Skin peeling: 9 main causes (and what to do)

Skin Peeling

Skin peeling happens when the most superficial layers are eliminated, which is usually caused by simple situations, such as dry skin. However, when it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as redness, pain, itching or swelling, it can also be a sign of a more serious problem, such as dermatitis, fungal infection and even lupus.

In most cases, skin peeling can be prevented through measures such as moisturizing the skin or using hygiene products suited to your skin type. However, if symptoms last more than a week or if the peeling becomes very uncomfortable, it is recommended to see a dermatologist to identify the cause and start the most appropriate treatment.

1. Dry skin

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Dry skin, scientifically known as xeroderma, occurs when the sebaceous glands and sweat glands start to produce oily matter and sweat in smaller quantities than normal, which causes the skin to become drier and end up peeling.

What to do: it is recommended to drink the recommended daily amount of water, avoid taking baths with very hot water, use neutral or glycerin soap and moisturize the skin with creams suitable for your skin type. See some ways to hydrate your skin.

2. Sunburn

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Sunburn happens when you are exposed to the sun for a long time without any type of sun protection, which allows UV radiation to be absorbed by the skin. When this happens, UV rays destroy layers of the skin, leaving it red and peeling.

Generally, sunburn is more common in places that are constantly exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms or back, for example.

What to do: it is important to take a shower with cold water, apply creams suitable for post-sun exposure, taking into account that they help to alleviate discomfort and promote skin healing. Understand how sunburn is treated.

3. Contact allergy

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Contact allergy, also known as contact dermatitis, happens when the skin comes into direct contact with an allergenic substance, such as perfumes, cosmetics or cleaning products. This type of allergy can cause symptoms such as redness, itching, sores and bumps on the skin, which can appear immediately or up to 12 hours after contact, depending on the type of product to which you were exposed.

What to do: it is recommended to avoid contact with the allergenic product, wash your skin with cold water and neutral pH soap and take an antihistamine, as prescribed by your doctor. If the allergy appears frequently, it is possible to carry out some allergy tests to check which substances cause the symptoms and adapt the treatment. See when it is recommended to take an allergy test.

4. Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes pink or reddish plaques covered with white scales on the skin. The dimensions of the lesions vary and can appear on any part of the body, however, the most common locations are elbows, knees and scalp. One of the characteristics of psoriasis is peeling of the skin, which is sometimes accompanied by itching.

The intensity of the disease’s symptoms can vary according to the climate and some factors such as stress and alcohol consumption.

What to do: psoriasis treatment must be recommended by a dermatologist and is normally done with creams or gels to apply to the skin, as well as taking medication or treating it with ultraviolet rays. Understand better what psoriasis is and how it is treated. Understand better what psoriasis is and how it should be treated.

5. Atopic dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease that causes dry skin due to difficulty retaining water and insufficient production of fat by the sebaceous glands, which causes the skin to have a greater tendency to peel. Atopic dermatitis causes intense itching of the skin and is mainly located on the elbows, knees, wrists, back of the hands, feet and genital region.

This disease can appear in childhood and generally tends to decrease until adolescence, and may appear again in adulthood.

What to do: Proper skin hygiene and hydration are important in order to keep the skin as hydrated as possible. In some cases it may be necessary to consult a dermatologist to begin a more appropriate treatment using emollient creams and medications applied to the skin. Check out how to identify atopic dermatitis.

6. Seborrheic dermatitis

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Seborrheic dermatitis is a disease characterized by peeling of the skin, especially in places where there are more sebaceous glands, such as the head and upper part of the trunk. When it appears on the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis is commonly called “dandruff”, but it can appear in other places with hair, such as the beard, eyebrows or in places with folds, such as armpits, groin or ears.

The flaking caused by seborrheic dermatitis is normally oily and tends to be more frequent in situations of stress and changes in the weather. Additionally, it may be accompanied by symptoms such as skin redness and itching.

What to do: seborrheic dermatitis has no cure, however, there are some precautions to reduce skin peeling and reduce itching, such as applying a repair cream to the skin, using shampoo suitable for the skin type, carrying out adequate skin hygiene and using light and airy clothing. In severe cases, it is necessary to consult a dermatologist to start a more appropriate treatment, which can be done with corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone or dexamethasone, for example. Understand better what seborrheic dermatitis is and how to treat it.

7. Yeast infection

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Fungal infection can be caused by various types of fungi and is transmissible between people both through direct contact and through contaminated objects, especially if there is heat and humidity.

Typically, a fungal infection causes peeling of the skin, which may be accompanied by cracks and itching, and is more common in warm, humid places such as toes, armpits, groin or other skin folds. It is also common for sweating to worsen itching, increasing discomfort.

What to do: the treatment must be carried out with antifungal creams, recommended by the doctor and in addition it is important to take some precautions to reduce body humidity and control the infection, such as drying the body well after bathing or after perspiring, wearing airy clothes and avoiding sharing objects of personal hygiene. See how to identify a fungal skin infection and how to treat it.

8. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus

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Cutaneous lupus erythematosus is characterized by reddish lesions with a brown border and peeling skin. Typically, these lesions are located in areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears or scalp.

What to do: Treatment of this disease must include daily care to control sun exposure, such as wearing a hat, wearing long-sleeved clothing and applying sunscreen. In more serious cases, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist to recommend a more specific treatment, such as the use of corticosteroid creams or other medications. Understand better what lupus is, its symptoms and treatment. more about lupus.

9. Skin cancer

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Although it is rarer, peeling can also be a sign of skin cancer, especially in people who are exposed to the sun for a long time without any type of sun protection.

In addition to peeling, skin cancer can also cause spots, which are usually asymmetrical, with an irregular border, more than one color and larger than 1 cm. Understand better how to identify the signs of skin cancer.

What to do: treatment of the disease depends on the type and stage of the cancer and surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be necessary. Generally, the sooner treatment is started, the greater the chances of a cure.