Why Your Skin Is Perpetually Peeling
What’s worse than peeling skin? Perpetually peeling skin. Nobody likes the look of white dead skin slowly peeling off the skin, and sometimes it can also be very painful and sore. Peeling skin is also known as desquamation, and it’s a fairly common skin condition that involves the shedding of the outermost epidermal layer. This can be due to internal causes such as an underlying skin condition or disease, or it can also be due to exposure to irritants and pollutants in the environment, and can also be a result of burns.
Essentially, peeling skin comes about from a loss of skin cells. This is a natural process as the body continually undergoes a process of skin cell renewal, we just don’t see or feel the effects of it most of the time because it happens at the cellular level. This process is what sheds dead, aged skin cells and replaces them with fresh, new skin cells. Skin renewal is an important process that happens to everybody. The body sheds approximately 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every day and new ones rise up to the top. The epidermal cells are arranged similarly to a brick and mortar wall, held together by a “mortar” made of lipids (fats), which is what keeps the skin cells nice and flat, making them smooth and neat. The epidermis also has a mixture of dead skin cells and natural oils that collect water, giving your skin the hydration and moisture that it needs. When this glue that holds them together gets loosened, this causes the water in the skin cells to escape, hence causing a drop in moisture levels and hence the aforementioned dryness of the skin. Dryness of skin results in the epidermal layer flaking off due to the broken glue of lipids, hence causing the peeling of the skin.
If you are experiencing perpetual skin peeling and it is starting to worry you, you might want to consider what is causing this constant peeling. Below, we give a list of reasons your skin might be peeling, from the mildest to slightly more serious that might need medical help.
Dry skin happens when the skin does not have sufficient moisture. Some people have naturally dry skin because their skin does not produce enough oil/sebum to keep the skin moisturized. When there is not enough moisture and oil in the skin, this causes the skin cells to rapidly lose moisture and hence the skin becomes dry. Dry skin can be caused by many factors such as genetics and the environment. Living in areas with low humidity or weather changes can also cause the skin to dry out. When the humidity of the air falls there is less moisture in the surrounding environment for our skin to draw from. Moisturizer is one of the best ways to remedy dry skin. The aim of it is to rehydrate the epidermis and lock in moisture. However, moisturizer is only a temporary fix and dry skin can be caused by a range of lifestyle factors including the frequency of your hand-washing and taking overly long hot showers. Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to try and beat dry skin and stop the peeling
Don’t stay in the shower for too long
Taking a long, hot shower or bath is one of life’s greatest comforts, especially when it is cold and gloomy outside. Sadly, hot baths and showers are massive culprits for dry skin, and you should try to wrap up your shower as soon as you can. Take quicker showers, and immediately apply a body moisturizer once you get out.
Double up on moisturizer and a body oil
Add an extra step to your skincare routine. Apply your moisturizer or body lotion right after getting out of the shower. The skin should be damp when you apply moisturizers to let it penetrate the skin more deeply. If your skin is particularly dry, double up the moisture by adding body oil to your routine.
Get rid of fragranced products
Fragrances have a tendency to further irritate dry skin. Fragrances impart scent on the skin through a very volatile reaction and can act as a sensitizer on the skin, causing itchiness, redness, and dryness. Check your products, especially deodorants, body lotions, and even moisturizers for fragrance. It’s best to avoid all fragranced products on the skin, and whenever you are buying products be sure to get the fragrance-free options.
The sun is extremely damaging to the skin. You are probably familiar with getting sunburnt after a day under the sun. Coming back all red is never a good sign and peeling is likely to follow. After a sunburn, the skin is often very red, sore, and can even feel hot when you touch it. The peeling of the skin will happen as the skin tries to repair its epidermal layer. The skin layer that is burnt is pretty much dead, and the skin barrier will be compromised because of it. The lipids that hold it together have basically been burnt away, causing the skin cells to lose shape and structure, resulting in the skin peeling. It should be obvious if you are experiencing sunburn, you’ll get it if you spend time under the sun.
Treat it with something cooling
Apply something cooling such as aloe vera to alleviate the pain of a sunburn. If it is more serious such as a darker red tone and really hurts, you might want to see a dermatologist as this means not only are the top layers of your skin damaged, but the burn has reached the deeper layers too. A dermatologist may prescribe some anti-inflammatory painkillers and topical creams to soothe the area. Never pick at your sunburn as this can cause further damage to the skin.
If your peeling skin is also red and itchy, it might be eczema. Eczema is commonly mistaken for dry and sensitive skin when it occurs on the chin and cheeks. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that occurs because the skin barrier is weak and cannot protect itself from irritants. You can get eczema from allergic reactions to things in the surroundings such as soaps, fragrances, makeup products, chlorine in swimming pools, and many other things. If your skin is red and irritated and starts to crust, and you itch a lot, you probably have eczema.
Try a thick moisturizer
You can try a home solution first to see if it improves eczema, such as a petrolatum-based product that provides protection against the environment. A thick dermatologist-approved moisturizer such as Cetaphil is a great option as it is gentle and very affordable. Apply it to the affected area and see how it goes. If it does not heal, go see a dermatologist and get prescriptions.
Contact dermatitis is a much more serious skin condition that you will definitely want to get medical help for. It is caused by direct contact with something in the surroundings that causes an allergic reaction in the form of inflammation. Many substances can cause contact dermatitis from makeup products to soaps, plants, and even jewelry. The rash will look very similar to any sort of allergic inflammation so it is hard to determine what caused it. If you suspect you might have contact dermatitis, go see a dermatologist as the best way to treat it is with a prescription type topical steroid to bring down the swelling and heal the area.
Whatever the cause of your peeling skin it is important to make sure you know the source of it and get the right treatment. Always see a dermatologist when in doubt, they can diagnose your problem much more safely than trial and error.