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Sunburn with horrible Pins and Needles Sensation
Hi...I am a 28 year old female.  I rarely sunburn and can count the number of times on one hand.  However, three days ago, I spent about three hours at the pool.  I covered myself in sunscreen prior to going and while there.  When I came back, it appeared I had a nice tan.  Then, as the hours passed, my back and the back of my legs became very red.  Since I was in the sun, I spent even time on both sides of my body so as to get an even tan, but for some reason only my back side burned.  

The real issue here is that now, after three days, I am experiencing extremely uncomfortable sensations that feel like pins and needles in addition to the fact that the burn hurts to touch, is hot, and red (although some redness has now gone away and some of the heat radiating from the burn has subsided).  Is this normal for a sunburn?  I haven't had enough of them to know really.  But, I have literally been awake all night and in tears because I cannot bear this sensation of pins and needles.  Is there anything that I can do to make this stop?  I am desperate.  I work and cannot function without sleep.  I cannot take off work as right now as I have deadlines that must be completed on time.  Please...is there anything that might help???  This is terrible.

Thank you for assistance.


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Amazing to find this page!
I'm going through the 'severe pins & needles' sensation as I type.
Absolute agony. In my 46 years, I've never felt such agonising pain, which brought me close to tears. It certainly made me shout & swear a lot! The neighbours probably now thing that I have Tourettes Syndrome!
Same as everyone says, this took 2 days after my sunburn, before it started. I've been burned many times in my life; last time, in Spain, I was covered in massive blisters, but never experienced this sensation before.
I got burned on Tuesday, badly (6 hours in full sun, gardening, with no shirt or suncream, stupid me!), & went to the doctor on Wednesday morning. She gave me 'Zerobase', a thick, emollient ointment, which i used yesterday afternoon, and all day today. All was great, until about 4 hours ago (8pm).  I reapplied it to my back & shoulders, and within 20 seconds the stabbing started. MY GOD!! I've never felt anything like it!
I immediately had a very cool shower, & washed off the cream.
I thought that, as I'd prepared a hot curry just before I'd applied the cream, that maybe some spice was on my hands, & had caused the pain, so after showering for 20 mins, & feeling a slight easing of the pain, I reapplied the cream.
I REALLY wish I hadn't! The pain was worse than before. Absolute torture, & if I'd been asked to confess to ANY crime, I'd have done it, just to stop the pain. I really felt like I was going to pass out. I showered again, removed the cream, & covered my back in a cold, wet towel. The pain was no less.
I called my out of hours doctors, & was transferred to a nurse, who told me to take paracetamol, & call back if it got worse. Not much use really.
I chatted to an online friend, who suggested that I try applying natural yoghurt. I put a small amount on a 'test area', & again, within 10 seconds, that area was being stabbed. I quickly washed off the yoghurt, dried the area, & after a few minutes the stabbing died down a bit.
I then googled 'Sunburn Stabbing Needles', & found this page. I feel very relieved to see others have experienced this!! It's absolutely horrible, & I'd not wish the pain on my worst enemy.
Anyway, now that my back is dry, the pain is now at about 5% of what it was, with the odd stabbing pains here & there, some more painful than others, but NOWHERE near as bad as when my back was covered with cream, or water.
As others have said here... KEEP IT DRY!!!!!
I hope it doesn't last too long!

If you have it now, good luck to you, and my last three words are....
KEEP IT DRY!!!!
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We are taking your advice to keep the area dry for my 17 yr old son.  We have tried: vinegar, whipping cream, egg whites, Pure Aloe Vera, 99 Aloe Vera.  The pain is aggravated into severe pins / needles / jabbing knife in spots.  Numerous showers or luke warm baths in between each remedy also does not work. The only relief he has found has been with Advil, Aleve,  and/or Tylenol, and also the Benadryl advice we found in a previous blog on this site.  We are keeping it dry and keeping him medicated to make it through this very rough patch.  The pain is such that there are screams and cries that I have never heard before.  My husband has experienced this a few times before and knows exactly what the feeling is like.  It's not fun.  Someone should find a cure or pill that stops the sensation...
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So glad I came across this post. This same thing happened to me last week. We had just gotten back from the beach. I had a slight sunburn on my back. Nothing horrible. I have had many sunburns before, including some that made me blister. This was just slight pink. On our first night home (about 3 days after I got the sunburn) I woke up with this slight pins and needles sensation on my back. I thought nothing of it and tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. 3 or 4 hours had passed by and it was driving me crazy. I tried putting aloe vera on my back. WORST DECISION EVER! This made it much worse. It felt like someone kept shocking me with a taser on my back in multiple locations at the same time. I tried taking a warm shower, a cold shower, putting lotion on, even just holding the cold aloe vera bottle on my back. Everything just made it worse. I never had anything like this happen to me before, so I looked it up and came across these posts. I saw that Benadryl helped, so I drove to Walgreens at 5am to pick some up. I took 2 and 30 mins later it was still getting worse. I started crying, so much so I woke up my husband. He didn't know what to do either. He read some more blogs that said cold helped. We have tile floor, so I literally laid on the floor with no shirt and rocked side to side so it would calm down. He thought maybe Advil would help, so I took 3. 1 hour later it was still getting worse. I started screaming and crying. I was about ready to run to the ER even though we don't have health insurance. I took one more Benadryl and laid on the bed crying. My husband started rubbing my back gently, and for some reason that helped tremendously! As long as he kept rubbing my back it was tolerable but as soon as he stopped it started all over again. I ended up falling asleep like this and when I woke up about 5 hours later it had stopped. I used to love to be outside and didn't care about wearing sunscreen, but I will NEVER get a sunburn again. This is absolutely the worst pain I have ever felt. Good luck to anyone who is unfortunate enough to get this.
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Before I start, let me preface my advice by saying I am not a doctor, but I have been through this experience twice and can share my insight to help those who are suffering this unexplained malady. I previously had this happen to me 20 years ago, when I returned from a vacation in the Bahamas. My wife put Noxema on my back to moisturize it, and I immediately felt the crazy pins and needles sensation that has been described in this forum. It was pure agony, as I'm sure you all know. I jumped in the shower to wash it off, but when the water was not on it, it still was painful. I called my doctor cousin who suggested Benadryl, and I can't recall exactly what happened, but it eventually went away and I was groggy from the medicine so I was able to sleep somewhat. A few days ago, I was out in  the sun way too long with no sunblock and I got red the same night. I used an aloe vera cream right away and for the next 2 days, it was a painful sunburn but manageable. Last night I came home and it was irritating me, si I applied the same cream as I have been the past 2 days, but this time the pins and needles came back. I immediately recalled that horrible night from 20 years ago. I jumped in the shower and washed off the cream, but I was still in excruciating discomfort. I thought it might have been the cream's additional ingredients that I reacted to, so I tried putting plain Vaseline on, but the pain would not stop. I did not have the benefit of the internet 20 years ago, so I came across this forum and tried some of the suggestions. This is what finally worked for me, no drugs involved at all:

