Sunburn is a term for overexposure of skin’s condition to the ultraviolet or UV rays sourced from the sunlight which can cause a swollen, red and painful skin. It brings damage to the epidermal cells and melanocytes as well as the temporary loss of Langerhans cells caused by the ultraviolet light to the cells’ proteins and nucleoproteins. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the United States of America, more than one-third of adults and almost 70% of children claimed that they have gotten sunburned within the past year. The amount of UV radiation depends on the angle and latitude of the sun and the greater risk of it is when the sun’s position is directly above you.
The sun radiates three types of ultraviolet light wavelengths; UVC, UVB and UVA. UVC does not reach the earth as it is absorbed by the ozone layer. The other two types which are UVA and UVB, however, pass the atmosphere and even reach your skin epidermis and dermis. These ultraviolet radiations influence the condition of the skin which leads to premature skin ageing, wrinkles, eye damage and skin cancers. Sunburn depends on your skin type, the intensity of the sun, and the duration you exposed to the sun ray. If you exposed your skin too much under the sunlight, the chance of having skin peeling is high as the skin heals themselves through skin peeling.
Once you got sunburned, the skin will start to peel after a few days and it can last for the next days. The peeling will stop when the skin is fully recovering. One of the ways to treat the peeling skin is by drinking an amount of water, which helps the skin to heal faster as it rehydrates the skin. Other than that, you can apply the moisturizer such as the aloe vera gel or plain petroleum jelly to help moisturize the skin. Taking a warm bath also very helpful to loosen the dead skin cells and be gentle when you are removing the dead skin cells because the new skin is more delicate and soft.
Another way to treat the skin peeling is by using the cooling compress. You can put a cool and wet compress on your peeling skin for about 20 or 30 minutes to relieve the inflammation. Do not apply ice straight on your skin surface as that may cause further irritation. It is suggested that you can cover your peeling skin or recovering skin with any clothing or with a spread of sunscreen lotion with the SPF 45 or higher to avoid additional damage to the affected skin. If your sunburned skin totally peeled, it is recommended for you to apply a moisturizer which has a little amount of alpha hydroxy acid. It will help to shed off the dead skin without compromise the new skin cells.
Prevention is better than the cure. Try to avoid direct sun’s rays especially when the sun is on the rise, or if in the situation which needs you to go out, wear the sun-protective clothing which covers all the exposed skin surface. Apply the sunscreen lotion with the sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, 30 minutes before going out. It protects your skin from the UVA and UVB radiations. The use of hats and sunglasses are also favoured in terms of skin and eye protection from being damaged.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 7, 2019 | Last Modified: October 31, 2019
- Smith EB. Sunburn. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1981;