Can You Workout With a Sunburn in 2024? Surprising Insights

Sunburn can be painful, but does it have to sideline your exercise goals? “Can You Workout With a Sunburn? Surprising Insights” discusses the dos and don’ts of exercising with sun-damaged skin.

Can You Workout With a Sunburn?

The Impact of Sunburn on Physical Activity

When you get a sunburn, your skin is cooking from UV radiation exposure, which can lead to pain, swelling, and sensitive skin. These symptoms can make your usual workout routine feel more challenging.

Since sunburn affects your body’s ability to regulate temperature, overheating is a risk—especially if you’re pushing for that extra mile. Additionally, as your skin works to heal from this damage, it can also affect how you sweat, potentially disrupting your body’s natural cooling process.

Hydration and Sunburn Recovery

Hydration is vital for sunburn recovery. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so your risk for dehydration is higher. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to support your body’s healing. Also, staying hydrated helps maintain your performance level, even when your skin begs for a break.

  • Pre-Workout: 2-3 cups of water
  • During: Half a cup every 15-20 minutes
  • Post-Workout: 2 cups for every pound lost

Sunburn Inflammation and Exercise Precautions

Sunburn brings inflammation, but this doesn’t mean you have to skip your workouts altogether. It’s all about taking the right precautions! Applying sun-safe lotions like aloe vera to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Consider taking a pain reliever such as ibuprofen if you’re feeling uncomfortable.

Adjust your workout intensity and if you’re experiencing fever, severe pain, or itching, it might be a sign to rest and recover. Sun protection is crucial, so wear broad-spectrum sunscreen and lightweight, breathable clothing that covers the affected areas to prevent further UV exposure and skin damage.

Sun Protection and Preventive Measures

A person with a sunburn applies sunscreen and wears a wide-brimmed hat while exercising outdoors

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Outdoor Workouts

Sunscreen is your first line of defense against harmful UV rays. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Ensure it’s at least SPF 30 and water-resistant to endure sweat during those outdoor activities. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating a lot.

  • Check for Broad-Spectrum on the label: This ensures you’re covered for both harmful rays.
  • SPF 30 or higher: Recommended by dermatologists for adequate protection.
  • Water-Resistant Formula: Critical for workouts to ensure the sunscreen stays effective when you’re sweating.

The Role of Clothing in Sun Protection

Your clothing acts as a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. Seek out apparel with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, which indicates how well the fabric shields your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests a UPF of 50+, which allows only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to reach the skin.

  • Lightweight and Breathable: Materials like cotton are ideal for staying cool while offering protection.
  • Dark or Bright Colors: They absorb more UV radiation.
  • Loose Fitting: Enhances comfort and better protects the skin.
  • Accessorize with a Hat: A wide-brimmed hat can provide shade and protect the face, head, neck, and ears.

Seeking Shade and Planning Workout Times

Modify your workout schedule to avoid sun exposure during peak hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be outdoors, find shaded areas or create your own with umbrellas or canopies. Remember, UV rays can reflect off surfaces like water, sand, and concrete, so shade is no excuse to forego sunscreen.

  • Morning or Late Afternoon Workouts: The safest times to be outdoors.
  • Use Shade Strategically: Take breaks under trees or shelters whenever possible.
  • Stay Alert to UV Index: Monitor local weather reports for sun-safety planning.

Treating Sunburn While Staying Active

A person applies aloe vera to soothe sunburn while exercising outdoors

Immediate Actions for Sunburn Care

Right after noticing a sunburn, take these steps immediately to start the healing process:

  • Cool down your skin: Apply a damp cloth to the affected areas.
  • Apply sunburn relief products: Use aloe vera gel, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone cream to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your body recover.

When to Exercise After Sunburn

Consider a lighter workout routine with the following precautions:

  • Wait until the initial pain subsides: Exercising may increase your discomfort, so it’s best to resume activities when you can do so with minimal pain.
  • Cover sunburned areas: Use loose clothing to protect sensitive skin.
  • Opt for indoor activities: An air-conditioned environment will be gentler on your skin than outdoor heat.

Identifying Severe Sunburn Symptoms

Some symptoms require medical attention. Seek care if you experience:

  • Large blisters or increasing pain: Blisters larger than half an inch and worsening pain may signal the need for medical care.
  • Systemic symptoms: Fever, chills, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea can indicate a severe reaction.
  • Signs of infection: Swelling, red streaks, pus, or severe pain around the blisters are urgent matters.


What should you avoid when you have sunburn?

Avoid further sun exposure, tight clothing, hot showers, and harsh skincare products when you have sunburn to prevent irritation and aid healing.

Can you still go out with sunburn?

You can go out with sunburn, but cover up and use sunscreen to protect the skin and prevent worsening the burn.

Can sweat get trapped under sunburn?

Sweat can get trapped under peeling skin from sunburn, potentially causing irritation or heat rash, so keep the area cool and dry.

Is it OK to be in the sun with a sunburn?

It’s not okay to be in the sun with a sunburn; additional UV exposure can intensify the burn and damage the skin further.

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