What to Do When Your Sunburn Starts Peeling

It's easier said than done, but DON'T PICK.

Skin peeling
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Your is finally on its way out — until it becomes a peeling, flakey mess. Yuck. While you might feel the urge to pull at dead skin, stop right there. Any over-zealous methods to speed things up can backfire in the long run.

"Peeling sunburned skin can increase the risk for scarring because the skin does not always peel at the same rate," explains , a New York City-based dermatologist who is board-certified with the (AAD). "It's best to let the dead skin exfoliate on its own."

That subsequent shedding has an important purpose though; it's how your body removes the skin cells damaged by the harmful ultraviolet light in the sun's rays.

How long does it take to peel after a sunburn?

The peeling process can last two to four more days after the redness from , or even another week depending on the severity of the burn, Dr. Wattenberg says.

How do I stop my sunburn from peeling?

Although it's best not to pick at a peeling sunburn, you can speed up the healing process with a few easy recommended by Dr. Wattenberg:

  • Apply and moisturizer to decrease inflammation and help limit peeling.
  • Soothe your burn with a .
  • Use cool compresses made with antioxidant-packed or green tea.

    While the peeling skin may gross you out a little, take it as a sign to remain more diligent about remembering sunscreen next time. Your best bet to prevent peeling remains using plenty of sunblock and avoiding a sunburn in the first place.

    Besides the immediate consequences of a sunburn, frequent UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds cause the majority of cases, according to the . Wearing protective clothing and applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant with an SPF of 30 or higher can literally save your skin in the long run. Shop these tested by the before your next beach day:

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