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Sunburn Peeling

You may have heard of the numerous benefits of exposure to sunlight, ranging from being an invaluable source of vitamin D which when stored in the body in the optimum amount helps in the fight against cancer, to helping to fight high blood pressure etc. However, the relationship between man and sunlight is not always a beneficial one. Over-exposure to the sun can cause damage to the skin.

Everyone at one time or the other has experienced some form of sunburn at varying degrees. Sunburn peeling is the body’s way of getting rid of damaged cells after sunburn. Besides the flaky skin that accompanies sunburn peeling, it could come with other symptoms like redness of the skin, discoloration of the skin, itching, extreme dryness and wrinkling of the skin. In addition to the pain and loose skins, discoloration could be very embarrassing. Particularly, sunburn peeling on face can be a serious source of worry.

You will learn everything you need to know about this very worrisome issue such as the causes, how long it takes the skin to heal from sunburn, how to exfoliate a peeling skin and a whole lot more.

Causes of Sunburn peeling

  • Sunburn is caused primarily by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun
  • Tanning lamps
  • Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation

How long does skin peel after sunburn?

The length of time it will take your skin to peel after sunburn depends on the degree of damage to the skin and the healing time.

First Degree Burns

This usually has a little inflammation with irritation on the skin. Only the outer skin layer is affected. Peeling off starts within 1-2 days and in three days it is completely healed. Most sunburns are usually first degree. This mild burn is not serious enough to disturb you from carrying out your daily activities. The treatment applied also plays a role. The healing time of first degree burn is usually a few days.

Second Degree Burn

This is more serious and the healing time is also longer. It is characterized by red bumps or sun poisoning rash and severe inflammation as well as discoloration of the skin. This burn goes beyond the skin surface into the deeper layer of the skin. The second degree burn may result in sore which takes longer to heal and may require over the counter drugs. The peeling therefore takes a longer period than the first degree burn.

Third Degree Burn

This is characterized by inflammation of the skin and damage of the inner layer of the skin. In this kind of burn, peeling does not usually occur because the nerves are also involved. Third degree burn really hurts and may leave permanent scar.

How To Exfoliate Peeling Skin After Sunburn

Typically as part of the body’s natural healing process, after sunburn, the skin begins to peel on its own. However, care must be taken not to hurry into exfoliating as this may lead to consequences you did not bargain for. To return your skin to its previous state without damage, follow the guidelines below.

sunburn peeling on face

Picture : Sunburn peeling on face

Take a shower

One of the steps you should take when your skin begins to peel off is to take a bath with tepid water.Do this up to two or three times daily with lukewarm water. This is to help soften the usually dry skin.

Reduce the itch

Some skins could be especially very itchy at this time and scratching it could do an irreversible damage to your skin. Applying ice on the surface of the itching area with a piece of soft cloth can help reduce the sensation. The cooling effect should bring down the itch and the hurts in a couple of minutes.

Hydrate your skin

You should apply a moisturizing cream or lotion to skin shortly after taking your shower. Different creams are available to help with sunburn but it is important to look out for the one that suits your skin. Applying Aloe Vera gel has been proven to work well. Moisturizing cream with hyaluronic acid component is also very effective.

Drink plenty of water

One trick that works when dealing with peeling skin is to drink plenty of fluid to keep hydrated from the inside. Avoid taking alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Drink plenty of water on daily basis to help keep the inside hydrated. As a rule of thumb, taking up to 10 glasses of water daily helps to achieve this task.

Don’t peel loose skin

sunburn peeling

Shortly after sunburn, the skin begins to rejuvenate and in the process the dead outer skin begins to come off. The temptation to peel off this sunburn skin is very high but care must be taken to avoid peeling it off forcefully as this can cause further damage, especially when there is sunburn peeling on face. This is what you should do; exfoliate only when your skin is no longer sensitive or inflamed. If you are worried about the loose flaky peeling skin, use nail scissors and trim the dead part very carefully. Do not attempt to tear off peel forcefully on loose skin as this could interfere with the skin’s natural healing process and leave scars in your skin.

Treatment for Sunburn peeling

Sunburn treatments are basically provided, not to heal skin or prevent damage to your skin, but to help reduce pain, swelling and irritation. If often advisable to adopt home remedies in very severe cases, you should seek a doctor’s advice. The following could be useful:

  • Analgesics: common over the counter pain and prescription pain relievers should help control the pain and swelling of sunburn, particularly when taken shortly after sun exposure.
  • Medications that control itching: Some medications are available to control itching. They can be applied to help reduce itching and speed up the healing process.