I took a second shower to wash the Vaseline off, using no soap. I tried the hot water as suggested above, but it was too painful on my sunburned areas, so I switched to as cold as I could take without shivering. After the shower I put on a soft robe to pat dry. I then went into a room with a ceiling fan and a tower fan and turned both on. I sat on a chair for about 30 minutes in front and below the fans. Eventually the pain subsided to the point where I could manage it and went to bed within the hour.

This leads me to the following conclusions:

1. If you have had this happen before, you are prone to it, so use sunscreen and take care not to burn.

2. If you do sunburn, anticipate that after about 2-3 days, you will have it recur, so if you start do get the itchy feeling, DO NOT use any creams whatsoever. better to live with a little pain than a lot! It seems that when your skin makes the transition from old to new healthy skin, it triggers receptors in your brain that increase sensitivity to external moisturizers. Interestingly, it seems just touching the area in pain alleviates the situation as if you were scratching it. It must be the brain thinks that you are handling the situation, but it's a false hope as it jumps from place to place.

3. If you are reading this forum, you may be in the middle of an episode so just follow the same steps as I did:

4. Take a cool shower to wash off any lotions or creams. Be prepared to be uncomfortable for about 30-40 minutes after the shower as your skin dries. Therefore it is imperative to get yourself dried off as soon as possible.

5. Remove all clothing or towels over the affected areas, and stay in front of an air conditioner or fan. The sensation should start to lessen as time goes by. Hopefully within 30 minutes your skin will have dried enough to make the situation tolerable.

I hope this helps anyone who is experiencing this horrible ailment. Remember , prevention is a much better alternative. Good Luck to all of you!

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I have the same "after-two-to-three day sun burn stabbing pins and needles". I've had it many times before. I live in New Zealand where you burn after 15 minutes.

I've never tried any of the medical solutions (pain killers, anti-inflammatory, steroids). The only thing that seems to work is a really hot shower, then staying dry and getting distracted by other things.

I also have dermagraphia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermatographic_urticaria. I'd be interested if anyone else on here has it to and if it is related. It's basically a skin condition where you can write on your skin, which I think is basically hyper-localised inflamation.
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I completely understand and know how you felt bc I feel it right this very instant. I went to the beach and was exposed to the sun for several hours and over the next few days my burn was becoming more obvious and really severe. I can barely walk and EVERY time I stand it feels like severe pins and needles in my shins and feet. I also noticed that now if I try to apply creams or even aloe that it burns sooooooo bad. I noticed that not doing anything helps more. I will NEVER ever do this again bc it's completely unbearable and I am having to work this way and stand for 8hrs a night. Ugh I'm miserable. Prayers for anyone going through this bc plain and simple IT HURTS BAD.
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No one understands how bad this is. Every one thinks you are just a big baby. It is so bad. I'm a 30 year old male and have been burnt far worse than this time, yet never have encountered pain like this. You can't think straight, you can't hold a conversation, you just want to break everything in the room. The feeling hurts so bad that you look like you are coming off from some heavy drug. Twisting and stretching your back out trying to some how rip your skin to get out, away.

I'm currently going through this right now but did find some relief... for now but i hope forever. 2 days ago I was working on my car and had taken my shirt off due to heat. I only had it off for 2 hours which I knew I had sunburned but I had no idea what I was in for next. Exactly one hour short of 2 days (from exact time of burn) I started feeling a pricking, stabbing sensation in my back. I had someone wipe lotion on my back because I thought that It was just dry. OMFG I thought I was going to die. (feeling started at 2:30pm. Lotion at 2:45) The feeling became so extreme I started slapping my back thinking it was going to help... nope. Just kept getting worse so I jumped in the shower and turned only the cold water on. (it was already to max pain) The cold water numbed my back but only for about 15 sec max before feelings returned and it hurt again) My roommate ran and got me aloe with pain aid in it.... nope again only increased the pain back to what it was. By this point I was twisting and jolting like if i had turrets. But I had to move because of the pain. Then it got more than i ever thought possible and back into the shower I went. My roommate asked if I wanted to try colimine lotion for the itch and pain.... nope again it was just as bad. I even cried.. and I have had my jaw broke before. This was far worse of a torture than having a broken jaw. I was losing my mind so in the shower i went again. Then my roommate returned with some cream he had gotten for a fungus on his back he had become infected with while serving a term in Irag. It didn't work right away but after 15 min of letting it dry it started to feel better (5pm). The cream is called Ketoconazole It is a steroid with anti fungal. It worked It is now almost 8pm and the pain has disappeared for the moment. I don't know what to expect from the rest of the night but from what I have read I hope it doesn't come back. If it comes back I will put another posting for the rest of the 24 hours. The worst part is no one believes you except those that see you going through it. You will make noises you've never made before. I also had a strong pain pill (perk) and took 4 benedryl. I've had allergic reactions to things before, this is not an allergic reaction. I've never experienced this kind of pain and it is the worst thing I have ever gone through. Breezes make it worse, so do lotions and aloe. I pray none of you have had this happen but if you are reading this I am sure you have or are experiencing it.
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Hi Everyone,

Like many others, I am currently experiencing the dreaded pins and needles. I had it last summer on my chest and it was unbearable. I got burned pretty bad on my back two days ago and the pain started about 4 hours ago.

My solution that i have found has worked very well (I don't know if everyone else can testify to this) was that I wet a facecloth with cold water and just draped it across my back. The pain instantly subsided. When the cloth got too warm from my body heat, i would re-wet it, wring it out and start over. I did this about every half hour. With the cold cloth on, the pain is just gone, so for the past half hour I tried my luck without the cloth on and it seems to have done wonders. I get the occasional sharp jab but those come in increments of about every 5 minutes. I'm trying to head to bed and in the state I'm in, i think i will be able to sleep without the wash cloth. About 3 hours with the cloth on made the issue almost entirely go away.

