Skin is the way it is because it is very adaptable. Which is great, given the vast number of different environments humans need to live in. By constantly creating new skin and shedding the old, we are guaranteed to have smooth, flawless, pliable outer wrappings—or, at least, that’s the idea. For the most part, our skin would shed its expired cells just fine without our assistance. However, some of us might not be terribly excited with the prospect of looking like a vampire at sunrise when our skin decided to shed a layer. Luckily for us, humanity has discovered the art of washing. Like Prometheus, who gave fire to the mortals, the discovery of soap and its cleansing abilities has progressed humanity from a dirty, smelly, balding ape to the perfumed, angelic forms we are today. That is to say, with our skin rubbed raw from overzealous exfoliation. Now that’s progress at its finest.
Possible Peeling Problems
Several dozen skin conditions lead to peeling. Here are a few of the bigger problems:
- Eczema. Also called dermatitis, eczema is an inflammation of the skin, often related to allergic reaction, infection, or prior injury.
- Psoriasis. A condition that involves new skin cells being made faster than older cells can shed away, causing raised, red areas of irritation that are covered with patches of scaly, white, dead skin.
- Ichthyosis. A genetic condition of the skin that leaves the sufferer with varying degrees of scaly, itchy skin that sheds, peels, and generally makes them miserable.
Getting Rid of Peeling Skin
Peeling skin after a sunburn is part of the healing process. If you get a sunburn at the beach and the skin starts peeling, all this means is that you should leave it (along with any kinds of blisters) alone until it starts to separate from your body. Even then, try to resist the temptation to pull it free. It’s all right to cut off any loose skin, but pulling at it might tear healthy skin, potentially exposing you to infection. Moisturizing the area with an aloe vera skin cream can help to keep the peeling area from being too dried out. Of course, the best way to get rid of peeling from sunburn is to avoid the sun or prevent overexposure with sunblock.
The right cleanser can help get rid of peeling skin. Any bar of soap will get you clean, but many soaps will dry out your skin, especially when applied above the neckline. As a general rule, creamier cleansers should be used on drier skin and clear cleansers on oily skin. However, it never hurts to experiment with different kinds of facial washes to find one that meets your needs. First, rinse your face with warm water, and then apply some of the cleanser, making sure to work it into your skin. It should not take much cleanser to clean your face of excess oil and contaminants. Rinse when complete.
Speed up peeling skin with exfoliation. Facial scrubs are mild soaps with little harder bits mixed in. Those little bits preemptively loosen up dead skin patches. The cheaper scrubs have larger, poppy seed-like grains in them, and aren’t ideal since they could actually scratch your skin. You’ll want to look for scrubs that are gentle enough for daily use, yet will still remove that layer of skin. Another option is to use a microdermabrasion kit. These are a little bit more involved and might have some aspects of a chemical peel combined with the scrubbing action. They shouldn’t be used more than once a week.
Moisturizing away dry, peeling skin. Moisturizing can be a touchy subject, mostly due to the fact that applying lotions and creams to your face might increase the risk of an acne breakout. Most of us would probably trade slightly dry skin for a clear face. However, there are good products out there that, when applied correctly and in the right amounts, shouldn’t contribute to an acne problem. You want a product that will increase moisture, but not clog the pores. Everyone’s skin needs are unique, so try out several and compare the results. My favorite is a cream by Nivea that my mom uses and buys in bulk.
Prevent peeling skin with a regular and balanced routine.I find I have the most problems with peeling skin when I travel or deviate from my normal routine. Changes in water minerals, using weird soaps, or maybe not face washing for a couple days will inevitably cause damage. As much as I like to stay clean and flake free, I don’t freak out about it. If I thought it mattered that much, I would pack a separate bag for my exfoliation regimen. Beauty experts agree that once you find what works, stick with it, even when you’re on the road.
Not Too Appealing
Most peeling skin is a fairly minor annoyance usually caused by too much time in the sun or a dry environment. In some cases, peeling skin is a sign of a larger, more severe problem. If you have an area of dry skin that doesn’t seem to want to go away with a basic, skin care regimen, or if it’s persisted for more than a week or two, you should visit a dermatologist. Some of the skin disorders listed in the left sidebar are curable and some are not. In all likelihood, a dermatologist will know how to treat the symptoms, and at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing what ails you.