Now that the actual sun has started making an appearance, it’s practically inevitable that we’re going to get sunburnt and after one of the hottest weekends on record, we’re sure plenty of you are reaching for the aloe vera. Sometimes, we forget the suncream. Sometimes, we fall asleep on the beach. Sometimes, we inexplicably decide we don’t need SPF protection if we just wish hard enough for a lovely tan instead of raw, red skin.
So, if you’re the type of person who burns and then peels – ouch – here are some handy tips to help reduce the damage.
We spoke to GP and skin expert Dr Ross Perry, who runs the Cosmedicsskin clinics – here’s his best advice.
Protect your skin
“If the skin is peeling then that is a clear sign that it has been damaged by overexposure to the sun,” says Dr Perry. “Peeling means that your skin is shedding outer layers and revealing new layers of skin. During this time it is very important to protect new and peeling skin from further damage, so stay out of the sun if you can. If you must go out, then cover up in long layers (long sleeved shirts, loose trousers, hat and sunglasses) and ensure any exposed areas are thoroughly protected with high protection factor sunscreen i.e. SPF50.”
“While the skin is shedding, you can relieve any itching or discomfort by keeping it well hydrated. Slather on lots of moisturiser. Aloe vera gel can be soothing as well as moisturising and can help to take the sting out of any lingering sunburn. Drink plenty too, to ensure your body is hydrated from within. This helps the skin and hydration is also key to your body’s general recovery and renewal mechanisms.”
Do not pick at it
“Don’t be tempted to pick at the peeling, however bad it looks. It will come off in its own good time. If the skin is very flaky, you can give it a gentle rub with a dry flannel to slough off any very loose bits, but now is certainly not the time for aggressive treatments. Your skin needs TLC while recovering. Avoid alcohol if possible whilst recovering!”
Keep it cool
“Apply cold flannels to soothe red or burnt skin. Just run a face cloth under a cold tap and apply to sore skin for 10 minutes to take the heat out. You could try coconut oil instead of aloe vera gel – it’s a great moisturiser and very versatile. Calamine cream is another alternative – super cheap and very soothing. Avoid the lotion as it tends to be quite runny and leave a white film on the skin.”
Get in the bath
“Instead of showering, take a bath. You could try an oatmeal bath or add some lavender oil or baking soda. Avoid any harsh or heavily perfumed products. Apply chilled cucumber – you can cut it into discs or make a soothing mulch.”
Watch those moles
“Once the peeling has finished, it’s important to be vigilant going forward. Your skin has been damaged by overexposure to the sun and this is linked to a higher risk of skin cancer. So don’t let it happen again and remember to keep an eye out for any worrying blemishes. These can appear decades after a sunburn. If you have any concerns about ‘odd’ moles, then see a GP to get them checked out.”