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I used sunscreen on my beach vacation, but now my skin is peeling! This is what an expert suggested

Do you see your skin peeling after a sunburn despite having lathered sunscreen? You're not alone, and here's what you can do.
how to avoid sunburn
Avoid sun exposure without protection. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Radhika Bhirani Updated: 22 Oct 2021, 12:28 pm IST
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Look at the social media feeds, and you will know how revenge travelling post the Covid-19 peaks is on a roll! Be it the calming beaches or the serene hills, people are super charged to travel and unleash their ‘vacay’ spirit in sunny spots. But let me remind you from my recent experience – don’t take your skin lightly. Use sunscreen, and use it well.

For someone who was a frequent traveller before the pandemic, heading out on an airplane after over 2 years came with a whole lot of excitement. The picturesque beach destination with azure blue waters quadrupled the excitement to say the least. Knowing that the combination of sun, sand, sea and siesta could be deadly for the skin, I lathered myself in sunscreen. But did it help?

Pre and post sun exposure care is essential for the sake of your skin. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Just two days into the holiday, I felt the prickly and burning sensation that comes with being sunburnt! The tan was obvious but I didn’t see the sunburn coming despite the precautions. Yes, I thought the sunscreen would save me a wee bit, but I was wrong. The sun was too harsh, and the sunscreen perhaps too mild to work as a protective layer. The result?

Within a week after I returned from the vacation, I saw my white spots on my arm and soon after, the skin started peeling away on its own. Sunburn peeling, it was! It looked just like a layer of dried glue.

What did I do? Firstly, I didn’t peel it! And second, I did just what you need to do if you land in this situation – I reached out to a skin expert!


Dr Anupriya Goel, Dermatologist and Medical Director of Berkowits chain of clinics, came to my rescue.

Use these ways to take care of your skin after a sunburn despite using sunscreen:
  • Use a moisturising soap during a bath twice a day
  • Avoid hot water baths and steam
  • Moisturise your body well with oil (coconut oil is great for hydration) or cream
  • Apply sunscreen after moisturising.

Dr Goel, who is also the author of the book How To Get Glass Skin, says skin peeling can take at least two to three weeks to settle down.

You should not indulge in exfoliation or scrubbing immediately after sunburn, and must typically wait for at least two weeks for either chemical or physical exfoliation. Also, those de-tanning spa treatments are a no-no, please!

Also Read: Are you sunburnt? Watch out for these signs and symptoms to know

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Exfoliation after a sunburn is totally avoidable. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But what if the skin itches?

Aloe vera can alleviate itching. Fresh aloe vera can cause a little irritation to some individuals. If it doesn’t cause itching, go for it as it can soothe the skin significantly,” she told HealthShots.

The expert reminded us that using sunscreen correctly and all over the body is the most important thing.

Here’s how to use the sunscreen in the right way:
  • You must use it 15 minutes before you go out in the sun.
  • Apply at least 2.5 fingertip units ( 1/2 teaspoon) on the face and neck and reapply it every two hours if you are in the sun.
  • The best way to protect your face is to wear a hat and use sunglasses. That gives extra protection.

Just so you know, a friend who was travelling with me did another smart thing. She wore a swimsuit that covered her arms, instead of choosing an itsy-bitsy bikini, and there’s no skin peeling for her!

Applying aloe vera gel can soothe your skin! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Understanding sunscreen

Skin experts keep reiterating the importance of sunscreen for everyday use. Applying a generous amount of sunscreen to your face and body is something that can protect you from the UV rays and their side-effects.

Sunscreen has its own ‘SPF’ (sun protection factor) level, which is a rating to help determine for how long one can stay in the sun, without running the risk of getting sunburned, while wearing sunscreen.

According to experts, choosing a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30+, applying sunscreen early before going out, picking the right type of sunscreen for your skin and using sunscreen no matter what the forecast, form the right approach.

I am now better geared to safeguard myself for a sunburn-free vacation. If you’re heading out for a sojourn to feel the sun and sand, I hope it’s the same for you, dear ladies!

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About the Author

Radhika Bhirani is a journalist with close to 15 years of experience in the Indian media industry. After writing extensively on health, lifestyle and entertainment, she leads the English content team at Health Shots. She has a special interest in writing on mental health and wellness. ...Read More

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