shower FINALLY stopped the madness. Thanks

    1. You're welcome Michael! Glad this helped :)

  37. I had this exact same thing and I wasn't even really burnt I just had a tan. I was home alone and I kept calling my parents up telling them i needed to go to the ER and they called me over dramatic.My mom ended up taking me to OSU medical center and got us into the doctors and they gave me really powerful anti-itch medicine and a really powerful spray. Finally sweet relief, I never want to deal with that again.

  38. I recently went to a routine appointment with my dermatologist and shared the awful experience of the burning itch this summer. She said immediately and without hesitation that I should have gone in there. Although I saw a doctor at a clinic, and my family doctor, for some reason none of us thought of the dermatology clinic at the hospital. I hope this might help someone and minimize the duration of suffering.

  39. Causes Sunburn :-
    The sun isn't just a ball of fire, it's a star made up of various gases, some of which produce UVA and UVB rays, the rays that cause your skin to burn. You will not get a sunburn from sitting in front of a bonfire for a few hours, although your skin may turn a little pink from the heat if you sit too close.

    Buy Melanotan 2 Uk & Melanotan Nasal Spray

  40. lol @ me for trying to get tanned, i'll explain my story.

    My brother recently visited for the christmas period and he gets outdoors more than me, hence has a tanned look whereas i was looking pretty pasty. He left earlier in the week and on friday when i was at home i decided to bathe in the sun in an attempt to replicate his look, (just for a little while, as i have been burned before in my childhood and know its not smart to bathe too long for safety reasons).

    Of course i wanted to be a hero and do it without a small layer of sunscreen as i had ran out anyway and didnt think of just driving to the store 5 minutes away getting some. It wouldnt take as long if i went solo anyway! #genius! it was about 25 Degrees Celsius (77 fahrenheit i think??) outside at about 2pm. Having decided I'd spend half an hour on each side and see how that felt.

    I began but about 20 minutes in a friend of mine came round to visit for an hour unexpectedly wanting to discuss something with me. So i got off my stomach sat on the grass and started talking my neck was already feeling hot so put my shirt on my neck and we kept talking. and talking... and talking -_- . Of course this completely distracted me from what was happening behind me i was facing away from the sun and so my back got the treatment.

    As soon as my friend left i went back to what i was previously concentrating on, the suntanning. Immediately i felt my back was a little heated (i had been out for close to 2 hours) but it didnt feel too bad so i didnt panic because i checked and it wasnt completely red (somehow i had totally forgotten the burnt red complexion appears hours after it happens - though it had already happened so i'm not sure it wouldve helped realizing i could've made a mistake.) so I just lay on my back to tan my front.

    By now though it wasn't as hot or in the 10-4 danger UV ray period so i lay out for about 45 minutes on my back to tan, thought it wasnt havent much effect anymore (It was still burning me) then went inside and typically got distracted.

    2/3 hours later, i took off my light t-shirt as i was feeling hot and my flatmate said, "holy shit , forget the sunscreen today Josh?" at which point my heart dropped and what had happened in the afternoon slowly returned.

    I started bathing
    got distracted
    spent 2 hours with my back directly exposed to the sun in the hottest part of the day.

    Memories came back from my childhood of sunburn pain and entire chest skin peeling off and oozing from the blisters but i wasnt too worried, just accepting the fact of having a week or so of uncomfortable nights' sleep.

    Well I didnt get that much sleep on friday night or saturday night purely due to the discomfort of the sunburn. Just to make things worse a small little blister like thing appeared on my skin yesterday which didnt look like any brown sun spot id got in the past. That just got me paranoid the little suntan adventure had done serious damage to me. I picked at it awkwardly reaching at it on my back (because i am genuinely an idiot and couldnt leave it alone) and it bleed for a while, but i made sure i cleaned the area with plenty of water afterwards so i can hope that will be fine not infected, (now theres a small scab, idiot josh).

    Anyway that was last night and i slept a few hours tonight and woke up this morning and as i'd the previous morning went to have a cold shower because i just wanted to cool down the burning skin i'd had pressed up against the mattress for hours.