I know how everyone feels, trust me I was just there. Some people say not to moisten the skin, but this worked very well with me. I sincerely hope this helps!
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My husband just came home work saying that he was feeling like he was being electrocuted. I racked my brain and couldn't think of anything that would help.
He took a cold shower and said it helped a little bit, then to test his theory he turned it to hot and said it hurt like hell but it made the shocking pins and needles go away. He stayed in the HOT shower for about a half hour, and when he got out he said it was much better. He also warns not to use soap, just let the water run on you.
I hope this helps, as it terrified me seeing him like that, I can only imagine actually going through it.
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Hot bath, painkillers, lots of water, antihistamines is what you want.
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I got horribly burned yesterday my legs are bright red  Last night, they felt like they were on FIRE and I could barely bring myself to sleep today the burning was feeling better. When I got out of bed and stood up, however, my legs nearly gave out on me I spent most of my day today in bed and tried to get up whenever I could to try and walk  I've been drinking a lot of liquids puting yogurt on my legs when is day and aloe vera gel on the night  i have try many thing but nothing wont work a friend told me try to jump as hight as u can i jumped 5 times and for some minuts my pain  was gonn  i hope i will recover fast but the pain so painfullllllllll :(
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Day 2 : i'm feeling better  but still the same pain when i stand up so i was so mad that i have think to go to  work yeah **** idea but helped me alot worked 9 hours of work like 5-8 times it got me  so bad the pain but still okay now when i stand up i dont have that pain anymore but when i stay still and dont move it start again i think to go tomorrow to a doctor and to cure faster because i cant wait anymore !!!
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day 3 : i was to doctor and   i got a inject and im feeling better now the pain time have stopped :D:D:D im so happy yeah i will see tomorow i need and one other inject to get and i will ask for the name of that inject :)
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Just had this for the first time.  Absolutely hands down worse than a when I broke my collar bone in half.  I put some silver sulfadiazine on it, and also solarcaine, and quickly was in the shower washing it off. The burn is nothing near what I have had in the past, and I got a good deal of burns doing construction.  This is the first time I have ever had this pain, and it was this afternoon (Tuesday) when it started.  Got burnt Sunday afternoon at the lake.  I like others stated have a high pain threshold.  This about made me pass out.  Read through everything and called my doctor 15 minutes before he closes hoping to get a small bottle of pain pills in case this happens again.  I had veins popping out of my neck, head, and chest from how bad that paid was.  Seen blue splotches in the chest as well.  My muscles were as tight as they could get from the pain.  Left a cold damp cloth on which helped kill the pain to a level I could actually just pace around from the pain.  I am now sitting with my shirt off and can still feel the pain slightly, the pins and needles on my chest and front shoulders.  Just nasty is all I can say...
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Like a couple had mentioned I would not wish this on my worst enemy for more than 10 second. I am currently going through it but not at its peak. I was constantly applying aloe Vera the last 2 days because this is the 4th!!!! Time I've had this happen to me and I can't imagine I will let it happen again but what are we supposed to be vampires? Wear a long sleeve in the sun? Run and frickin hide? Never get a ******good tan? The feeling is like most have described pricking of needles or tacks or other small Sharp objects, some are sudden jolts of almost electricity like a stun gun. Also good luck trying to scratch because it is quite painful, mind you I am a 25 year old male with multiple injuries that induce pain into my life and consider myself highly tolerable to it. Anyway this is different, this is way @##@=/$&$*&÷ING different. I imagine it like if I was a piece of wood and have been thrown into a termite nest. It's literally unbearable and like many other I curse and make unspeakable noises. It is mentally draining to say the very least but it still won't allow you to sleep?!@!#! $@ Anyway enough b!@$hing and time for my remedies. I know it's going to sound crazy based on what the rest of the many people have said and it will absolutely suck for the first 25-35 minutes but (for me at least) Aloe Vera works but you really have to fight through it. Showers for me make it worse and actually brought it out this time around but I did use soap. I thought I was in the clear because it's been almost 60 hours since my sunburn was acquired. I have been putting Aloe Vera spray and lotion on for the passed 2 days. Trying to remedy the feeling before it comes. Not the case. It comes, and it comes during the recovery period that's why it can hit you 3 days later even. Your skin is pissed the EF off because you let it burn...and how could you? Poppy **** like I said before are we supposed to run and hide in the summer? Mind you I put on 2 layers of spray on 30 SPF lotion and 2 stints with a 15 during the 4-5 hours of beach bumming mixed in with 45 minutes of water time and still, still this hellish torture. IDK what really works and if I did it wouldn't be on this forum(I was unable to find a forum the last 2 times I checked) especially because everyone is different but what helps me is Aloe Vera  lotion and any moisturizing lotion and somehow fighting through the excruciating torture. Anyway I hope I was able to help a little. This forum helped distract and comfort me because of the fact that I am not the only 1 effected by this heinous reaction but if you have made it this far I hope you never get it again.
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Oh and I can not have any type of forced air on the bare skin of the affected area...I need a shirt on hand down.  I have paced I have yelled I have tried to scratch on my sand painted walls and wow what pain followed and then again with the feeling of bugs eating your skin from the inside out!!! AHHH!!!!!
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I'm 25 year old male, My first recall of the pain was the day of my 16th birthday,
3 days after sun exposure i was having a bath to get ready for my birthday party. I noticed a terrible tingling feeling moving around my back, When i tried to get out i thought i had a reaction to soap. And couldn't handle the pain so i got back in the bath to wash off.

I spent the next 4 hours or more in the bath because nothing else worked, until i ran out of hot water then i sat in a cold bath. i took every drug i had till i passed out, i would of done whatever it took to get out of the pain. woke up the next evening still tingly but layed in bed till it went away 24hrs later.

Yes! The worse pain ive ever experienced. felt like a ICE addict scratching and twitching and screaming.trust me i had the family scared.

This is not normal symtoms,i understand the heat and stinging after sun exposure and i felt that too, But this an additional pain that onlt experience victoms can imagine. no oil or cream works! infact makes it exellerate as described. and yes noone understands, It also affected me mentally and wore me down, Very underestimated what ever it is!

