How to Prevent a Tanning Bed Itch (Get Relief Fast)

woman itching

If you love having a natural tan all year round, you may turn to tanning beds as a way to achieve this. But some people feel itching after a tanning bed.

This is a common reaction to UV exposure and will often pass on its own. If the itch is more severe, however, there might be something else going on, and you will be looking for relief.

The best ways on how to prevent a tanning bed itch are lukewarm showers, moisturizers, and sometimes medication, all of which may be necessary to prevent itching.

Let’s take a more detailed look at what the causes are, how to prevent tanning bed itch, and how to get relief fast!

Why Does Tanning Bed Make Me Itch?

Using tanning beds exposes our skin to very concentrated ultraviolet (UV rays). This is a sure-fire way to get a tan but can also cause itching. Mild itching is caused by the stimulation of nerve endings as a result of the UV exposure and will pass quickly.

Because UV exposure damages skin cells, the body works to generate new ones after using tanning beds. This process can also cause an itchy sensation. Again, this should pass within 48 hours of using a tanning bed.

If your itching turns into a rash and lasts longer than a few hours, however, there might be another cause behind it.

One possible and very common explanation is dry skin. UV rays and therefore tanning beds have a drying effect on the skin. If you use tanning beds without lotion, the UV rays are likely to remove any moisture that’s left in your skin. This leads to itchiness and even soreness.

Another possible explanation is heat rash. Heat rash occurs when pores become blocked, and sweat is unable to escape and do its job of cooling down our body. The result is itchy skin, and in sever cases small bumps can develop into larger ones that blister.

Finally, you might be having an allergic reaction to either the lotion you’re using or an unclean tanning bed. If you have sensitive skin, some of the ingredients in tanning lotions might set off a reaction that causes rashes and itchiness.

If the tanning bed wasn’t clean before you used it, maybe there was leftover lotion from the previous client that triggered the reaction. Or, if the bed was definitely clean, maybe you are allergic to one of the disinfectant products that were used.

How to Stop Tanning Bed Itch

The best way to prevent tanning bed itch in the first place is to properly prepare your skin before using the beds. This means having a shower beforehand and exfoliating using a body scrub. This will make sure the skin is clean and smooth, without any dead skin cells hanging around.

Another key thing to do to prepare for using a tanning bed is to apply a tanning lotion. These are specially designed to use with tanning beds and part of their function is to hydrate the skin to stop it becoming dry and itchy.

If you have sensitive skin, check the ingredients of any lotions you use carefully to check for ones that may cause an allergic reaction. You can also ask the salon about the cleaning products they use, if harsh chemicals normally leave you with a rash.

Of course, choosing a reputable salon that you trust to clean the beds properly will stop rashes as a result of anything leftover from the previous client. Horrible to think about, I know, but there are enough horror stories out there to make it worth the consideration!

Finally, make sure you are not spending too long on the tanning bed. Whilst it’s tempting to go for as long as you can last to try and get a darker tan, this won’t work out.

Over-exposure from spending too long on tanning beds will, at best, make your tanning bed itch much worse. At worst, you could burn your skin which will eventually peel or even blister. Burning also greatly increases your chances of developing dangerous skin health conditions in the future.

If you are new to using tanning beds, start with a short amount of time to see how your skin reacts, and build it up slowly. For more information on this we recommend using a tanning bed time chart.

Tanning Bed Itch Relief

If you’re here because you are already suffering from tanning bed itch or a rash after using a tanning bed, here are some things you can do to get some relief.

Have a Lukewarm Shower or Oatmeal Bath

For some relief to your itching, a lukewarm shower will help to cool the temperature of the affected areas. A very hot shower may irritate the areas. A very cold shower, while tempting, will trigger your body to try to heat itself up, and so will end up having the opposite effect.

If you are having a shower, use very gentle products to clean your skin. Products designed for babies are great for this because they don’t contain any harsh chemicals and won’t further irritate your itchiness.

Alternatively, you could take a bath and add some ground oatmeal, which has pH-neutralizing properties that will help to relieve your itchiness. Again, water should be lukewarm. You can soak for about ten minutes three times a day.


If you have tanning bed itch or any rashes, re-hydrating the skin is essential to recovery. Many after-sun lotions have a cooling effect, so they are a great choice, as long as there aren’t any ingredients that will stimulate further reactions in your skin. Always check the label too look for red-flag ingredients.

A natural way to hydrate your skin is with aloe vera. You can use the gel directly from the plant by splitting a leaf open and scraping out the inside. Aloe vera has incredible cooling and hydrating properties and is unlikely to irritate the skin.

We Recommend: Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel


Finally, if the itch is causing you pain or not going away after trying the tricks mentioned above, there are some medications you can take for further relief.

Ibuprofen is a painkiller that also works to bring down temperatures and reduce swelling. It will not only give you some relief if you’re in pain, but help to fix the problem, too.

Hydrocortisone is a low-concentrate steroid cream that you can buy over the counter at a pharmacy. Applying it to affected areas will help to calm the skin and reduce itchiness, redness, and swelling.

Finally, if you think the rash is an allergic reaction, you might have anti-allergy medicine such as antihistamine that you normally take after a flare-up.

Always consult a doctor before using new forms of medication.

Related Question/s

How Long Does Tanning Itch Last?

If you don’t expose your skin to UV radiation again (as in, don’t go on a sunbed again and don’t lie outside in the sun!) then the itch should go down after 24-48 hours. Have a lukewarm shower and apply a cooling lotion to speed up the process

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