Redness, pain and peeling skin are unmistakable signs that you have spent too much time in the sun. Peeling after a sunburn is the body’s attempt to rid itself of sun-damaged cells and protect you from premature aging and skin cancer, according to the University of Heidelberg. Unfortunately, peeling skin is also itchy and unsightly. While peeling cannot always be avoided, you can reduce the likelihood that your skin will peel by taking proper care of it immediately after sun exposure.
Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs such as Ibuprofen reduce sunburn pain and inflammation and decrease the risk of peeling. The Mayo Clinic states that anti-inflammatory drugs are most effective when taken very soon after sun exposure.
Take a cold bath or shower to cool your skin down. Do not wash your sunburned skin with harsh soaps and avoid rubbing your skin dry after bathing, as these may increase the likelihood of peeling.
Apply moisturizer to sunburned areas. Do this immediately after stepping out of the shower. Moisturizers that are specifically designed for use on sunburned skin are available in most drugstores. Most contain aloe vera to soothe the skin, reduce inflammation and help prevent peeling.
Drink extra water to encourage skin healing and prevent peeling. The Mayo Clinic states that sun exposure can cause increased fluid loss and dehydration, which makes drinking a lot of water especially important in the few first days after getting burned.
Do not scratch your skin. Burned skin is often itchy, but scratching it will only increase tissue damage and increase the risk of peeling. If you get the urge to scratch, apply some cool aloe directly to the itchy areas, or apply an ice cube wrapped in cloth to your skin. Both should offer temporary relief.
Slather sunscreen on your skin. Using sunscreen should already be part of your normal routine, but it is especially important when you have a sunburn. Spending time outdoors without protecting your already damaged skin will increase the risk of peeling and worsen your burn.