Home Remedies

Adopting natural remedies for the treatment of sunburn peeling has been proved to be very effective especially as some chemical creams can cause further irritation to the skin. Some of the home remedies that are effective include:

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is composed mainly of saturated fat and lauric fatty acid that help to relieve inflammation and promote quick healing to sunburn skin. Apart from these qualities, it also helps to reduce discomfort occasioned by peeling and dryness of skin as well as provide nourishment and moisturizing effect to the skin.

Coconut oil is rich in vitamin D and E and other essential nutrients needed by the skin for healing. Rubbing coconut oil lavishly on the affected areas of skin helps to prevent permanent scars, wrinkles and discoloration on the skin because coconut oil possesses properties that help regenerate the skin

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant has long been recognized as an amazing plant because of its healing properties. Referred often to as ‘’miracle plant’’ or ‘’natural healer’’, Aloe Vera gel has been used over several centuries for treatment of burns and skin irritations. It is widely renowned for its ability to regenerate the skin by stimulating the fibroblast cells which produce collagen and elastin, two natural proteins which help to rebuild and tighten loose skin. It also helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin.

Extract the gel and refrigerate for thirty minutes then apply on the affected areas. Leave on the skin to dry. Do this for as many as 6 times a day for several days until you achieve result.


Oatmeal is very useful for the treatment of sunburn because of its ability to provide soothing relief for the skin. Oatmeal also has healing properties which help to exfoliate and moisturize the skin.

To use, pour two cups of raw uncooked oatmeal into tepid water in the bathtub. Put the affected part in the water, or simply soak up for some minutes, rinse off and air dry. Avoid scrubbing with a towel. Repeat this daily until everything clears up.


Honey has been in use for as long as history itself. Its ability to heal makes it one of the oldest known wound dressings. Honey is very potent for healing sunburns when it is applied on the skin. This can be quite helpful if you have sunburn peeling on face.


Prevention still remains the best option available to anyone when dealing with sunburn. Being armed with the right information goes a long way to help. Some tips for prevention have been provided here to guide you.

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Ultra violet radiation is usually strongest between 10am and 4pm. If you have any reason to be outdoor at this time you have to make it as short as possible otherwise it is advisable to reschedule. Stay indoors at midday and reduce the risk of sunburn to your skin.
  • Cover Your Body Properly: It is almost impossible for someone to stay indoor during the risk hours. So the strategy to avoiding sunburn is to wear suitable clothes. Full sleeve and closely woven clothing to cover you properly should be preferable. Wear proper clothing that covers you and take care of your legs and arms. Clothing or outdoor gear that offers protection against the sun should be worn. Look out for clothes with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) labels; such clothes are made to protect your skin from sunlight. Wearing wide brimmed hats of about 4” that covers your neck, scalp, nose, ears and forehead when outdoors surely does help.
  • Use Sunscreen: Selecting appropriate sunscreen provides protection for the skin. In choosing your sunscreen, ensure that it has a minimum sun protection factor (spf) of 30 or higher, which is a broad spectrum with the ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays.UVA and UVB rays are the two types of ultraviolet rays produced by the sun while UVB rays can burn your skin, UVA rays cause premature aging, wrinkles and dark spots on the skin. Apply sunscreen lavishly on the skin 15-30 minutes before exposure. If you are going to be outdoor for a long period, the sunscreen will wear off. You will need to reapply frequently when outdoor, including shortly after swimming and when you begin to sweat also. Keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun.
  • Don’t use a base tan for protection. Some people wrongly assume that getting a base tan will give them the needed protection against sunburn. It has been proven however, that a tan doesn’t offer any real protection from the sun and tanning on a regular basis, whether in the sun or a tanning bed, can do long-term damage to your skin, so it should be avoided.
  • Dietary Protection: Some foods and food supplements have been found to play important roles in the protection against sunburn. Food supplements that contain polypodium leucotomos provide oral photo-protection and reduce sunburn.
  • Food rich in antioxidant and essential vitamin have been shown to help as internal sunscreen to help limit the damage to skin as a result of exposure to ultraviolet rays. Taking Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplement was shown in one study to reduce the amount of sunburn after a controlled amount of UV exposure. It has also been established in scientific literature in 2007 that beta carotene (Vitamin A) is helpful. It was also established that a long term supplementation had a protective effect against sunburn.
  • Astaxanthin is a very effective antioxidant which has been found to protect against sunburn effect when taken on daily basis. Take vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants.


Sunburn can dent your self esteem and make you withdraw into your shell. Particularly challenging is sunburn on face which can make you look like a real masquerade. But with the tips we have highlighted here, we are sure your nightmares will soon be over. Just apply the tips and you will be surprised at the positive result you get. However, if things don’t get better, see the doctor for proper management.

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