Woman suffering from sunburn

How to treat sunburn peeling

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Along with sunshine comes lifted spirits and a general sense of relaxation, however excess sun exposure can lead to sun damaged skin – that is, if you’re not taking the necessary precautions against it. 

Ever wondered why your sunburned skin started to peel? This article explores the causes, symptoms, and what to do about the peeling skin from sunburn.

Why does skin peel after sunburn?

Woman suffering from sunburn

Sunburn can lead to parts of the body, face or scalp feeling painful, warm to the touch, looking red or developing blisters.

You may also notice that your skin is peeling or flaking after being exposed to the sun for too long. This is because your body tries to remove the damaged cells. Here are some causes of sunburn peeling:

  • Direct damage to the outermost layers of our skin from Ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Artificial sources of UV light such as tanning beds or sunlamps

Read more about what causes sunburn, the degrees of sunburn severity and how to treat it here.

How to stop sunburn peeling

As the sunburned skin peels off, new skin cells free from direct sun-damage regenerate. Here are some ways to get relief while your skin heal from a sunburn:

How long does sunburn peeling last?

There is no hard and fast rule to the timeline of the peeling, but it usually goes away once the burn has healed. This can be anywhere from two days to a week, depending on the severity.

Should you peel sunburn?

Dealing with peeling skin from a sunburn can leave your skin feeling itchy or tender, and you might be tempted to scratch at the skin or peel off the sunburn.

Do not peel off sunburned skin because this can slow down the healing time of the burn and lead to infection.

Do not exfoliate sunburned skin as this will aggravate the peeling and can lead to scarring. Also, you should avoid hot showers or steam, as this can worsen the sunburn and increase pain.

Why sun protection is necessary as your sunburn peels

Shielding your skin from the sun as it peels can reduce the risk of additional sunburn peeling or formation of blisters. In order to minimise the impact of UV radiation, dermatologists advise everyone to apply Sun Protection Factor (SPF) daily, re-applying it every 2 hours where possible.

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