Doctors warn against the dangers of "Hell's Itch"

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Have you ever heard of Hell's Itch? It's a term used to describe a terrible reaction to a sunburn.

Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis talked to a dermatologist about what it is and how you can avoid it.

Kari Smeltzer loves taking her kids to the splash pad in Farragut.
She makes sure she puts sunscreen on both of them.

"I don't want to deal with burns," said Smeltzer.

If you forget to wear sunscreen, you could of course get sunburned. Even when the burn starts to fade, you could be left with an itch you won't want to scratch.

"Hell's Itch is layman's terms for incredible itch one to two days after your sunburn shows up," said Kimberly Grande with the Skin Wellness Center.

Some people describe it as fire ants crawling and biting their sun burnt skin. To treat Hell's Itch, you can put a cool cloth on the affected area and take Benadryl and Ibuprofen, but make sure you don't scratch it.

"The more you scratch, the more it itches," said Dr. Grande. "If you scratch it, it will go on a week or so after you have the sunburn."

That's something Smetlzer hopes she never has to deal with.

"I want them to have healthy skin as they age and get older," she said.

Dr. Grande also advises not to use aloe on the burn, and avoid bathing because that seems to trigger the deep itch.