If you are like most, you have been spending hours in the summer sun perfecting your tan, reading, going for leisurely strolls along the beach and cat-napping. You are also probably well versed in the art of applying sunblock. I, for one, have different SPFs for different parts of my body; Factor 50 for my face, 35 for my arms & shoulders and 20 for my legs and back. But what about our scalps?
Can You Get a Sunburn on Your Scalp?
I recall a friend telling me how she went hiking in Switzerland, slathered herself from head to toe in sunblock, and got home to find her scalp was very red and sore to the touch. The next morning, it was excruciating to shampoo, and within 4 days, giant flakes had started to work their way down her hair shafts. Lovely! I tut-tutted down the phone, and explained that she was suffering from ‘scorched parting syndrome’. Not a real diagnostic term, but it sums it up pretty well. I asked her to imagine what would happen to her nose if she went into midday sun sans block? Redness, peeling and perhaps blisters. ‘Ah!’ she said, and wondered why she hadn’t connected the dots before. This sensitive part of our body is so often neglected and prone to the same sun associated risks as the rest of us.
Sun Care for Your Scalp
Apart from the unsightly aspect of scalp burns, very seriously, accumulative damage and degradation over the years can eventually lead to skin cancer on your scalp. This is especially true if you have fine or thinning hair, or are bald, as more of your scalp is exposed. It’s a good idea to get yearly checks, and if you notice any lesions, or marks that were not there before or have changed in appearance, bring it to the attention of your dermatologist. Your trusted, long-term hairdresser can also be quite a useful tool with regards to this, as they will see parts of your scalp that you cannot. Ask them to let you know if they see anything suspect, or notice a difference.
Tips on How to Protect Your Scalp From the Sun
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wear a hat, although this can be a bit of a bore when it’s hot and humid.
- Alternatively, you can apply your regular sunblock to your parting.
- I prefer using Philip Kingsley Swimcap Cream. It’s moisturizing, and also guards your hair from sun, salt and chlorinated water discolouration and damage if applied throughout your lengths.
- If you have already burnt your scalp, a hat is an absolute must.
- To soothe mild burns, apply chamomile or an after-sun product recommended by your pharmacist; and for associated flakes and irritation.
- Use our Flaky/Itchy Scalp Shampoo, Flaky Itchy Scalp Toner and No Scent No Colour Conditioner.
- For severe burns, please see your doctor promptly, as there is an increased risk of getting a secondary bacterial infection, which may require topical and/or oral antibiotics.