You Say Your Skin Hurts ?

Touchy subject.

Hardy har har...

Sore skin, skin pain, painful skin, your skin hurts... could be almost anything, man. See a doctor.

Seriously, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of causes and conditions that could be behind a symptom like skin pain. Some, you won't even make it to the hospital - the ambulance will just divert straight to the morgue.

Some are quite common, have a million words (medical ones... they cost more) written about them, and still the best bets are calamine lotion or steroids (as creams or as injections).

We'll touch on a few possible causes why your skin hurts, where:

  • a. medical science and expensive pharmaceuticals don't offer any spectacular advantages
  • b. you can do something about 'em yourself... maybe...
  • c. it's no great calamity if you (or we) are wrong.

UV Poisoning

Sunburn? Statistically one of the most likely reasons why your skin hurts. Well, don't do that. Those of us who got royally sunburnt a few times, as kids - and here, we mean the kind where your back or shoulders were blistered, and the whole thing peeled off after a week or two (what a waste of all that time in the sun...) - we're doomed, apparently to skin cancer. Nothing much to be done now, the damage was done 40, 50, and more years ago, and it's all on automatic. We can hurry it along a little by excessive exposure now, but we can't stop it.

If we were the types who weren't going to get skin-cancer from too-much-too-fast as kids, why we wouldn't have burned at the time. We'd have tanned right away. But even so, a sun-burn at your age is still an unpleasant thing, and it's easy to avoid. We don't need to tell you how not to get burnt in the sun.

Wear a hat, wear some clothes during the middle part of the day, consider using a sunscreen. Anything up to SPF 30 is useful in ordinary circumstances. SPF 50 might be useful if a part of you is a little sun-reddened, and you want to protect that particular spot from further insult while still getting some sun on neighboring areas... Women can do that with an artfully placed scarf, but for a guy that's usually just a bit too precious. Zinc oxide is the best smear-on solution for specific small areas of skin, but it's highly visible (being totally opaque and all). Next-best smear-on is high SPF sunscreen, which is usually clear once you rub it in a bit.

But anything over SPF 50 is a real waste of money, and some rather concentrated harsh chemicals directly on/in your skin. Not recommended. Even an SPF above 30 is not something we'd usually recommend.

Anyway, back to: if you do get sunburnt. If you do, it's your own dang fault, and you also know what to do about it. Stop being in the sun, and apply something soothing to ease the pain until the rosy-red glow dies down and it stops hurting to wear a shirt.

If the over-the-counter sprays and salves are not doing the job, you can try your doctor, who might be able to prescribe something a little more potent, perhaps some steroid-based cream that will take the edge off. Perhaps even an injection to help cut the burning tingle and allow you to sleep until healing takes hold. Really not enough to say here, to warrant a page of its own. If you are lucky, you'll get past the skin hurts part before you get to the skin sloughs off in sheets part.

Never mind my skin hurts - I'm Mellllting!

People say that you should also apply great gobs of moisturizer, to prevent peeling, but that really doesn't work. If you got sufficiently over-exposed to peel significantly, then somewhere between a few days and a week after the event, you'll peel, no matter how diligent you are at marinating yourself in skin cream. If you get past the ten day mark and aren't really peeling, then you didn't really over-expose that much, and the tons of moisturizing goop didn't do anything except lighten your wallet and possibly stain your clothes.

Drink up

If you overdid the sun, you need to get water into you, and repeat. You can certainly run (gently, now) some cool water over your skin to take away some of the sting... though you'll need a friend standing by with the lotions and potions as SOON as you step from the shower (by the way, blot, don't rub with a towel, or just don't bother trying to dry at all... might be easier and less painful). We've found that when a sunburn is bad , the cool running (or immersion) water feels great until about two seconds after it stops, then your skin starts tingling painfully as it hits the dry air. Calomine helps in that situation. As does a not-too-scornful woman with soft, gentle hands. For the lotion, you idiot! Were you thinking of sex while you wanted to rip your own skin off? Jeez! Acquire some perspective, wouldja?

Skin hurts, remember?

Surprisingly, many people find that drinking a lot of water also helps reduce the pain of sunburn. Lubricating from the inside, or something.

Now, sleeping standing up is going to be your biggest challenge. Good luck with that, and next time, wear the hat and shirt.


Pardon us for making the rest of this page basically an introductory stub and shunting you off to real "skin hurts" content pages. It's just that there's nothing much interesting to say under the general keyword, and the specific, useful keywords need each their own page, or stuff will get lost. In other words, if we don't break things up this way, the search engines will be unkind to us, and nobody will ever find the pages.

If your hands are all reddened, fissured, sore, split, find some relief on our

chapped hands and dry cracked hands page.

If it's your lips that dry, split, chapped, have a look at our

dry lips / chapped lips page.

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