Sunburn with Hand

Is Massage Okay with Sunburn?

admin Skin Care

By Kim Mufalli
Licensed Massage Therapist, Blue Dragon Bodywork

Fun in the Sun! That’s what most people come to Hawaii Island to experience.

Swimming, surfing, hiking, biking, whale watching, fishing, enjoying sunrises and sunsets all have one thing in common: We enjoy them in the sun!

As a resident of Hawaii for 35 years, I’ve had my share of sunburns. Sometimes I wasn’t prepared. Other times I just stayed out too long.

I empathize with those who have blistered shoulders and bright red legs or back after their first day on vacation. Too much of a good thing is, well, not a good thing!

The best way to avoid sunburn is by Limiting Exposure:
  Wear a hat and sunglasses.
•  Wear long sleeve shirts and leggings: It’s common to see people enjoying watersports in SPF-wear.
•  Apply sunblock to exposed areas: Those containing oxybenzone or octinoxate will be banned in Hawaii as of Jan.1, 2021. Many local companies are now making reef-safe sunscreen.
•  Limit amount of time in sun and look for shade.

Here’s a short description of symptoms of first and second degree sunburn: 
* First Degree Burn: Redness, Pain
* Second Degree Burn: Redness, Pain, Swelling, Blistering, White or Discolored in Irregular Pattern, Nausea, Headache

If you unfortunately do get a sunburn, there are a few ways you can be more comfortable:
* Soak or shower in cool water
* Apply a soothing aloe based cream or gel
* Hydrate with healthy drinks
* Get extra rest
* Stay out of the sun 

What if you’ve scheduled a massage for the next day you’re sunburned? Should you reschedule? Talk to your therapist? Wait ’til the therapist notices? You really need that massage!

If you have sunburn, let your therapist know. Your therapist will, considering your level of comfort and professional discretion, do their best to practice safe massage.

A mild or first degree sunburn can be massaged lightly but deep pressure is not recommended on this damaged skin. The therapist can spend more time on areas of the body that are not sunburned to complete a therapeutic and relaxing massage.

If you have a second degree sunburn, this tissue should not be massaged. Your therapist can massage areas of the body that are not sunburned to complete a therapeutic and relaxing massage.

If you’re so sunburned you feel ill (nausea, headache or fever), it’s best to reschedule. Your therapist will understand. If you have questions or concerns regarding a sunburn, call your therapist. They’ll help put your mind at ease and discuss possible contraindications.

With a little planning and preparation, everyone can prevent a painful sunburn. Cover up, find shade, limit exposure and have fun in the sun!

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Kim Mufalli is an athlete and licensed massage therapist with Blue Dragon Bodywork, Kawaihae. She specializes in recovery from injury, Lomi Lomi and deep tissue massage. You can reach Kim at