The skin peel after sunburn can be really troubling for many people, especially when it’s a nasty or painful one. The itchiness, the pain, and the redness that come with sunburns are rather uncomfortable and painful.
The most common sign of damage from sun exposure is a burn. Sunburns are typically characterized by red skin that may be accompanied by swelling and pain. When you are first burned, your skin may have a dry or moist appearance, with dry skin being more common as the body begins to try to fight off infection. The skin may also peel if blistered areas break open, but this does not happen for everyone. Sunburns can be mildly uncomfortable for a few days, or very painful for about a week before fading away.
However, if you have an underlying condition such as lupus or eczema, you may have sensitive skin that takes longer to heal from a simple sunburn due to your discomfort threshold being lower than normal. If this is the case, or if a blister or area of missing skin lasts longer than three weeks after receiving a burn, then you should see your doctor to ensure that everything is healing properly.
How To Treat Bad Skin Peel After Sunburn
Sunburns can cause redness, swelling, pain, and in more severe cases, peeling. Peeling skin is a sign that your body is healing itself, but it can be irritating, itchy, and unsightly while it’s happening.
If your skin starts flaking after a particularly bad sunburn, the one thing you absolutely should not do is pick, peel, or scratch the peeling skin.
“Do not pick peeling skin because it can make you more prone to infection,” says Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a dermatology professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. This is because pulling or scratching off peeling skin can expose unhealed skin underneath, which will not have the proper barrier to fend off potentially harmful bacteria.
So while your skin is peeling, it’s best to allow your body to repair itself. Your skin will usually stop peeling on its own once the sunburn has healed, which takes about a week for mild to moderate burns.
Procedures in Treating Bad Skin Peel After Sunburn
Use a cold compress or take a cool shower
Applying a cold compress or taking a cool shower won’t necessarily stop the peeling. However, if your sunburn feels especially warm, swollen, and uncomfortable the cool temperatures may provide temporary relief.
It’s also important to avoid using loofahs and scrub brushes when showering, as these can pull on or irritate peeling skin, Lipner says.
You can make cold compress at home by adding ice cubes to a sturdy plastic bag. Never apply ice directly to sunburned skin because the severe cold could damage the skin farther and potentially worsen peeling and delay the healing process.
Apply aloe vera or a moisturizer
Using the right moisturizer may help speed up the healing process and reduce peeling.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, recommends using a product containing aloe vera gel, as aloe can help hydrate your skin and has anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce swelling and promote healing.
“It is rich in water and skin-soothing sugars that form a protective seal over the surface of the skin,” Zeichner says.
When choosing a moisturizer, make sure to avoid petroleum or oil-based creams, as these may trap the heat coming off of your skin and make your sunburn even more irritated.