Can Sunburn Cause Swelling in Ankles: Treating Swollen Feet After Sunburn

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Summertime means lots of fun outdoors including visits to the pool, beach, or lake. Unfortunately, sunburns often put a damper on these fun activities. In addition to the hot, blustery, or peeling skin associated with a sunburn, you may have noticed that your ankles also started swelling. But, can sunburn cause swelling in ankles, or is this just a separate issue? Read on, and we’ll share more about the connection between sunburn and swelling in your ankles, legs, or feet.

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Can Sunburn Cause Swelling in Ankles?

The short answer is that yes, sunburn can cause swelling in the ankles.

The feet and ankles are one of the most common areas that people forget to use sunscreen on, making it more likely for them to be burned by the sun.  In addition to making the skin red or hot-to-the-touch, sunburn can also cause inflammation, which is why you may notice that your ankles are swollen after getting sunburned.

Another related question is, “can sun poisoning cause swelling ankles?”

Since sun poisoning is a more severe sunburn, yes, it may also cause your ankles to swell.  Since you can get a sunburn in as little as 15 minutes, it is important to always apply sunscreen to your entire body, even your feet and ankles, if you’ll be spending time out in the sun.  This can help decrease your chances of getting a sunburn, sun poisoning, or swollen ankles.

Swollen Feet After Sunburn

Can sunburn cause swelling in feet?  Yes, just as a sunburn may cause the ankles to swell, you may also notice feet swollen after sunburn.

The reasoning behind this is the same as why sunburn may cause your ankles to swell, which is that sunburn can cause inflammation of the skin in the areas that get burned.  So, if your feet were exposed to the sun without proper protection, and were burned, then feet swelling after sunburn is entirely possible.

Swollen Legs from Sunburn

Ever looked at your legs after spending the day outside and wondered, “why are my legs swollen after sunburn?”  Sunburn is actually a first degree burn that can lead to pain and inflammation on the parts of the body where the burn occurred.  This can lead to swelling in these areas.

Additionally, if you were on your feet for a long time, it can also increase the chances of swelling.

How Long Does Sunburn Swelling Last?

The length of time swelling from a sunburn will last can vary quite a bit.  The severity of the burn as well as how the sunburn and swelling are treated will all impact how long your feet, legs, or ankles are likely to stay swollen.

Does Sunburn Cause Water Retention?

Yes, sunburn can cause our bodies to retain water.

The inflammatory response the body goes through to address the burn causes it to retain fluids to facilitate the healing process.  If you get a sunburn, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated and help keep it from retaining too much water.  You should also try to stay away from sodium or more processed foods as they can also make your body retain water.

How to Reduce Swelling from Sunburn

If you are experiencing swelling from sunburn, there are a few things you can try to reduce the swelling and the pain it is causing you.  We’ll lay out some step by step ideas for treating swollen ankles, feet, or legs below, but you may also consider applying a lotion or gel designed to cool the skin and soothe sunburn to the swollen areas.

Some great options to consider include:

Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Lotion | Vegan and Hypoallergenic After Sun Care with Cocoa Butter to Soothe and Hydrate Sunburn Pain Relief | 3 oz

How to Treat Swollen Ankles After Sunburn

To treat sunburn swelling ankles, try some of the following:

  • Create a cool milk compress to apply to the swollen areas by placing a washcloth in cold milk and gently pressing it against your ankles.
  • Allow it to sit on your ankles for 10-15 minutes at a time, and if necessary dip the cloth in the milk again to re-wet it.
  • You can also try making a baking soda paste using baking soda and water.  Carefully spread it over the swollen areas and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  This can help with reducing inflammation and pain.
  • Whenever possible, sit with your feet elevated.  Keeping your feet above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling in your ankles.

How to Reduce Swelling in Feet from Sunburn

If you want to reduce feet swelling after sunburn, try the suggestions below:

  • Fill a tub with cool water and soak your feet in the water for approximately 10 minutes.
  • After soaking your feet, gently dry them and apply lotion.
  • You can add baking soda to the foot bath to help reduce inflammation to apple cider vinegar to help you skin heal more quickly, but avoid the temptation to add ice since water that is too cold may damage your skin.
  • While your feet are still swollen, try to avoid wearing shoes when possible, since it can make it take longer for the swelling to go down.
  • Stay hydrated to make sure your body gets sufficient water to heal.

Swollen Legs Sunburn Treatment

Sunburn and swelling legs can be a real pain (literally)!

Use these tips to help:

  • Keep the skin on your legs cool by gently patting it with a cool, wet washcloth multiple times each day
  • Apply aloe vera gel or calamine lotion to the area to soothe the skin and help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Stay out of the sun while you give your sunburned and swollen legs time to heal.
  • Elevate your feet and legs when possible to help the swelling go down.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.  Your pee should appear pale yellow, not darker yellow, if you are sufficiently hydrated.

Sun Poisoning or Edema

If you’re wondering whether you have sun poisoning or edema, it is possible to have both.  Sun poisoning is caused by a severe sunburn.  It can lead to very hot, red skin, blisters, pain, headaches, nausea, fevers, swelling, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Edema refers to swelling on the body that is caused by fluid retention.  Since sun poisoning or sunburns can cause the body to retain fluids, they can also lead to edema or swelling.  However, since there are other, potentially more serious causes of edema, it is always a good idea to reach out to your doctor if you are concerned or the swelling does not go down after some time.

Coola, Organic Radical Recovery After Sun Body Lotion Includes Aloe Vera Agave and Lavender Oil for Sunburn Relief, Unscented, 6.12 Fl Oz

Sunburn and Swelling

Getting a sunburn is bad enough, but experiencing sunburn and swelling legs, ankles, or feet is even worse.  Hopefully, you’ve found some answers to your questions about what causes swelling after sunburn and how you can treat it and prevent it from happening again!

Check out these related posts on our blog:


Can Sunburn Cause Swelling in Ankles?

The short answer is that yes, sunburn can cause swelling in the ankles

How long does sunburn swelling last?

The severity of the burn as well as how the sunburn and swelling are treated will all impact how long your feet, legs, or ankles are likely to stay swollen.

Does sunburn cause water retention?

Yes, sunburn can cause our bodies to retain water.

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?


  1. Hope you’re well, too, Pablo!

    Many people don’t apply sunscreen on the daily, and they think exposing themselves to the sun without protection can get them tanner, even in harsher conditions like the beach. SPF is so important!

    Thanks as always for stopping by!

  2. Hey Ellis, hope you’re doing good!

    Interesting article and facts, luckily and I am very cautious when it comes to expose my body to the sun but this is important since sometimes we can be out in the street or at the beach without the necessary protection or run out of SPF, even with SPF I think we should be cautious about the sun.

    Thanks for the nice tips, those are easy to follow, specially applying aloe vera or aloe vera related products or raise legs for a little bit 😉 The tip about baking soda could also be useful (and cheap!)


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