Tanning Bed Burn – How to Get Relief Now!

burnt skin

Many people want to know do you burn in a tanning bed? Unfortunately, the answer is yes it can, over-exposure to UV light from the bulbs in tanning beds can lead to sunbed burn.

Because the light is more concentrated in tanning beds than outside in the sun, burns can actually be more damaging to the skin, and take longer to heal.

Sunburn occurs when the skin is over-exposed to UV rays, which are very concentrated in tanning beds. Even a couple of minutes may be too long and can therefore lead to burn.

This article will explain how to recognise tanning bed burn and how to get rid of tanning bed burn and get relief if you are suffering.

How Do I Know if I Have Tanning Bed Burn?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your skin is sunburnt, or if you have come up in a rash from a sunbed. A rash can occur if you have dry skin when you use a tanning bed, because the UV rays can suck the moisture from the top layer of your skin.

Other causes of tanning bed rash could be an allergic reaction to a product you used on your skin before going into the tanning bed, or if sweat gets trapped between layers of your skin and leads to irritation.

If you have a rash, you will see patches of raised skin, either red or white in color. The area might feel itchy and hot. Whilst uncomfortable, this is not sunburn, and symptoms can usually be eased at home using an aloe vera cream. If symptoms persist, however, you should seek medical advice.

Tanning bed burn symptoms will usually be at their worst between 24 and 36 hours after exposure to UV rays. They appear differently in everyone, but the most recognisable symptoms are redness and heat in the skin. It might be uncomfortable to put pressure on the affected area.

In more serious cases, sunburn can blister the skin, or lead to chills and a fever. Skin can swell, and pressure on the affected area can cause extreme pain.

The way to tell the difference between sunburn and a rash is how much skin is affected – if it is a small area that is raised and itchy, it is more likely to be a rash. If a large area of skin is red and hot, it is likely to be sunbed burn. For advice on dealing with an itch check our article – how to prevent tanning bed itch.

Tanning Bed Burn Relief – What to Do?

Most cases of tanning bed burn can be treated at home, with symptoms easing within three to five days. So, what helps a tanning bed burn? Here are some great tanning bed burn remedies to help the healing process and minimize discomfort.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has cooling properties and is therefore effective in bringing down the temperature of your skin, which will feel soothing if you are suffering from sunbed burn. It is also essential to keep your skin moisturized to avoid skin becoming too dry and peeling or cracking.

If you have an aloe vera plant at home, cut one of the leaves in half lengthways and rub the sap directly onto the skin. You can keep leaves in the fridge for an extra cooling effect.

There are also a number of aloe vera products on the market. There are some great lotions available, as well as after-sun creams that contain aloe vera.

We Recommend: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Witch Hazel is a great alternative if you do not have access or are allergic to aloe vera, with similar cooling properties. You can find balms and lotions which you can keep in the fridge and apply directly to the skin.

Whether you are using the leaves of an aloe vera plant or a lotion, apply several times a day to until symptoms improve.


Cool water applied to burn brings down the temperature of your skin. A cool shower can be very effective in relieving sunbed burn symptoms, but make sure to be gentle with yourself. If the water is too cold you could go into shock, and if the pressure is too high it could be very painful to sensitive and burnt skin.

Drinking water is also extremely important if you are suffering from tanning bed burn. Your skin will be lacking moisture, so the body will need extra fluids to stay hydrated. Drinking water is also essential for flushing out toxins caused by the burn.

Baking Soda Bath

Baking soda can help your skin to retain moisture and has a cooling effect, which will help to speed up the healing process.

Pour half a cup of baking soda into a luke-warm (not hot) bath and soak for between 10 and 20 minutes. After the bath, allow your skin to air-dry, as rubbing a towel against damaged skin can cause irritation and worsen the effects of the burn.

We Recommend: Milliard 5lbs Baking Soda

Painkillers and Rest

Ibuprofen and Paracetamol can help in easing pain from sunbed burn. Make sure it is safe for you to take the painkiller and follow the instructions carefully.

Rested bodies heal much faster and more effectively, so get as much sleep as you can. Don’t put your body through a strenuous workout, as the energy spent as well as the heat generated will slow down the healing process.

When to See a Doctor

Symptoms of tanning bed burn can be too serious to treat at home. Sunburn can cause extreme dehydration which makes the body go into shock.

If you have a high fever, feel weak and disorientated, or have very bad blisters, it’s time to see your doctor. They will be able to prescribe the right kind of medicine to heal the blisters and bring your temperature down.

Related Questions

How Long Does Sunbed Burn Last?

How long it takes to get rid of tanning bed burn depends on the severity of the symptoms. Mild sunbed burn will usually be gone within three days. More serious cases can take up to a week.

Remember that whilst the symptoms of the burn will go away, the skin damage is permanent, so always try to avoid burning if you can.

Will Sunbed Burn Turn into Tan?

Mild cases of sunbed burn are likely to turn into tan, because the brown colour is your body’s response to the damage from the UV rays.

In more serious cases in which skin peeling occurs, the new layers of skin underneath will not be tanned.

Seeking out sunbed burn is not an effective way to build a tan.

Scroll to Top