I have had this a handful of times in the past,But never again on my back, Only on my legs and arm which is managable not worth the risk. But i am really worried if it happens again.

currently going through it on my legs onto the 2nd day of stabbling and tingling pain but its nowhere near the torture of my back that day. i noticed lastnight i had a warm bath with vinegar and pepermint and bi carb soda, (small amounts) and felt ok after. id try anything to fix this.

Im wondering,
intense UV might play a part being from Australia
If anyone has tried building up exposure to the sun slowly and does the help.

interesting to find other out there similar as i though it was a early sign of cancer or another serious problem in the bigger picture.


Thanks!


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This is happening to me for the first time in my life tonight.  Got burnt 3 days ago while working outside with no top on. My whole back is very burnt, but I usually never peal as whenever I get burnt I apply aloe vera and all is good in a few days.  Tonight I got home from work, my back was tender all day but this horrible sensation didn't start untill AFTER I had a shower.  OH MY GOD THE PAIN!  I stupidly applied aloe vera to my wet skin thinking I need to keep it moist.. HUGE MISTAKE!  After an hour or so of screaming and almost driving to the hospital I came to the page and decided to just leave it.  So far the sensations have died down but my back is still very sensitive.  My only advice is DO NOT SHOWER, DO NOT PUT CREAMS ON IT, DO NOT GET IT WENT, DO NOT SCRATCH IT.   Three panadols and a 1/4 bottle of whisky seems to have subdued it a little,  I have faith it will go away if I just leave it alone.  

Again for the love of god do NOT put any lotions on it!
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This is happening to me for the first time in my life tonight.  Got burnt 3 days ago while working outside with no top on. My whole back is very burnt, but I usually never peal as whenever I get burnt I apply aloe vera and all is good in a few days.  Tonight I got home from work, my back was tender all day but this horrible sensation didn't start untill AFTER I had a shower.  OH MY GOD THE PAIN!  I stupidly applied aloe vera to my wet skin thinking I need to keep it moist.. HUGE MISTAKE!  After an hour or so of screaming and almost driving to the hospital I came to the page and decided to just leave it.  So far the sensations have died down but my back is still very sensitive.  My only advice is DO NOT SHOWER, DO NOT PUT CREAMS ON IT, DO NOT GET IT WENT, DO NOT SCRATCH IT.   Three panadols and a 1/4 bottle of whisky seems to have subdued it a little,  I have faith it will go away if I just leave it alone.  

Again for the love of god do NOT put any lotions on it!
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How long did the pins and needles sensation last I have it now and I can sit still for 20 seconds without it tingling?
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How long did the pins and needles sensation last I have it now and I can sit still for 20 seconds without it tingling?
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Had my first experience with this. 58 yrs old, always tanned well and if I got burnt, it was back to tan the next day, rarely even peeled. two days ago I got what I can only describe as a relatively mild burn on my chest. Put some aloe on it that night, no problems, aloe on it yesterday, no problems. Went out on a power walk late this afternoon at the other end of the beach and at the end of a sweaty four mile walk on the beach, the pins and needles started. Had to stop the car on the way back to the condo and hop out and rip my wet shirt off.  drove with the windows all the way down, holding the seatbelt off my chest so it didn't touch. Ran right into the shower when I got back to the condo, no help. dried off and put baby powder on it, no help. Tried aveeno, no help. took a couple antihistamines and aleves (washed down with beer) and 7 hours later starting to feel some relief. not normal, but not what it was, that's for sure...

One thing I noticed reading the other posts is that it seems to affect people most who only get burnt on one part of the body -- the chest, the back, the legs. Don't know if anyone who has been burnt all over has had this, but it seems like thats the exception.Anyone else agree?
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OK so I've had this happen to me three times. I'm on the back half of the fourth as we speak. I've been racking my brain trying to come up with some type of why. The closest thing to anything making any sense is the random itching sensation you get on a normal day. It's not painful but it itches so you scratch it. This is caused by the brain reacting to a group of dead skin cells that did not fall off on its own, therefore the brain gives you the itching sensation and you scratch it off. Well the pins and needles sensation could be just amplified itching sensations because our burnt dead skin is dying too quickly to fall off and the nerve endings that give the sensations are fried from said burn. It makes sense to me and sadly it also makes me feel like there is no way to cure/stop the pain since it's coming from the inside. I could be way off but for anyone that alas to deal with this I have a few words of advice. 1. Don't touch/itch/scratch in any way shape or form. You will regret it in the worst way. 2. I have found that a warm shower helps if you get into scratching and hell takes over. 3. Don't apply any anythings. 4. I'm so sorry. You literally have to sit there and focus on not reacting. It's mentally draining in the worst way. I hope I have helped.
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It sounds crazy but get in the shower and use the hottest water you can handle. Barely pat dry then air dry the rest. Don't rub the skin in any way! I just went through this a week ago and literally thought I was going to die! Staying in hot water was the only relief I could truly get. Also, a very hot tea bath will help. I feel sorry for anyone whom is going through this. Hope you all find relief!
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I'm so glad I'm not the only poor soul that goes through this horrible episode of pain.

Unbearable isn't even the word. I wouldn't wish this sensation upon my greatest enemy.
I live in Canada, and here in Ontario the summers are hot. I'd always get sunburnt as a child, but never had this issue. Once I hit 13, I started getting this wretched sensation after getting a sunburn. It would kick in the 2nd or 3rd day after the initial sunburn, and boy, I let everyone know about every second of pain I was feeling. No one in my family knew how to handle me, or how to help. They'd just watch me go through it from the sidelines. I wanted help, I begged for it.

At the time, the only two things that helped calm it down was having one industrial fan blowing at me from the front, and one behind me. And I'd just cry through it.
I rarely cry, and when I do, that's how you know there's something really wrong with me. It would finally go away after a good hour. I'd be so exhausted from the pain that I'd pass out for the rest of the day. And, I'd stay out of the sun for the rest of the summer.

I've had about 5 of these episodes since. One time about 3 summers ago, it started. After I was initially burnt, I carelessly didn't apply moisturizer to keep my skin from getting tight and too dry. So, my skin looked like ******* crocodile skin by the 3rd day. Very sore! I applied lotion to it, it was the Johnson & Johnson's baby lotion in the pink bottle. Almost instantly the pins and needles took over! I couldn't stand it. I jumped in the cool shower in hopes to soothe it, but it worsened it. I got out
and then sat infront of my fan bawling my eyes out on the edge of my bed. Then, passed out.

