What Happens If You Peel Your Skin After A Sunburn?

Ouch. We’ve all had sunburn at some point, haven’t we? We all know how painful it can be! We probably are all aware of how tempting it is to peel off that dead skin too, right?

But, it’s not actually the best thing you can do for your skin, despite how irritating it can be. Let’s look into what happens if you peel your skin after a sunburn.

What Happens If You Peel Your Skin After A Sunburn?

What Happens If You Peel Your Skin After A Sunburn

Peeling off your skin, no matter how tempting it may be, is seriously not advised when you have a sunburn!

The peeling layer is dead skin, while the underneath part is the skin that is trying to regenerate. Removing the dead layer will not help the growing layer one little bit.

Although peeling skin is unsightly, it’s best to leave it well alone. Peeling off the skin can cause more damage to the layer underneath, and will cause the sunburn to go on for even longer.

Exfoliating your skin when it starts to peel is the same thing as picking it off, and should be avoided at all costs.

The most important thing you should be doing is feeding your skin with all the moisture you can get your hands on, to encourage healing and hydration.

However tempting it is, leave that peeling layer well alone, then your burn will heal faster and you are less likely to end up with more pain or even a scar.

How Long Does It Take For Your Skin To Heal After A Sunburn?

The healing time of a sunburn will depend on the severity of the burn itself:

A mild sunburn

A mild sunburn will usually get better within a week, with the pain and redness starting to subside after a few days.

Mild sunburn brings redness of the skin and some pain, and the skin may peel a bit towards to end of the healing time.

A moderate sunburn

A moderate sunburn is more painful, is red, and can be swollen and hot. This type of burn will take at least a week to heal completely.

Moderate sunburn is a more severe burn, which can take longer to heal and be more uncomfortable. Skin peeling will be more noticeable and go on for longer.

A severe sunburn

A severe sunburn is very uncomfortable, and may even require a visit to the doctor or even a hospital.

Severe sunburn generally takes around a fortnight to heal completely, and causes very painful blistering. Skin will take a lot longer to recover from this type of burn.

Although the initial effects of a sunburn will wear off within a month, the long term effects can take much longer to become apparent.

Skin that is repeatedly exposed to and damaged by the sun is far more susceptible to skin cancer, plus it can look old before its time!

The best thing you can do is to always wear the right sunscreen, avoid the sun in the hottest part of the day, and keep your skin shaded and protected at all times.

Does Sunburn Get Worse The Next Day?

Does Sunburn Get Worse The Next Day

Although the initial pain and redness is far from fun, we’ve got bad news for you – the next 24-36 hours can actually be worse!

This is because the burn is settling deeper into the skin, and the effects will become far more noticeable.

The skin has been damaged and the top layers have literally been burned away. The pain and redness is the body’s way of trying to protect itself from deeper damage.

The effects of a sunburn can linger for around 5-7 days, or even longer if it is a particularly bad burn.

Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do at this point, you’ll just have to wait it out. The good news is that it WILL get better!

You can try to improve the situation by keeping hydrated, moisturising your skin and making sure you stay cool and out of the sun.

These things will help soothe a burn that is already established – but it goes without saying that the best thing you can do is avoid getting burnt in the first place!

How Do You Stop A Sunburn From Progressing?

Once the skin is already burnt by the sun, there is really nothing you can do to stop it – it’s all about damage control, at this point.

You can help the skin as best you can by following the steps below:

  • The most important thing you can do at this point is moisturise. This will help your skin from becoming too dry, and should reduce the amount of peeling.
  • You can also take a painkiller, like Ibuprofen, which can not only help with the pain of a burn but can also help reduce some of the redness which is caused by inflammation.
  • Drink a lot of water, to help with any dehydration that can be caused by sitting in the sun for too long. This can also help to hydrate your skin.
  • Reduce the sunshine! If your skin is already burnt, try to avoid getting out into any more sun, that might add to the burn.
  • Taking a cool bath might help with the pain and discomfort of a sunburn; or you can apply cool compresses to the area.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes, to avoid rubbing the area and causing more pain or problems with the burn.

Once you have had a sunburn, chances are you will never want to get another one! This means that (hopefully) you will do all the things that protect your skin in future.

Final Words

Obviously, the best thing you can do is avoid getting sunburn in the first place – using the right sunscreen helps prevent ageing, as well as more serious problems like skin cancer.

If your skin has burnt, at least now you know what you can do to soothe the pain and speed up the healing. Also, whatever you do, never peel off that skin!

    1. rhys July 20, 2022
    2. Ellie April 16, 2023

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