Woman in the sun with a sunburn

When a day of outdoor fun leaves you with a painful sunburn, you can expect to face days of discomfort and skin changes. Ultimately, the red and inflamed skin will peel, revealing a new -- and extra-sensitive -- layer of skin underneath. Eliminating this peeling skin -- gently, of course -- expedites the skin healing process.

When ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin, these rays kill the cells on the top layer and dry them out. As a result, the top layers of skin need to be rebuilt, and the burned skin serves as a layer of protection as this reparative process takes place underneath. Once the new skin is ready to be exposed, this top layer begins to peel.

Shedding this layer of burned and dried-out skin starts the healing process, allowing you to lose that damaged skin and expose new, healthier -- albeit sensitive -- skin underneath.


Always apply SPF 15 to SPF 30 sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoors to avoid future sunburns. When you're outdoors during the sun's peak hours -- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- be extra vigilant and reapply sunscreen regularly.

During the skin-peeling process, several techniques can be used to gently encourage the shedding of this dry and damaged skin.