    1. 1 hour before disaster:

      After the cold shower i felt better went and logged on this laptop to just browse on a lazy sunday, sitting upright on the floor (not on the couch as that would press up against my sunburn)

      2 seconds before disaster: (ok i know this is cheesy i'm even repeating myself like nat geo)

      just sitting there and suddenly feel a tingling in my back. Initially i think "damn it, i've scrunched up the skin on my back and irritated it" so i just moved my back around a bit and the tingling grew, so i stopped leaning over and sat upright and now it was getting annoying and itchy. I took my shirt off and just pressed my cool hands against my back. (hands are usually cool due to inherited bad circulation) Took them off and within 3 seconds it was just as irritating and still itching. So i got both hands and pressed them all over my back and obviously the same thing, didnt help at all. By this point i am no longer concentrating on the NFL game i was watching and chatting about, purely fixitated on this, hence its now getting annoying enough to completely distract me. Took a deep breath and didnt touch my back at all and just figured it will get to a point of irritation, climax and i'll just ignore and it'll die down from me not aggrivating it.

      I was so wrong.

      I left it, 5 seconds later, im feeling it in one place, 10 seconds eight places, 15 seconds later everywhere, just 15 seconds (maybe even sooner after i've left it and told myself i'm going to ignore it, its getting unbearably itchy, i cannot concentrate on anything but, any moving doesnt make it better, not moving isnt helping either, gently pressing to distract it isnt helping.

      What the fuck do i do!!! vexation building.

      Put the shirt back on, maybe a light shirt on the itchy skin will distract the itching.

      NOPE. Its just giving it MORE reason to itch.

      Shirt back off. pressing against skin with hands to stop,

      NOPE not stopping.

      New tactic, run cold water down my back. ah relief...

      NOPE stopped for about 1 SECOND !!! ITCHING ITCHING ITCHING. IT CANT STOP, IT WONT STOP (sorry bout that reference) What to do???

      jumped in the shower to cool off. (hadnt googled remedies for this yet and wasnt aware of the hot shower) aah feels better, kinda, still can feel the itching but under the tap its not irritating anymore the water flow is distracting the itching feeling somewhat. finally. ok get out of the shower.


      ok gently dry my back maybe the water is irritating it.

      NOPE worse.

      ok ummm wtf now. aaah, WHAT ... THE... FUCK... this is beyond annoying, distracting, I cant do anything else its JUST SO IRRITATING, not painful just TORTUROUSLY irritating. f f f, i decided to hit myself on the back which is like the last thing youd want to do with sunburn; hitting myself, HURTING myself, purely to distract the itching it was getting so annoying, (i am losing sanity now, clearly).

      By now i am yelling and grunting in sheer frustration and it has only been about 30 minutes since it started itching. When i walked back into the living room my flatmate asked if i was alright, initially i didnt reply because i really just wanted it to end and nothing else.

    2. A few seconds later "what the hell is wrong??"

      I replied "itching, my sunburn, so fucking badly"

      "dont irritate it"...

      "doesnt help!"....

      "maybe try a warm bath?" ....

      "water on it didnt help!" ...

      "maybe a damp clotch" ...

      then i shouted "NOTHING IS FUCKING WORKING!" and went to my room in anger amidst bizarre motions of touching my back

      I have never shouted at my flatmate before, i was so aggrivated beyond belief. This crap was possessing me.

      While i was there i got more and more and more wound up and after hitting myself multiple times on my back it concluded with me actually kicking the wall... i accidentally did it so hard it made a fist sized hole in the bottom of the wall....................................... and the most disturbing part of all, the hole in the wall of the flat i always cared for so meticulously, i didnt even care about, only thing i wanted is for this to stop. I knew by now something wasnt right, this was fucked up scary.

      I'm usually a calm person with a level temperament and control myself in stressful situations but this was different allllltogether. The pure fact that i could not literally stop something that was continuously eating my skin little termites on a wall (or so it felt like) just drove me isane, tortured... by my own skin.

