The Real Damage That Occurs When You Peel Your Sunburn

If you're a fond lover of the sun, your mind may associate the happy weather with warmth and smiles. While being outdoors in the sun can be thoroughly enjoyable, it doesn't come without risks. Dr. Bruce H. Thiers, a board-certified dermatologist and president of the American Academy of Dermatology said that although sunburns are preventable, "one in three U.S. adults gets sunburned" each year. While statistics around the globe vary, sunburns are a very common problem. However, the sun isn't the only cause of skin damage. You can even get burned from the overuse of tanning beds.   


If your case of sunburn is minor, it may clear up easily on its own. However, if you spend a long time in the sun, then you may find that your sunburn is more severe, which can lead to more extreme results. One frustrating consequence of a sunburn is peeling, alongside red, tender skin. Ouch! These results can be pretty damaging to your skin, especially over the long term. 

While it may be tempting to pick and pull the peeling skin, this can spell disaster, too. But what makes peeling so bad anyway? Below, we'll take a look at the real damage that occurs when you peel your sunburn.

You risk scarring your skin

You likely already know that sunburn can damage your skin. However, you could fare far worse consequences by picking at the peeling skin as it sloughs off. For starters, peeling your sunburn could make your skin look far worse than it already is and aggravate the delicate healing process. So, if you're thinking about peeling it off, think twice. 


Speaking to Health, dermatologist Dr. Doris Day highlights the damage it could inflict on your skin. "The worst thing to do is to pull off dead skin because it exposes skin cells that weren't ready to be exposed and increase the risk of infection and scarring," she says. If scarring does occur, it may take up to a year to heal, according to Medical News Today.  For this reason, peeling your sunburn is never a good idea, as the impact on your skin will not only be visible, but could also potentially be long lasting.

However, this isn't the only damage you could see from peeling your sunburn. Alongside potentially scarring your skin, there are a whole host of other damaging consequences that you could face as a result.


It will take longer for your skin to heal

Alongside scarring, peeling your sunburn off could damage your skin in other ways. Speaking to Allure, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loretta Cirlando explains that you could experience "prolonged healing, increased irritation, and inflammation." Although it may not be permanent, it's not an experience that you or your skin is going to benefit from or enjoy. Additionally, the irritation may make it even more tempting to touch and pick at your skin, which will only cause an aggravating cycle of damage. As difficult as it may be, your skin really needs to be left alone to fully heal.


Even if your skin doesn't peel, remember that any sunburn is still damaging to your skin. Speaking to The Sun, London-based skin clinic owner Dr. David Jack says, "Over time, the sun's ultraviolet light damages elastin fibers in the skin which, when broken down, cause the skin to sag, stretch and lose its ability to snap back." Therefore, you should always protect yourself outdoors, ensuring that you know where SPF should go in your skincare routine. There are also benefits of a multitasking retinol sunscreen, which you may want to consider to help prevent burns and peeling in the first place.