7 Reasons Your Skin May be Peeling

October 16, 2018
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | skincare.com by L'Oréal
7 Reasons Your Skin May be Peeling

Once your skin starts to peel, it can be hard to get it to stop. But with so many different causes associated with peeling skin, it can be difficult to avoid it completely. Still, knowledge is power; If you bring yourself up to speed on all the factors that can cause peeling skin, you’ll be in a much better position to tackle those pesky flakes. Keep reading to find out what peeling skin is, what can cause your skin to peel, how you can get your peeling skin under control, and last—but certainly not least—how you can prevent your skin from peeling in the first place! 

What is peeling skin?

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Peeling skin refers to the shedding of the outermost layer of skin. This can occur anywhere on the body, and can happen to all age groups, skin types, tones, and ethnicities. Since there’s more than one reason why your skin can start to peel, pinpointing a root cause can prove difficult.

What causes peeling skin?

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Not sure what’s causing your skin to peel? Below, we’re sharing seven common causes of peeling skin according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Peeling Skin Cause #1: Dryness

When your skin is dry, it is essentially lacking moisture. This can occur due to a number of reasons, including exposure to hot or cold weather or low humidity environments. That’s why most people experience skin dryness during the winter months. Subzero temps, whipping winds, and artificial heat can cause the skin to dry out quickly. In addition to a dulled appearance, dry skin can also begin to flake off when touched or scratched, leading to skin peeling for some. 

Peeling Skin Cause #2: Sunburn

Have you ever spent too much time outdoors, exposed to UV rays without proper sun protection, only to come back home and notice your skin looks red and feels hot to the touch? Chances are you’re experiencing a sunburn. Your skin may not start to peel right away, but a telltale sign of sunburn is dead skin cells that eventually peels off to allow for new cells to come to the surface.

Peeling Skin Cause #3: Allergic Reactions

Did you recently switch out your moisturizer for a new formula or switch your laundry detergent? It’s possible your skin is having an allergic reaction to certain ingredients in your skin care products, soaps, detergents, shampoos and more. When that happens, some people may experience skin peeling as a result.

Peeling Skin Cause #4: Certain Skin Conditions

When your skin is prone to certain inflammatory skin conditions—think: psoriasis and eczema—peeling skin may be more of a frequent occurrence. That’s because both psoriasis and eczema can cause itchy, scaly skin that can begin to peel. Both conditions are chronic, but there are ways to help control symptoms.

To learn more about psoriasis and how to care for it, click here.

To learn more about eczema and how to care for it, click here.

Peeling Skin Cause #5: Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that mainly affects your scalp causing scaly patches, red skin, and dandruff. According to the Mayo Clinic, seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that can cause peeling skin.

Peeling Skin Cause #6: Over-Cleansing

Whether you’re cleansing your face or your body, over-doing it can have a negative impact. Harsh soaps and cleansers can strip the skin of moisture, and if you kick your cleansing habit into overdrive you risk drying out your skin significantly. As we mentioned earlier, skin that’s dry can begin to flake and peel.

Peeling Skin Cause #7: Athlete’s Foot

When your feet are sweaty for too long and stuck inside tight shoes, a fungal infection called athlete’s foot can begin to develop. Symptoms of athlete’s foot can include a scaly rash that feels itchy, strings, and burns. This dryness and scaling can lead to peeling skin on your feet. 

How can you stop peeling skin?

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Your peeling skin plan will largely depend on what is causing your skin to peel in the first place. If your peeling skin is a result of dryness associated with the climate, keeping your skin hydrated with rich creams can often help significantly. Also, stay hydrated by drinking the recommended amount of water daily. Once your skin’s moisture levels are restored, your skin should look plumped with moisture, comfortable and healthy-looking. 

Another great tip to keep your peeling skin from getting worse is to be extra gentle when completing your skin care routine. Avoid rubbing your skin abrasively with towels or cloths, since they can make peeling worse. After bathing, gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel and follow immediately with moisturizer from head to toe. 

Lastly, keep your skin covered with protective clothing when heading outdoors, and be diligent with applying broad-spectrum sunscreen. Taking necessary precautions to avoid a sunburn can help prevent your peeling skin from getting worse. 

How can you prevent peeling skin?

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Here are some tips that can help reduce the chances of your skin from peeling.

Tip #1: Hydrate from the Inside Out

In addition to moisturizing your skin morning and night, drink the recommended amount of water each and every day. The best time to hydrate your skin is directly after bathing while your skin is still slightly damp.

Tip #2: Avoid Drying Skin Care Ingredients

Certain skin care ingredients are notorious for causing skin peeling. These can include acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, as well as multi-tasking powerhouse retinol. If your skin is prone to peeling, talk to your dermatologist about alternative products or ingredients you can use to target your concerns.

Tip #3: Be Diligent with Sunscreen

To keep sunburn at bay, apply broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher prior to heading outdoors, rain or shine, and reapply at least every two hours. Take additional sun protection measures such as wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding peak sun hours.

Tip #4: Reach for Hypoallergenic Alternatives

If you suspect that your skin care products are to blame for your skin peeling, you may be allergic to some of the ingredients. Some common skin irritants can include parabens, fragrances, and silicones. Talk to your dermatologist about whether or not hypoallergenic skin care products are worth your while.

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