The one thing you should never do when you have sunburn

The most important thing to avoid when you have sunburnt skin has been revealed

Sunburn
(Image credit: Letizia Le Fur / Getty Images)

If you ever get sunburnt, you need to know how to treat a sunburn, and experts say that there is one important thing that everyone should avoid when they have it.

When the sun is shining most of us have a lot of SPF-related questions—like does sunscreen expire? But when you are already sunburnt, suncream can't help you anymore, so what should we be doing then?

Sunburnt skin will become reddish and irritated and ultimately begin to flake and peel away. Although it may be tempting to remove the dead skin yourself, experts state that the most important thing to avoid, is peeling the skin off. 

Dr. Natalie Curcio from SkinCancer.org, explains, “Do not pull off your peeling skin and avoid active exfoliation. Instead, allow it to slough off your body on its own.” She further explains, “Peeling usually stops when the burn has healed—about seven days for mild to moderate burns.”

Sunburn

(Image credit: Credit: Sally Anscombe / Getty Images)

What should I avoid when sunburnt?

The NHS also recommends that sunburnt individuals do not pick at their burnt skin, as trying to peel off dead skin can be damaging.

Alongside this, the NHS website states that there are various other things that people are advised to avoid when sunburnt. Such as, not wearing tight clothes on your sunburn or trying to pop any blisters that might arise.

Healthline suggests that smoking cigarettes or consuming tobacco can also hinder the healing process for sunburn. They say, “Smoking or using other forms of tobacco can impair your body’s natural healing process by promoting inflammation throughout your body.”

This next tip may seem obvious but avoiding the sun when you’re sunburnt is imperative, especially as cancerous moles are more like to develop on sun-damaged skin. Exposing your sunburnt skin to more sun can cause more damage to your skin. It is best to limit your skin's exposure to more UV rays and preferably stay inside or in the shade. If you must go out it is best to wear clothing that covers your body fully, and wear suncream.

How can I heal my sunburn?

Dr. Curcio advises that there are some good ways to relieve the injured skin. She advises that to relieve pain, "you can take cold showers or baths and take ibuprofen or aspirin. Also, the best thing to do is moisturize the area with an aloe-vera or soy-based product.”

She goes on to explain, “moisturizing will help soothe sunburned skin, but be careful to avoid petroleum-based or other oil-based creams. These may trap heat and make your sunburn even worse. In addition, don’t forget to drink extra water to prevent dehydration.”

Sunburn

(Image credit: Eric Audras / Getty Images)

Healthline recommends some unusual ways to treat sunburn. The site claims that taking an oatmeal bath can help the skin heal and reduce irritation. You can make an oatmeal bath by mixing a few tablespoons of baking soda and about a cup of oats into a cool bath.

They also suggest that sleep is important when you are sunburnt as good quality sleep allows your body to produce, “certain cytokines that help your body manage inflammation.”

So to help your skin heal if you get a sunburn this summer, get some sleep, stop smoking, and definitely don’t pick at your skin!