Peeling skin can be treated in a number of different ways, as it can have several different causes. In the case of chronic dry skin, dermatitis, or eczema, regular use of emollients & soap substitutes may be of use. In the case of chronic disease, you may be prescribed medication, anti-inflammatories, or medicated topicals such as corticosteroids.
If you are experiencing peeling skin on an ongoing basis, or have suffered a serious burn or sunburn, please do not hesitate to make an appointment to come & see a dermatologist, who can give you the best possible care for your skin.
Peeling skin happens when the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis) becomes damaged & separates from the lower layers. It can come from external damage (such as sunburn or infection) or from a systemic condition such as disease or immune system disorder.
A number of conditions can cause peeling skin, & so you may experience a range of different symptoms depending on the cause, such as rash, itching, dryness, & inflammation. Peeling skin can affect a small or large area of skin, & may be due to short-term or chronic (long-term) factors.
Peeling skin that is caused by environmental factors such as sun, wind, humidity, dryness, heat, or cold can irritate the skin, leading to redness & peeling.
When the skin is peeling in conjunction with a disease or other health condition, some possible symptoms include redness (erythema), rash, spots, bumps, wheals or welts, flaky or scaly skin, mild or intense itching, joint pain, fatigue, muscle aches & pains, skin blisters, sores, lesions, swelling of the lips, face or throat.
Symptoms accompanying peeling skin can affect other parts of the body, not just the skin.
Some of the conditions that can cause the skin to peel include:
- Allergic reaction (to an environmental irritant such as weather conditions or pollen, chemical irritant such as soap or detergent, food allergy)
- Dry skin (chronic or short-term dryness)
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema), often accompanied by bumps or spots which may ooze
- Contact dermatitis, with redness, rash, & bumps
- Seborrheic dermatitis, causing rough & scaly skin, usually on the scalp or face
- Infection (staph infection, fungal infection)
- Athlete’s foot or jock itch, where the skin can be itchy, sore, and/or cracked
- Immune system diseases (such as bullous pemphigoid, psoriasis, scleroderma)
- Kawasaki disease
- Ringworm, accompanied by a red, ring-shaped or very round rash)
- Scarlet fever
- Sunburn, if accompanied by nausea, fever, chills, large areas of blisters or peeling, or mild confusion, is severe & requires immediate medical attention
- Genetic disease
- Cancer or treatment for cancer
- Taking a course of medication that causes side effects of skin peeling
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Acral peeling skin syndrome
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Toxic shock syndrome