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What Can I Put on Sunburn So it Won't Peel?

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
What Can I Put on Sunburn So it Won't Peel?
Stacked slices of aloe and pieces of aloe in a wooden dish. Photo Credit kerdkanno/iStock/Getty Images

Spending too much time in the sun can lead to the development of an uncomfortable skin condition known as a sunburn. A sunburn can rob the skin of moisture and damage the outer layers of skin—resulting in peeling. In order to reduce the risk of peeling, take several steps to reincorporate moisture and reduce inflammation.


A sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to too much sun—the melanin pigment underneath the skin can no longer support the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and burning and redness result. The skin can take between 12 and 24 hours to show the full effects of a sunburn, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the skin is damaged, it becomes dry and can peel off. Quick treatment can minimize or prevent peeling.

Immediate Treatment

Immediately after being exposed to the sun, you should apply cold compresses to the skin or take a cool bath, according to the Mayo Clinic. Soaking a washcloth in black tea also may help to reduce inflammation, according to Allure.com. This can help to take away some of the “heat” that accompanies a sunburn. You also should take an anti-inflammatory medication, which can help to reduce redness that can accompany a sunburn and peeling.


While it can be difficult, refrain from picking at the skin—this can further aggravate your risk of sunburn, according to Allure.com. You also should drink lots of water, which can help to introduce moisture into the skin that can be lost when the body becomes sunburned.

Topical Treatments

A number of topical treatments are available to add moisture to the skin to prevent peeling. These include those containing aloe, which is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient that also moisturizes the skin. Other moisturizing creams, such as those that contain cocoa butter or lanolin, may be effective as well. However, avoid products with alcohol or benzocaine, which can actually dry out the skin. You should apply these moisturizing creams several times daily to keep the skin moisturized and reduce the risk of peeling.


Severe sunburns may warrant more than moisturizers—they may require a physician’s attention, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your sunburn covers a large portion of your body and is developing into blisters, is accompanied by a fever or does not subside within a few days, seek medical attention.

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