      At this point. i had no other resort but go to the chemist on my moped and ask what they could give me.

      When i got there it didnt seem to be as bad at that moment thankfully or id look like i was insane but i just walked straight in and asked what they had, and the only thing they had was aloe vera lotion, she stated it was because my skin was dry and about to peel and it was for dry irritated skin.

      I knew this wasnt anything special but as a typical guy i dont use mosturisers often and at this point i just wanted something, so i purchased it. (and some more SUNSCREEN... again i'm an idiot) then quickly went home.

      Again when i got there, didnt seem to bad, but got my shirt off and started applying all over my back.

      Of course this did not really help the itching at all, only the sunburn side of things. So i just gave up, rubbed the lotion on fully so it wouldnt go on my shirt and put my shirt back on, may as well, it doesnt feel quite as bad right now. Sat back down where it all started, still the tingling, which will no doubt get worse, then it hit me... Didnt feel so bad while i was driving the moped.... only one reason why that couldve been... the air flowing down my back.

      So i got my shirt and starting flapping it as i was sitting there, (dont have a fan). Flatmate giving me worried looks not weird looks cause she genuinely didnt know what to do to help and i kept doing it for a minute, was actually feeling irritable while i was doing it (probably cause my shirt was gentlely flapping against my skin. Then came crunch time, i stopped.

      Felt the warm tingling sensation again. but it didnt grow intensely. was still there but it was controllable... well i could contain myself to the point that i could ignore it and wouldnt bug me if i left it. And i just sat there reading things on my laptop and keeping myself occupied on my computer again without moving so i could be in peace.

      That worked until i (in yet another bizarre episode of my irrational mind) decided to go for a jog about 10 minutes, and when i was done the sweat just irritated it again so wen through the aloe vera on skin which again isnt really helpful to the itch, and basically fanned my back (would've been nice if i had a classroom sized fan). This was enough to keep me in peace if i kept still.

    3. Basically as the blogger pointed out, air pressure on it can aid the feeling somewhat. (not at all recommending this as a remedy because it doesnt remove the problem altogether just telling a story here.) No idea if this was a mixture of applying a mosturizer type lotion then the fanning, just the fanning or because i haven't got this crazy itch as severe as other people or what.

      Its midnight here now 12:45am, I havent been sleeping well while having this sunburn so i will probably take a sleeping aid soon and type back how its going

      Oh... i will probably try the hot shower, thanks for everyones comments by the way!

      I would've never have realized heat on an overheated area would be the antidote. hope i can sleep because i hate overheating in bed, cant sleep if i'm too hot!

      Suppose i'll reply to this to see how i'm coping!!!!!!!! If im managing to sit here without it bothering me i guess my allergic reaction isnt as bad as others may have got lucky.

    4. Well i dont know what happened but i swear to god i had this described insane itch but its already about a day later. just woke up and it felt like regular sun burn again.

      Suppose i'll be thankful i didnt get it as sever as the above accounts.

      Probably didnt have as severe a burn and it was only my back.

      Even though it initially did shit all, I did apply aloe vera lotion about 3 times as thats all i had; couldnt get my hands on peppermint oil within a day here.

      Not sure if applying the lotion gradually rehydrated my skin or what

      oh and the hot shower was very helpful!!!. gl with anyone that has to deal with this ridiculous temporary torture in the future! i know i'lll be wearing suncreen from now!!!

  41. Josh, don't stop with the pharmacy, try to see a dermatologist or intelligent g.p., or you will certainly go crazy. In the beginning ice cold towels, ie soaked in cold water and spread over your burn, helped me, but the danger is drying out your skin and ultimately making it worse. I was afraid to try the hot treatment so I am unable to comment on that. Finally in desperation I begged my gp for help (my itch lasted 5 weeks). He gave me a pretty good dose of a Benadryl alternative called Atarax in a pill, and a compound an old pharmacist had come up (nothing else in existence would help). I copy from the container : CAM.3%MENT.3%HC1%HYDROCORTISONE (ACET) I hope you get some relief, Lou
    I don't remember how often I put this cream on but a good pharmacist or dermatologist could tell you, all I know is that until then nothing helped for more than an hour. I think this combination of medication and cream did, I think. As I posted earlier, my dermatologist said that I should have gone to see her for help.

