Swollen Feet from Sunburn? Here's What to Do!

Woman lounging in bathing suit on pool float on pink background

Five Simple Steps For Soothing Sunburned Feet

Who doesn’t love spending a sunny day lounging by the pool or sitting by the water?

While the warm rays may feel great on your skin, too much sun exposure can leave you with an uncomfortable burn if you’re not careful.

That’s why it’s important to apply sunscreen from head to toe. But we know how easy it can be to overlook using sunblock on your feet.

Swollen feet from sunburn can hurt! Luckily, there are many ways to treat sunburn and swollen feet right from home.

Sunburns and Your Skin

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a sunburn is “an inflammatory reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to the skin’s outermost layers.” Too much sun exposure can make your skin cells inflamed, leading to dry, red skin that’s warm and painful to touch. And it’s not only uncomfortable, but can also increase your risk of skin cancer.

You can get sunburn anywhere, but getting a sunburn on the top of your feet is often common during the summertime. It’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen to your feet as you’re going through the day. You’re also more likely to be wearing open-toed shoes like sandals or flip flops that expose the tops of your feet to UV rays.

Remember, it doesn’t need to be sunny to get a sunburn. A high UV index can cause a burn even on an overcast day. Up to 80% of UV rays can come through clouds and leave you burned.

Why Do Sunburned Feet Get Swollen?

Any severe sunburn can cause your skin to swell and feel hot, but your foot and ankle are especially at risk of swelling. 

Since your feet and ankles are prone to water retention already, a sunburn can cause this swelling known as edema. Additionally, the damaged cells leak fluid that can build up in your surrounding tissue, leading to swelling.

Swollen feet from sunburn are often a more severe symptom. While a mild sunburn can still cause discomfort and peeling skin, but no swelling.

How Long Does Swollen Feet From Sunburn Last?

Sunburn swelling can be extremely uncomfortable. According to most experts, severe swelling can last for two days or more, but usually resides after three to five days and can be completely healed in a week.

You should notice your sunburned feet getting better every day. If not, you should contact your doctor for advice.

How to Soothe Sunburned Feet

Woman at the beach with sunscreen on her feet protecting relaxing
You don’t have to be stuck with sunburned feet.

Here are a few ways to treat a sunburn and swollen feet with ingredients you already have at home.

1. Cool Your Feet in a Foot Bath

Soak your feet in cool water for 15-20 minutes. To reduce swelling in the hours after a sunburn on your feet, soak them in cool water. This can feel heavenly on your feet. Then, consider adding more soothing ingredients like apple cider vinegar and baking soda that reduce inflammation and help the healing process.

You can also use a cold compress or wrap some ice in a towel and place it on your feet. This will help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

2. Better Yet Try An Oatmeal Soak

oatmeal mix to heal skin and hydrate sunburn

As your skin heals, your dead skin can become itchy and begin peeling.

An oatmeal soak can help to soothe sunburned, swollen feet. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Fill a bathtub or large basin with cool water.
  2. Add 1-2 cups of plain, uncooked oats to the water. Stir the oats around to distribute them evenly. Another option, is to place the oats into a food processor or blender so that you have a fine powder to add to the cool water.
  3. Soak your feet in the oatmeal water for 15-20 minutes. If the water gets warm, add some more cool water to keep the temperature comfortable.
  4. After soaking, gently pat your feet dry with a soft towel. Avoid rubbing the skin, as this can irritate your sunburn.
  5. Apply aloe vera or a moisturizer to your feet to help soothe the sunburn and hydrate the skin.

Repeat this process daily as needed until your sunburned, swollen feet feel better.

An oatmeal bath is a great home remedy that’s easy to make and can help soothe your skin.

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate 

Did we mention hydration?

Since a sunburn pulls moisture away from your skin, one of the best ways to promote healing is to stay hydrated and moisturize your skin. We love lemon slices and mint for an added boost to water. 

lemon water hydration
We also can’t forget to mention the importance of taking care of your feet when they’re swollen and burned.

  • Use a moisturizer with aloe vera as the main ingredient to treat the tops of your feet
  • Avoid wearing shoes or socks that can cause friction against your sunburn 
  • You might taking anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the pain and swelling especially in the first few days

avoid sunburned feet use sunscreen to protect from future damage

4. Avoid Further Sun Exposure 

You're most likely to get a sunburn the first day of a vacation (based on our experience), so make sure you protect your feet from any additional exposure. Keep your feet covered and stay out of the sun until your sunburn has healed. If you must go outside, wear shoes that cover your feet and use sunscreen. We love the Supergoop! everyday travel size. Remember to reapply that sunscreen!

5. Keep Your Feet Moisturized

Apply a moisturizing lotion or aloe vera gel to your feet to keep them hydrated and soothe the sunburn. Avoid using oil-based products, as they can trap heat and make the burn worse.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to sunburn. Always wear sunscreen with a high SPF, especially on your feet, and avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours. 

woman using best foot forward wrapped on her feet restoring and healing

When your toes are completely healed, make sure to give them some extra TLC with a moisturizing foot mask!

Shop our collection of soothing hand and foot masks.