To alleviate the pain of peeling sunburns, take over-the-counter pain relievers, take a cool shower, moisturize, use cold compresses and apply anti-bacterial ointment. These steps can heal even the most painful sunburn.
The first thing to do after getting a sunburn is to take anti-inflammatory medication. Ibuprofen or aspirin helps ease the pain, redness and inflammation. Then take a cool shower. This will help to soothe the sting of the burn and remove any potential irritants like salt or chlorine.
Once the skin has been cleaned, it is time to moisturize. Apply a salve that is lightweight and contains healing ingredients. Do not apply moisturizers that are too thick, as they can trap the heat in the skin. A good moisturizer can help prevent peeling before it starts.
Cold compresses are another great way to cool down. Soak a washcloth in cool milk or water, then apply it to the sunburned area. It is inadvisable, however, to put ice directly onto the skin. This can actually lead to frostbite.
If any part of the sunburn is blistered, apply an antibacterial ointment to the area. Do not pick at the blisters, as this can cause infection and additional pain.