Just last summer, I got my first sunburn of the season and everything was going well until day 4, I felt like I was on the verge of an episode and then I quickly applied APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. The sh*t saved my life! I was able to tan every sunny day last year, without an issue, and didn't even have to apply the vinegar. I realized that for me, once I get that first sunburn with the pins and needles one time, the rest of the burns are completely fine for the rest of the summer. I was able to achieve a beautiful, dark glowing tan for the first time ever! My skin became so used to sun exposure, that I didn't even get the regular sunburn feeling anymore, nor would my skin be red, it would just be super brown! And I have British and Scottish DNA, so maybe that contributed to my terrible episodes.

Now, today, it's starting to get hot again in Ontario Canada, and of course I have a sunburn again, it's about day 3, and after my shower I felt like I was going to have another episode. We didn't have any apple cider vinegar, so I just applied plain white vinegar, and then put Vaseline over that (the petroleum jelly type). I am trying to lay down and take it easy, and not move so much. I feel okay, but I do feel the odd pinchy sensation every so often. Once I pass this, I'll let my skin relax and then try to get tan again. It ***** being here because the winters are so long and snowy, and my tan fades very quickly. So it's like I have to start all over again every April-May, and my skin goes through those terrible episodes. Where if I lived somewhere that was constantly hot and sunny, my skin would be used to it and this wouldn't keep happening. Ugh.  

Time to pick up and move to Hawaii, LOL!

Anyways, sorry about the rant, just wanted to share my experiences. All in all, always have apple cider vinegar, a fan and Vaseline petroleum jelly on hand whether you're on vacation, at home, or just stupid and get a wicked sunburn. Not everyone goes through this, and no one will understand it. I've tried to explain it to my sisters, but they just laugh and make fun of me. So I've stopped trying to explain...

Good luck to us idiots who get sunburns and go through this!!!!
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Been hurting from sunburn for 4 days on neck shoulders and back I hurt badly my first time sunburn
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Interesting, my husband gets the prickly stabbing 2-3 days after sunburn on his back, and although she doesn't suffer the same sun burn related problem, his sister has demographia. Something in the genes maybe?
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I have had this all my life. Amazing to find this forum as no one has ever understood! As people have said, you cannot explain. Is it raw and sore? Yes! But it's not that! Pins and needles, being electrocuted go someway to describing it but as everyone on this forum knows, torture is the only word that can truly do it justice. it is not pain as such, not itchiness, simply torture. Anyways, you are all here looking for a solution to this torture. I'm afraid I cannot offer you one. However, as someone who has suffered from this maybe twenty times in their life, I can offer some insights. I am not a doctor.
- It is certainly to do with the nerve endings. It will come on as the skin is starting to regenerate, before peeling, this for me is usually 2-3 days after I have been burnt. It helps mentally, to think of it as a healthy process, as the skin regenerating. That is what you are feeling, your new skin growing!
- As it is the nerves that are causing this torture, anything that can help deaden their sensitivity will help - strong pain etc - especially if they can be administered without touching the skin (seek advice from your doctor/pharmacist)
- Traditional sunburn remedies do not help, such as Aloe Vera as you are touching the nerve endings and irritating them, it may feel good whilst you are applying, and very briefly after as you are 'scratching an itch' but the nerve endings will be irritated and the sensation will come on ten fold
- this is the same for showering and baths - it will relieve the sensation while you are in the water and shortly after as it is all encompassing and distracting but as soon as you are out your nerve endings are on fire! People have mentioned hot showers, and in my experience this works briefly only because the heat sensation is a distraction for your nerve endings.
- the torture is worse in places not used to sun exposure - I have never had it on my face, for example, and only once on my arms when they were very badly burnt but it was easily tolerable. It is always severe on my back and chest, especially my back, places not used to consistent sun exposure.
- I have never tried vinegar. Thanks for that, will try, but I am not convinced unless it has been shown to have some deadening effect on the nerves.
- It helps me, to find distractions, to try and focus the mind on something else and think of it as a severe battle of wills, although I admit, the torture is so severe that it is almost impossible not to return to the 'pain' (pain, I know, does not do this sensation justice - the best I can do is the feeling of your skin growing!)
- it might be worth noting that I have very fair skin and I was burnt very badly when I was eight, I don't remember having this sensation then, it is only the subsequent times I have been burnt - maybe this is some kind of warning from your body, not to get burnt again!  
- worth noting that the torture will stop/lesson as your skin is starting to peel, usually between 24-48 hours
Sorry I can't be much help, especially as this is the first time I have googled this - I haven't been burnt in about 6 years (I am, for obvious reasons, very careful)  - and I haven't tired some solutions such as steroids which would not usually be prescribed here in the UK, but I am certain, anecdotally and without any medical expertise or research, that it is the nerves causing this torture, and anything that can be safely administered/prescribed from your doctor/pharmacist that helps with nerve deadening/pain relief, will help.
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I've now had a google. I few suggestions that this could be associated with a virus and so it is also worth noting that I had chicken pox as a child (some suggestion that it is related) as well as back problems. Anyhow, I decided to post again as the only answer, I am sure is drugs that work to deaden the nerve endings/disrupt the pain receptor messages from your skin nerve endings to your brain. This is why ice - numbing the nerve endings - will work temporarily as it is numbing the nerve endings (not recommended, as the relief will only be temporary, and again, the sensation feels ten fold as the nerve endings start to wake up again). I am sure local atheistic would work, but obviously is not practical and would be dangerous. Anyway, the only solution, I am sure are drugs! :) Drugs, which stop the nerves in your skin sending pain messages to the brain. I have always been burnt abroad (it is always raining in the UK) so have usually got over the counter pain relief, which has helped, but this requires something stronger, so go to your doctor/pharmacist now! It is the only solution.
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So thankful I've found some people who understand. I got this Hells itch for the first time when I was 10 and my parents thought I was overreacting. Overreacting is acting as if Satan himself was possessing me. Only when did I get it again when I was 16 did they start thinking that it's a problem. I remember both times vividly. It was the last day of school when I was 16 and went to the beach with my friends. Afterwards I noticed I was pink. No biggy, I've gotten sunburns before. Throw some aloe on it and watch some tv. When I woke up the next morning, it was the most painful 24 hours I've ever experienced. You run out of tears because the horrible pain is too much. My stepmother rubbed every gloop she could think of on my burns and as everyone else says, it only made it worse. The only solace was pressing my back against the cold walls and moving to a new spot when it started to flare up again. Eventually I found peppermint oil would be of some relief but by the time I put it on, it was towards the end of the 24 hour reign of terror so I can't give a good say if it worked or not. My only advice, get special medical sunscreen to ensure it'll never happen again. This pain I'd never put on my worst enemy. Sadly, I'm here right now as I forgot to put sunscreen on my legs after a 6 hour boat ride. Give me strength my comrades, for I fear the worst.
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Yea After reading the comments while in the pain right now I tried icing myself, aloe, cold shower, pain killers, and benadryl. None of them worked. Any kind of creme will make it worse so just dont try. When I first read hot shower or bath I was like it cant be true because a hot shower hurts after being sun burnt. However I tried a hot shower and I felt so much better the pins and needles pain was gone with minor pain of hot water touching the sun burnt area. I dont know how but how shower is the best solution or hot bath. Bring in something to watch while in the bath cause you will be there for a while.
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It seems there is one thing in common here. We all have used some kind of moisterizer after getting burned. I am 52 and have been burned many times, but this time it was a mild burn and very managable. I applied aloe cream for 3 days and then suddenly after a cool shower tonight it happned, a hundred pins all over my back. Not fun. I jumped back in the shower and removed the cream thinking that it was some alergic reaction, but that did not work. Only after taking another HOT shower did I get some relief. Now as I write, it is still there but not so crazy. So hot showers do work, but my feeling is that there might be something in the creams we are using to treat our burns that only reacts negatively with the body after a few days, or as has been pointed out, when the new skin starts to form
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It seems there is one thing in common here. We all have used some kind of moisterizer after getting burned. I am 52 and have been burned many times, but this time it was a mild burn and very managable. I applied aloe cream for 3 days and then suddenly after a cool shower tonight it happned, a hundred pins all over my back. Not fun. I jumped back in the shower and removed the cream thinking that it was some alergic reaction, but that did not work. Only after taking another HOT shower did I get some relief. Now as I write, it is still there but not so crazy. So hot showers do work, but my feeling is that there might be something in the creams we are using to treat our burns that only reacts negatively with the body after a few days, or as has been pointed out, when the new skin starts to form

