Peeling skin is not an uncommon occurrence, however, it usually means that something somewhere along the way went incredibly wrong and caused this type of reaction.
While not uncommon it can be incredibly annoying and even uncomfortable, so today I want to talk about how to stop peeling skin on your face.
Luckily, there are many remedies that will help peeling skin and the damage that’s done to the upper skin layer, the epidermis.
Therefore, this article is going to teach you the following:
- Why your skin is peeling
- What’s causing your skin to peel
- How to stop peeling skin and
- What to avoid doing while your skin is peeling
Why is My Skin Peeling?
Our skin constantly sheds or peels the dead skin cells away in a natural process called desquamation and this process of shedding is moving unnoticeably.
However, many times in the case of an injury or burns (chemical or sunburn) the top layer of our skin, the epidermis starts to abnormally shed the dead skin cells in clusters while forming visible scales.
While this may sound frightening, peeling is the body’s natural way of repairing damaged cells.
Peeling is totally harmless and helps the healing process of a wound, injury, or a burn.
Therefore, when your skin starts to peel, there is probably something that happened to cause an injury and trigger this reaction.
What’s Causing My Skin to Peel?
Peeling skin can occur as a reaction to a number of inflammatory processes of the skin or direct damage to the skin.
Here are some examples:
Sunburn is a classic example of the most common sign of damage to the epidermis.
Sunburn is a radiation burn caused when the UV rays of sunlight damage the DNA of the skin cells in the upper layers.
Through a very complicated chain of reactions, the particles that transmit light from UVA rays (which are the aging rays) interact with the skin and this damages the skin’s proteins, membranes, and DNA.
The particles that transmit light from UVB rays (which are the burning rays) are absorbed by DNA itself, and that extra energy can cause some of the DNA to link up incorrectly.
Once the cells of the top layer of the skin detect DNA damage, they begin producing molecules to attract immune cells into the skin (this is what I like calling “desperate call for help”).
This causes the blood vessels to leak into the spaces between cells and other skin structures and this extra fluid can lead to swelling, red skin, hot sensation, and painful sensitivity of freshly sunburnt skin.
While immune cell invasion begins while you are still sitting comfortably on the beach, but this increases about an hour you come in from the sun.
The process peaks 24 to 48 hours later, which is why the redness of a sunburn can keep developing for a couple of days before the skin starts to peel.
Red, irritated, and inflamed skin that’s been damaged by the sun will flake off slowly to expose new skin underneath.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis may also be a long-term condition affecting the skin.
It typically occurs because of a hypersensitivity reaction triggered by the skin’s intolerance to a sensitizer. Certain triggers for eczema may be:
- Detergents or soaps
Eczema is very common in infants, however many people tend to outgrow hypersensitivity by childhood or early adulthood.
The skin may appear red, inflamed, cracked, blistered, pus-filled, or peeling.
However, generally, it is not covered with scaly dead skin.
If you tend to suffer from this condition, make sure you check my recent article explaining 7 natural remedies for eczema.
Unlike eczema, psoriasis manifests itself on the skin in the form of thick patches of white or silvery scales.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that results in the overproduction of skin cells that build up into silvery-white scales on the skin and peel uncontrollably.
The skin then becomes inflamed and red, causing uncomfortable itching.
While there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are some topical, light-based and systemic pharmaceutical treatments that can put the condition into remission.
Psoriasis isn’t contagious.
Harsh weather conditions.
Cold winter weather may have a harsh effect on your skin. Cold air, wind, and low humidity outdoors dry your skin out.
With the humidity in the air dropping you will have an increase in transepidermal water loss so because of this it is not uncommon to see flaky, irritated, and peeling skin.
Without proper care, dehydrated skin can lead to redness, itchiness, chapping, and cracking, which then opens the path to bacterial infections entering through the damaged tissues.
Chemical burns due to using harsh products.
A chemical burn is irritation of the skin tissue caused by exposure to a chemical, usually by direct contact with the named chemical or its fumes.
However, many chemical burns occur accidentally through misuse of products such as those for hair, skin, and nail care.
Most chemical burns are caused by either strong acids or strong bases that damage and kill the cells.
