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How to Remove Peeling Skin From a Sunburn

by 
author image Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown has several years experience as an educator and a writer. She won the 2008 Reingold Prize for writing in the history of science. Brown has a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in the history of science and Middle Eastern studies from Columbia University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in astrophysics from Colgate University.
How to Remove Peeling Skin From a Sunburn
Be gentle with sunburned skin. Photo Credit: Naked King/iStock/GettyImages

If you've spent any time out in the sun, there's a good chance you've been cooked by the rays beating down on you. Even a short exposure to the sun, while your skin is unprotected, can lead to a painful and irritated burn. Knowing how to properly care for a sunburn can help minimize the discomfort and speed up the healing process.

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How to Remove Peeling Skin

Taking care of your skin after a sunburn requires patience and time. As tempting as it may be to rip the hanging skin off before you head out to work, it's important to allow the skin to fall off on its own.

Improperly removed sunburned skin can lead to further irritation, scarring and infection. You can properly remove peeling skin from a sunburn if you take it slow and follow certain steps

1. Take a Lukewarm Bath

Sunburned skin that is peeling does not do well in hot water. The warm temperature of the water can irritate the area and cause it to become painful. That's why you need to stick to taking a lukewarm bath, which will soothe and loosen the peeling skin for easy removal. Try to bathe once per day until the skin is removed.

2. Gently Wipe Away the Peeling Skin

Use either a soft washcloth or a disposable cleansing cloth to gently wipe or pat the peeling skin. This will remove any loose pieces without harming the healthy skin underneath.

When cleaning skin that is peeling, avoid using abrasive materials like loofas, puffs or sponges. These will remove peeling skin quickly, but they can also damage healthy skin and cause infection. Do not scratch peeling skin if you want to avoid scarring.

And always avoid rubbing or scrubbing the area.For extremely itchy skin, you can soothe the area with cool water. Pat yourself dry with a soft towel after the bath. Avoid rough fabrics or rubbing the skin.

3. Carefully Remove the Remaining Skin

If there are still hanging pieces of skin after you wipe the area with a washcloth, you can use a small scissor to cut them off. Make sure you pay special attention to where you are cutting You only want to cut away the dead skin. Be careful to not cut or peel away skin that is already healing. You also want to avoid pulling the skin, as this can remove attached areas not yet ready to come off.

4. Treat Your Skin With an Antibiotic Ointment

Once you have carefully removed the hanging skin, it's time to an apply antibiotic ointment to the edges of the peeled skin. Treating the areas where you have removed the skin can help you avoid infection and further irritation.

5. Moisturize Your Skin

Applying a moisturizer might be one of the most important steps you take when it comes to caring for your skin. You need to restore the strength and flexibility of your damaged skin, so consider applying a lotion containing aloe vera to the peeling area.

Since aloe vera gel has both moisturizing and soothing properties it can help reduce the itching and irritation that occurs while your skin is peeling and healing from a sunburn. Stick to using fragrance-free moisturizers and lotions.

Aftercare For Your Skin

You can expect the peeling to continue for several days after the initial burn. When most of your sunburned skin has peeled, you may want to use a moisturizer that contains a small amount of alpha hydroxy acid. This will help to exfoliate dead skin cells without damaging healthy skin.

While your skin is peeling, be extra careful with additional sun exposure. Damaged skin is even more susceptible to sun damage. If you need to be outside, it's a good idea to use a sunscreen with a higher SPF than you normally use.

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