I was using the Banana Boat Aloe After Sun.
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Hi Mandy
I can echo all of the comments above and confirm that this is a very painful form of sunburn. My son has it presently, we are on holiday in Barbados. He has what looks like medium sunburn, a red back but no blisters. The Doctor prescribed anti-inflams, burn cream and a mild steroid. I'm not sure if that has helped, certainly the cream seemed to set it off again. He is literally being driven crazy by this. All of the above is true : Creams make it worse, cold compress helps somewhat, he's just out of a hot shower and feels a bit better. Before reading the posts above we were quite sceptical, now we fully understand how he is feeling. Good luck every one. He's smiling again after the hot shower !
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I can say how thankful i am for this thread with my story. I went to the beach 2 days ago. I got burned im talking fire burn from the sun. Anyway my mom suggested we go see a movie with my family and i said sure. While she was getting ready i applied routine aloe vera to my burns. If i could take that moment back i would. Hell's itch set in imediately. Instantly i ran to the shower running my mom out of the only functioning bathroom in the house. I have been in the bath for 3 hours and am afraid for life to leave. Baking Soda and hot water have become my only friends. And for anyone seeking refuge and confirmation in my words. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!!!
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Had my first experience today of what I now know is referred to as the 'Hell's itch', following sunburn 48 hours earlier.  It started from out of nowhere with pins & needles that progressed over a couple of hours to an almost unbearable and unrelenting level of stabbing pain all over my sunburned back.  So much so that it got to the point where I was on my knees practically screaming in pain which resembled a level experienced when I had previously broken bones, no joke it was excruciating.  No amount of after-sun cream, stone cold showers, ice packs or painkillers would even take the edge of the pain and if anything irritated it further.  

Just at the point of losing my mind and considering a trip to A&E I frantically searched the internet for any kind of help and found the holy grail cure. HOT SHOWERS!!!!!!!.  

Turned the shower to >40 Degrees and stayed in for 15 mins, initially it was painful but then after about 5 mins all pain completely disappeared with such an overwhelming sense of relief.  Within 1 hour some pins and needles returned but were completely non painful and stayed that way for a further 3 hours.  Took a precautionary second shower before bed and that was the 'Hells Itch' finished for good.  