Also, most chemical burns occur on the face, eyes, hands, arms, and legs as a result of a certain type of medication or topical treatments such as retinoids used for acne.
This can cause peeling skin that can be treated easily by discontinuing the treatment, however, prolonged exposure can severely damage the skin tissues and lead to scarring.
How to Stop Peeling Skin?
Any condition that results in the formation of a blister can potentially result in peeling skin at the area of the blister.
Although peeling skin is not typically associated with a rash, some skin rashes may very well be associated with peeling skin.
Treatments are dependent upon the underlying cause, however, it is of utmost importance to discontinue using the product or repeatedly expose yourself to the cause of your peeling skin (for example sunburn).
Here are several things you could do at home to minimize burning and peeling skin:
Keep the skin cool to prevent peeling.
If your skin is starting to peel it is a good idea to jump in on applying a cold compress in order to soothe it.
Place a cool, wet compress on your skin for several minutes to soothe irritation and stop peeling.
The goal is to reduce the heat and make your skin feel better, however, be sure not to apply ice directly to your skin as this may cause further irritation.
Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help with peeling skin that is sore or painful.
Additionally, anti-inflammatory creams such as cortisone can help reduce inflammation caused by sunburns or extremely harsh weather conditions.
Moisturize your skin.
Find a moisturizer that is designed to help with sunburn or peeling skin.
A super-ingredient for peeling skin is definitely aloe vera as it is made from the natural cactus extract and effective in soothing irritated skin.
However, avoid using raw aloe vera gel derived directly from a plant on your skin as the gel itself can sometimes cause further irritation.
A great example of a soothing moisturizer is the COSRX Aloe Vera Oil-Free Moisture Cream;$20
Ceramides are lipids (fats) that naturally comprise over 50% of the skin’s surface.
One of their main function is to prevent moisture loss and they are virtually unmatched as a skincare ingredient when it comes to helping get rid of flaky or peeling skin.
Ceramides can smooth, revive, and secure the surface skin cells from drying out.
A great example of a nourishing moisturizer is the COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask;$16 that can be used as a moisturizer or a rich leave-on mask.
Leave your skin to heal.
There is really not much that you could do once the damage is done but let your skin heal over the course of the next few days.
By applying cold compress you will relieve the uncomfortable soreness and by using a good, nourishing moisturizer you will aid the skin in healing.
Besides this, you just need to be patient and give it a few days until it peels off.
However, there are some things you should absolutely avoid doing while your skin is healing.
What to Avoid While Your Skin is Peeling?
If you notice that your skin had started peeling as a reaction to a harsh chemical, sunburn, cold weather, or a skin condition, you should absolutely avoid doing the few following things:
Avoid prolonged sun exposure.
Even a short exposure to the sun after your skin starts peeling can lead to a painful and irritating burn.
You can help minimize the discomfort and speed up the healing process by avoiding prolonged sun exposure and always making sure you have an adequate amount of sunscreen on.
Check out my other article and read about 5 practical ways to protect yourself from UV damage.
AHAs and BHAs are the holy grail for having smooth and blemish-free skin.
However, when the top layer of your skin is damaged and trying to repair itself, you should totally avoid these exfoliating agents as exfoliation is totally unnecessary while your skin is literally peeling and not to mention this process can be rather uncomfortable during this time.
Moreover, if you are interested in incorporating AHAs and BHAs as a part of your daily skincare routine, do not forget to read all about them and the benefits they offer first.
You can do so by clicking here.
Avoid peeling it off.
While it can be incredibly tempting to scratch at it or even satisfying to peel the pieces off, this has the potential to make it much worse.
By peeling it off and exposing the new skin underneath, you are also exposing it to harmful bacteria that can lead to infections and other hell on your skin.
Just apply some healing ointments and let it heal itself the best it can.
So there you have it.
Thank you for reading my article on how to stop peeling skin on your face.
I can only hope that you are being careful this summer and avoiding getting sunburnt by all costs.
Trying to cope with my obnoxious acne breakouts forced me into finding a solution to my problem by pursuing a career in the beauty industry. Today, I’m a certified esthetician & I’m passionate about sharing what I know to help you achieve healthy, glowing skin. You can learn more about me here.