Sunburn Peeling – How to Stop or Keep Sunburn from Peeling

Sunburn Peeling – How to Stop or Keep Sunburn from Peeling

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After a long period in the sun, you may find yourself with terrible sunburn and a few days later, sunburn peeling becomes a reality. Peeling of the sunburned skin can make you uncomfortable, more so if it occurs on the face. This article will give you a thorough insight into peeling of sunburned skin including treatment and prevention.

Do All Sunburns Peel

You are perhaps wondering if all sunburned skins peel. Well, that depends on the extent of damage. Skin that has been sunburned before may in particular not peel as fast because of the underlying damage.

An important point to reiterate at this point however is that whether a sunburned skin peels or not, the UV rays will still cause damage to skin cells and increase your risk for skin cancer and other ageing-related problems e.g. wrinkling and dark spots.

Should I Peel My Sunburn

Should I peel my sunburn? That is a common question among our readers. The answer to that question is simply, NO!

Having a flaky, peeling skin is not anyone’s ideal mark of beauty and is irritating, but peeling the skin out will not fasten the healing process. Indeed it can result in infection, scarring or further irritation of the skin. The same case goes for scratching the sunburned skin.

If you have a segment of dead skin that still remains and want to get rid of it, avoid tugging or scratching it off and instead cut it off gently using a small, clean pair of scissors. Be cautious not to cut the healing skin. Once done, apply a dab of antibiotic cream such as Bacitracin or Polysporin on the affected area.

What causes Peeling after Sunburn

Peeling after sunburn is the body’s mechanism of getting rid of damaged cells. The skin is constantly shedding old skin cells and replacing them with new ones but when it gets damaged on exposure to excessive ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, a huge number of damaged skin cells are shed at once and as a result, visible white portions of skin peel and slough off.

Sunburn Peeling Face

The other day, one of our esteemed readers asked us in an email, “I have sunburn peeling on face. What can I do to stop it?”

Well, peeling sunburned skin often responds well to keeping the skin moisturized and free of irritants. Getting a balanced, healthy diet is also beneficial. We have covered this in another section of this article.

Remember however that regardless of the time it takes the peeling to stop, the damage caused to the skin is typically permanent.

Bad Sunburn Peeling

“I have a bad sunburned skin. What should I do?” Does this question sound familiar to you? Well, there is no cause for concern as most cases of sunburn peeling will clear in just a few days.

It is however prudent to take gentle care of the skin as it heals from the sunburn. At the very least you will want to keep it cool and moisturized and give it extra help by applying aloe vera gel (or juice).

In case the skin starts itching, getting an oatmeal bath will in most cases relieve it. Applying an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin is also not a great idea and in case the pain is unbearable, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

How to Keep a Sunburn from Peeling – How to Prevent Peeling after Sunburn or Prevent Sunburn Peeling

The best way to prevent sunburn peeling is to avoid sunburn in the first place by slathering on a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15. The closer the sunscreen is to SPF 30, the better.

If however you forgot to protect the skin and the worst has already happened, there are numerous options that you can take to prevent peeling after sunburn. Here is how to keep sunburn from peeling:

Get out of the sun: Your first course of action should be to take care of the very underlying cause by staying away from the sun as further exposure can worsen the sunburn.

Keep cool: Your second course of action should be to cool off the sunburned area of the skin by applying cool damp washcloths for 15 minutes every now and then. Some people prefer taking cool or lukewarm baths (or showers). Cool baths work especially great for larger area of sunburned skin. Keeping the body cool is especially effective if used immediately.

Regardless of what anyone told you, you should stay away from salt baths as they can irritate the skin further. You should also never use hot water to shower as the heat in it can further irritate the skin.

If you choose to use the cool bath (or shower) method, pat your skin dry with a towel once through instead of rubbing the towel across.

Moisturize frequently: Moisturizing the skin is so vital that a talk on how to keep a sunburn from peeling is hardly complete without a mention of it, in my own opinion.

After cooling your skin, apply a mild lotion to keep the skin moisturized. Lotions containing aloe vera as one of the main ingredients are especially helpful. Moisturize several times a day.

Caution: Avoid petroleum based products (such as Vaseline), fatty creams and butter as they often clog the pores and prevent the skin from cooling which may then worsen the case.

Apply aloe vera: The anti-inflammatory properties of the natural ingredients found in aloe vera helps to soothe and repair the sunburned skin. You can either apply fresh aloe vera juice obtained by cutting an aloe vera leaf into two or get an over-the-counter aloe vera gel.

Extra tips to keep sunburn from peeling:

  • Drink plenty of water, at least 8 glasses per day
  • Avoid scratching the sunburn. If the skin itches, moisturizing it and taking an oatmeal bath can offer relief.
  •  Observe proper nutrition by having a diet that is rich in vitamins A, C and E, fruits and lean meats

How to Stop Peeling from Sunburn

If you spent so long enjoying the warmth of the sun on your skin without protection with a sunscreen over the weekend or during your tropical holiday and are now wondering how to stop peeling from sunburn, then you will delight to know that the peeling will stop by itself in just a few day.

Nonetheless there is a number of simple but effective ways that you can turn to in order to get your smooth, beautiful skin back faster. Here is how to stop peeling from sunburn.

  1. Get cool soaks/baths: Dampen a clean, small washcloth with cold water and then wring out the excess water to so that it doesn’t drip. Now spread the washcloth out and cover the peeling skin with it to cool it off for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, take a cool water bath especially if a large portion of the skin is affected.
  2. Moisturize the peeling skin: Moisturizing the peeling sunburned skin helps to keep it cool and promote healing. After a cool bath or soak, pat your skin dry with a towel and then apply a thin layer of moisturizing lotion. If you can, get a lotion specifically designed for use on sunburned skin or one that contains aloe vera as an ingredient.
  3. Apply aloe vera: Applying aloe vera on the sunburned skin several times daily helps to soothe skin and promote faster healing. A fresh aloe vera juice obtained from a leaf of aloe vera plant works great, but an OTC aloe vera gel is quite as effective.
  4. Cut any hanging skin: pulling or scratching hanging peeled skin is generally not recommended as it can irritate the skin further and/or cause infection. An ideal way to remove hanging pieces of skin is to cut them with small, clean scissors.
  5. Apply antibiotic cream: You may also want to apply an antibiotic cream such as Bacitracin or Polysporin on the edges of peeling skin to avoid infection. It is especially recommended that you dab some antibiotic cream after using a pair of scissors to cut hanging skin off.
  6. Get an oatmeal bath: Scratching sunburned skin is greatly advised against. If the peeling skin itches, taking a cool bath to which colloidal oatmeal has been added may help. You can buy fine oatmeal in most local drugstores.
  7. Drink lots of water: Water is essential for healthy skin and that glass of water goes along way in promoting the healing process after sunburn. 8 to 10 glasses of water is a good range to work with as you recover from that peeling sunburned skin.

How to Treat Peeling Sunburn and How to Heal Peeling Sunburn- In Conclusion

As for those who asked how to treat peeling sunburn, your choices are simple as keeping the skin cooled down (cool baths) and moisturized (with a good water based lotion) while soothing it with an aloe vera gel and most importantly, keeping your hands off of it. That is, you should never scratch sunburned skin.

If the desire to scratch the skin is so irresistible, just make sure that the skin is adequately moisturized and follow it up with an oatmeal bath.


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