    1. i was about to call my GP, family friend, free visits, but it miraculously subsided. Ihave no idea why, people said this is an allergic reaction. Why it went away so fast for me i can only assume being the sunburn wasn't as severe (maybe my allergy wasnt as bad???). I feel for you if you had that shit for 5 weeks, that is just horrible and i take this short experience as a strong warning for future outdoor activities.!!!!!!

  42. Its 1.27am and I have this - so bad it woke me up even after having taken Phenergen earlier in the night (which knocks me out and did let me sleep for 4hrs). My itching started about 5 weeks ago - 2 weeks after a bad sunburn on my shoulders. I have been burnt heaps of times but this is the first time I have ever had itching after I peeled. The itching is definitely worse at night but am getting the occasional bouts during the day too. Cool compresses and showers help but only temporarily. Like most others I have tried every cream and lotion in the house from stingoes to dermaid 1%. I even used pine tarsel for a few days whcih gave temporarily relief but thats all. I am going to get some peppermint oil in the morning and try the hot shower. I am not at the stage of wanting to jump out of windows but the sleep deprivation is awful and I am supposed to be back at work next week.

    1. You poor thing! I hope you have found some relief x

  43. Ok so i didnt learn... well i did... but I forgot to apply sunscreen to some areas.... had been going outside frequently every day the past week it was sunny, (most days) and yesterday i missed a few areas... luckily not my back, some area on my thighs and hips... It was about 36 hours from last time that i got the itching. 24 hours in now we'll see. I feel like a guinea pig, (with the IQ of one too).

    1. yup its back, as soon as i woke up i felt a slightly tingly on the burnt area with contact. Luckily i know how to approach this now. (if you dont have the peppermint oil)

      If you SIMPLY DO NOT touch it at all, a loose shirt on it would be fine but do NOT have a shower, that will ignite the itch. It was pretty fine until i applied sunscreen. now i'm just fanning it with my t-shirt, then not touching it. AT ALL. (unless you are trying the hot shower to go to sleep).

      If I do, fanning it again. seems to be the only way to get any relief. Bottom line though. the Itch will ONLY start if you provoke it.

      I have been awake for 3 hours and despite feeling the beginning of the itch i hadnt touched it til i was going outside and put sunscreen on and it was fine until then. probably helps that its only a small area this time.

      Weirdly though, my legs which also copped it, not itching at all. Dont know what the scientific reasoning is behind that.

      Hopefully i wont have to clog up any more of this blog with my rambling!

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I've enjoyed the read!

  44. I honestly don't know how to thank you enough for this article it legit saved my life. I've been getting this demon itch for a few years and only on my back for some reason. now, I'm Sicilian and I have olive skin. usually I don't burn at all I just get black. but this summer I got a LIGHT burn on my back, not thinking it would cause the demon itch to start. I woke up at 4am because the itch was so bad and it woke me out of my sleep. I had no idea what to do. finally I started googling about an extreme itch and I finally found this post. when I read it I finally felt like I wasn't alone anymore because EVERY person I told had no idea what I was talking about. as soon as I read about the hot shower I tried it and it worked but I had to be so careful drying off not to aggravate it. I also read that it's an allergic reaction and it has something to do with histamines..they say to take Benadryl which is an anti-histamine. and it actually WORKS. so anytime I got sun on my back I made sure to take Benadryl to stop the demon itch before it even has the chance to start up. now I know next summer when ever there's a possibility of the demon itch happening, I'll have Benadryl stocked up to make sure it can't happen, I don't care how tired it makes me because I'd rather be extremely drowsy then wanting to rip my skin off especially my back where I can't reach! also the part about people who don't experience it don't know how it feels is so true! I can't even explain it to people, all I say is it makes you cringe because it's so bad. thank you so much for this article!!

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