For reference, after the first shower I took one 180mg Fexofenadine Hydrochloride (strong antihistamine) tablet which I usually take for hives following hay fever.  However the true extent to which this had an effect over that of the shower is debatable but I would still advise.
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Get least 10lbs of ICE, put in ziplock bags, lay bags on back or where pins/needles are. Pain pills too. Keep ice on for at least an hour. If after removing ice you start feeling pins/needles come back, put ice back on for another hour. This always works for me.
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So glad I found this thread, I thought I was crazy.  I just experienced the pins and needles sensation or "hell's itch" (I think that one sums it up) yesterday after getting a rather mild sunburn on my back 24 hours before.  I have had many sun burns, once even to the point of blistering, but never had this sensation after.  I am 49 years old, so, really a fair number of burns over my lifetime.  I had some one scratch my back for me, and that is when I first noticed this sensation.  So, I had them put Aloe lotion on my back--bad idea!  That is when it really took off and I had to immediately jump in the shower.  At first I thought I was having an allergic reaction, and expected to see hives start to form.  But, no hives.  The only relief came from being shirtless and standing in front of a window unit air conditioner.  Once calmed, it isn't too bad, as long as nothing is touching the area. It did get a lot better the next day--at least I could wear a shirt.  If it happens again I may try the hot bath idea--but I am a little afraid to even to that.  Sounds like I just may have to wait it out.
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My daughter  had the same thing happen tonight and so glad I found this forum.  We did put cortisone cream at first and than saw that cream was the worst thing so I had made some tea thinking it would draw out the sunburn and that took the cream off.  I than saw the post about some powder and went and grabbed some Gold Bond medicated powder and it worked wonders.  At first she said it felt hot but than I spent the next hour sprinkling it on her back and light
patting it lightly with a don't laugh but a fuzzy sock. We put a fan on for about 15 min but it made her too cold.  The Gold bond powder took the edge off.  She said she could faintly feel it coming back so I would sprinkle more powder on. She went from crying and having the worst pain ever to just mild discomfort.  Luckily we had pain meds  and she took one.  She is down sleeping. Whatever this is it is terrible.   She did get sunburn Monday and this was the 4th day like everyone was saying 3 or 4 days.  She didn't have sunscreen on and normally takes a bath in the stuff.  Her sunburn really wasn't that bad but I guess that doesn't matter.
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HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL.......I'm so thankful for this thread. Gives me complete justification for my erratic and insane behavior in front of my wife and kids. Now that the burning needles slowly being inserted to every square  inch of my back have subsided I was able to compose myself enough to find this thread. Having a lifetime of sports injuries from shoulder separations, blown out knees, multiple surgeries, broken arms, to slipped disks I feel like they all pale in comparison to those damn satan needles. Like everyone else the needles came 48 hrs after my sunburn. My fire needles came right after I got out of the shower and I thought that might have been what triggered it. I felt like all sense of rationality abandoned me. I was like a crazy possessed person running around the house saying things I didn't know I was capable of saying. Really the worst part about it was the lack of sympathy I got from my wife. All she could say was "thank goodness you don't have to have kids"....... I'm pretty certain this is worse than child birth. Pure torture!!! The only thing that seemed to help a little was the cold. I would go from the ice cold shower to strings of otter pops laid on my back to laying over the AC unit. I repeated this for what seemed like an eternity and it seemed to subside for the time being. I also applied apple cider vinegar from my wifes recommendation because apparently she had this "same" thing when she was a kid and that helped her (yeah right). Anyone who knows......knows!!! I will be applying 100 sunblock for the rest of my life to avoid ever going through this again. God help you if are going through this and please take pity and sympathy if you have a loved one going through this.......you have NO idea the hell they are in!!!!
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Hells Itch!!  Wonderfully describes this torture
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I am currently going through the 'Hell's Itch' and can only agree with everyone that it is the worst thing ever. I am 22 years old and never had to take pain killers in my life no matter (I am doing bodybuilding which made me pain tolerant, especially the pain related to muscle recovery and injuries) what but this 'Itch' made me desperate. It certainly is pins and needles with occasional stabbing, which last a couple of seconds and make you arch your back (my burn is on the back by the way - it is burnt more severely on the lower back but the pins and needles and in the upper part). The skin is already turning brown with only a little of pinkness left on it, which would normally be the end of a sunburn. I even managed to do a session of training yesterday and it certainly wasn't anything like the 'Hell's Itch'.

It started 37 hours after the sunburn and the stabbing woke me up at 5 am in the morning today. Tried some after sun lotion - HUGE MISTAKE!!! Then tried to find some help on the internet and thanks to you people I was able to stop running around the house like an ex drug addict. First I tried cold shower (30mins) and bath (20mins), which relieve it for the moment but once you finish the pins and needles are back.  However, what helped me to reduce the pain to a manageable level was - HOT SHOWER!!!. Only 10mins in the hot shower (gradually made it warmer) helped A LOT. I let the water dry off naturally (which took about 20 mins). The first minute after the shower was wonderful, no pain at all. It slowly  started to come back and in 10 minutes it was already as bad as it got (however, it was manageable and much, much, much better). An hour later I took some pain killers, which made me pass out for a couple of hours.

In my experience, DO 1. take a hot shower - I tried it after reading this thread and it helped me. 2. Try to limit your movements. 3. Knock yourself out with something (drugs, alcohol or whatever works for you) but it only helps by keeping you unconscious while the time passes.
DO NOT. 1. Apply any creams or lotions; 2. Rub the area or scratch it.

At the time of writing 9 hours have passed since the beginning of the sensation and I hope it does not come back to it's peak. I can only hope it will be over in 24-36 hours as mentioned by you guys.
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How long does this last? My 14 year old son is having this same issue. He burned three days ago.  He gets 20-30 min of intense pain, which seem like his nerves are attacking him.  We went to Urgent care, they gave him steroids and an antibiotic.  No help.  We went to the ER, with my son having hell's itch while there, and the doctor told me it is psychological and that my son is exaggerating for attention. My son can handle pain.  Note we live in florida, so doctors commonly see sunburns.  They gave him 2 Xanax, discharged us, and he finally fell asleep once home at 2:30 am.  They wrote him a 1 day prescription of ativan.  I assume today will be equally bad.  How long will this last?
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Hi I am like this now but I learned from the hospital that aleo vera with lidocaine in it actually helps with this pain and feeling yes it may itch but to scratch it just pat it but it actually helps u sleep due to the fact that lidocaine is a topical pain killer and trust me it works and lukewarm water baths with baking soda in it helps as well thanks to this aloe vera after sunburn with lidocaine and vitamins A&E I have been able to sleep and do what I need to do don't applly this more than 3 or 4 times a day tho but in my opinion if it's a small area then do it as often as u like but space it out also some fabrics can be causing it to feel like pins and needles wearing clothes to tight or to big can irritate it and make it itch worse so be careful of how ur clothes fit
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I had this a few summers ago, and I know the terrible feeling.  Here is a link to a Reddit page that seems to have some helpful advice for this hell's itch.  https://www.reddit.com/r/HellsItch/
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So I get this about once a summer, almost any time I burn. The writhing, twitching, contorted body. The mental breakdown and tears while you are sitting through what can only be described as torture. I have an incredibly high tolerance to pain and this utterly cripples me for hours.

Know how I managed to solve the problem? And I don't mean tolerate, I mean solve?

I get drunk. Well, maybe not drunk but buzzed. It sounds juvenile but ******* if it doesn't work, and quickly. The booze numbs my nerve endings and dehydrates me. Typically two glasses of bourbon neat or on the rocks does the trick, and lasts long enough that the sensation subsides. If I feel it start to come back? No problem, pour another. I'm not joking, if you've experienced this you know it's not a laughing matter.

NO CREAMS, NO ALOE, NO HOT WATER, NO COLD WATER, NO SCRATCHING. Just a few stiff drinks stops it right in its tracks for me.
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So I get this about once a summer, almost any time I burn. The writhing, twitching, contorted body. The mental breakdown and tears while you are sitting through what can only be described as torture. I have an incredibly high tolerance to pain and this utterly cripples me for hours.

Know how I managed to solve the problem? And I don't mean tolerate, I mean solve?

I get drunk. Well, maybe not drunk but buzzed. It sounds juvenile but ******* if it doesn't work, and quickly. The booze numbs my nerve endings and dehydrates me. Typically two glasses of bourbon neat or on the rocks does the trick, and lasts long enough that the sensation subsides. If I feel it start to come back? No problem, pour another. I'm not joking, if you've experienced this you know it's not a laughing matter.

NO CREAMS, NO ALOE, NO HOT WATER, NO COLD WATER, NO SCRATCHING. Just a few stiff drinks stops it right in its tracks for me.
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HOT SHOWERS OR BATHS!!! I had the same "hells itch" in Mexico 3 years ago and am now stupidly in the same position experiencing It again only this time in Thailand, anything cold drives me crazy....Air con, bath or showers, towels, after sun, sudocreme and other lotions, just stick to a HOT as you can bare shower or bath for half an hour at at time and be patient, the affected area still tingles for a while but the sensation of someone driving pins deep into your (in my case back) is lessened massively and will all go away I found in a few hours, hope this helps anyone reading it.
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I have had this 3 times in my life and I am no baby but I am DEATHLY afraid of the sun now because of this feeling. My father called me a baby, my wife thought I was just burnt and a baby.  Until tonight.  When my son got the same reaction.  The twisting contortions movements.  And my son has the highest pain tolerance we have ever witnessed.   He didn't flinch when his appendix burst.  No lie.  He is flipping out now.  I bought benzocaine 20% spray and calydrl clear lotion.  This is day 2 after burn.  Just like mine.  It is working for him so far.  I wish my father ran out an bought up Walgreens to help.  I will post tomorrow.   I hope he doesn't go through more of what I and others did.  This was horrific for me and for us to watch with him.  Anyone know a medical term for it?  Seems like it's not just burn but a a sensitivity to the burn.  I am Italian with olive skin.  He is part Italian.   Anyone else here have a particular ethnicity or sKim pigmentation that might explain the sensitivity?
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I just had the same sort of feeling two nights ago for the first time with a sunburn. The way I described it to my wife was like being electrocuted over and over again in a few spots. A cold shower directly on the painful areas was somewhat helpful but the ultimate answer appeared to be Benadryl anti-itch cream. It took about 30 minutes to start working, but thankfully it did. I was about to have my wife call 911 because I had never felt pain like that before (sunburn or not).
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Thanks so much for recommending hot water. I honestly thought a hot shower would add more burning sensation to the sunburn but infact took the pain away. I only happened to try it as a last resort as the aloe gel and moisturiser turned into a sharp prickly heat which pulsed across my back, chest and stomach. I couldn't bare it for much longer so jumped in the shower and turned to heat to roughly 40 degrees. Funny enough I didn't experience any burning sensation but slowly felt the pickling fade away within minutes. I don't understand why this works and why Google's "best ways to stop sun burn" is using creams and cold heat which only added further pain and irritation. Thanks to your comments I can now soothe the pain
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Paracetamol and a good antihistamine are very good for this excruciatingly painful pins and needles sensation brought on by the sun
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The antihistamine in tablet form works best...
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Thank You to everyone who posted before me; so glad to know I'm not alone with this!  I have had this twice now; this is my 2nd experience.  I found some relief drinking TONS of Gatorade and water to stay hydrated, and I took  800 MG Tylenol PM, combined with 800 MG Advil or Aleve liquid-gels but did not take meds on an empty stomach--  I was sure to eat first. I know I cannot / will not sleep for 2 days until this passes.  I might "pass out" from exhaustion and get a little sleep, but it won't be much.  I will try to get some Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton Allergy 12 hour oral tablet) tomorrow and hope that helps too.  The pins & needles really ARE quite beyond belief!  In fact, my first experience I was in the Army and they threatened me with court-martial if I insisted on going to sick call with a sunburn, but the pins & needles were INSANE so I said I didn't care (they never did, but I would have willingly been tried because the pain was too extreme to not seek help.)  Luckily it does pass and clear up in just 2-3 days so think how good you'll enjoy your sleep then.  In the interim, dear Lord I offer up my pain as a sacrifice for all those who are suffering with this condition but do not have the internet or did not think to search here; we know they are alone and in agony, and I ask that my suffering may be acceptable to you for their benefit, oh Lord-- please help them!  Please Lord give some relief (and sleep) to them who need it the most.  Amen.
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It really seems to be the back area is where all of these sensations are happening. Well I would call them much worse things, but lets stick to sensations.  I just spent 3 full 14 hour shifts outside at a festival I was working, got pretty burnt, but nothing likes Hell's Itch.. It's been 2 days now since I took my shirt off doing yard work for ONE HOUR and I swear if I'm never taking my shirt off again outside. No matter what I think of physically I can destroy with my bare hands, NOTHING will help this pain!!!! After convulsing sround the house and screaming for a bit, I decided to take a pretty hot shower. IT WORKS. Apple cidar vinegar worked for the day aftet the burn. Mainly for the heat and pain. But ANY LOTION OR ALOE OR SCRATCHING DOES NOT WORK ONCE THE PINS AND NEEDLES DECIDE TO SHOW UP. Cidar made it immediately worse. Aloe? Not a chance. Hot shower? Felt like I could stand there all day and be fine. After the shower I was good for about an hour. They came right back... I've read on the other answers that multiple showers help them go away for good. I just finally put calamine lotion on my back and it seems to be bearable...to an extent. Discomforting, but bearable for now. Pressure seems to help too. I play xbox and in my chair it doesn't hurt that bad. I'm also now laying on my towel to slightly scratch my back as the pins and needles arise. Tomorrow is another hot shower before work. Guys, if you are like me and didn't want to shower because of it hurting more, TAKE ONE! My dad also said it may be my skin scrunching up and drying out, but it feels like the worlds sharpest knives and just pricking my back all over! Hell's Itch is a nive way of putting this torture.. Do not wish this on anyone. Take heed of my words and you may just survive this abomination.
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