Peeling skin: why and how to avoid it?

Peeling skin is a common problem that can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. It is often the result of a variety of factors, including prolonged exposure to the sun , excessively hot showers , dry skin , or sunburn . In this article, we'll explore the causes of peeling skin, its implications for skin health, and ways to prevent and soothe it.

Why does the skin peel?


Scaling, or peeling skin, is a natural physiological phenomenon that is part of the skin's cell renewal process. The skin is constantly regenerating itself, with new skin cells forming in the deeper layers of the epidermis and migrating to the skin's surface over time. When these cells reach the stratum corneum, which is the top layer of the epidermis , they become dead skin cells and are eventually removed from the skin's surface through a process called desquamation.

Peeling is a continuous and imperceptible process under normal conditions, where dead skin cells are constantly removed in a discreet manner. However, certain factors can disrupt this process and lead to excessive and visible peeling of the skin where we then see pieces of “dead skin” falling off.

  • Prolonged exposure to the sun

The sun's UV rays can damage the skin's protective barrier and lead to excessive flaking. Sunburns are often accompanied by peeling skin, as skin cells become damaged and begin to shed.

  • Showers too hot

Hot showers can cause skin to peel, contributing to skin dehydration. Here's how it happens:

Skin dehydration

When you take a hot shower, the hot water can strip away the skin's natural oils, called lipids. These lipids are essential for keeping the skin barrier hydrated and protected. By stripping away these oils, hot water can cause dehydration of the skin, which can make the skin dry and prone to flaking.

Alteration of the skin barrier

Skin dehydration due to a hot shower can weaken the skin barrier, which is responsible for maintaining the skin's hydration and protecting it from external aggressions . When this barrier is compromised, the skin becomes more vulnerable to external irritants and can respond by becoming dry, irritated and prone to flaking.

Increased hydration loss

Hot water can also open the pores of the skin, which can increase the skin's loss of moisture. This can worsen skin dehydration and lead to increased flaking.

Skin irritation

Showers that are too hot can also irritate the skin, especially if combined with harsh cleaning products. This irritation can compromise skin health and contribute to flaking.

In summary, hot showers can cause skin peeling by contributing to skin dehydration, impairing the skin barrier, increasing skin moisture loss, and irritating the skin. To avoid this phenomenon, it is recommended to take lukewarm or cool showers and use gentle, non-irritating cleaning products. Additionally, it's important to apply moisturizer to the skin after showering to seal in moisture and prevent flaking.

  • Dry skins

Dry skin tends to be more prone to flaking because it lacks the natural lubrication needed to keep the skin supple. Certain weather conditions, such as dry air in winter, can also make skin peeling worse.

dry skin

  • Sun burn

A sunburn can cause skin to peel due to damage from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.

When skin is exposed to excessive amounts of UV rays, it can become inflamed. This inflammation is a natural response of the skin to overexposure to the sun. This inflammation can damage skin cells and trigger the body's defense response.

UV rays can damage the DNA of skin cells, which can lead to genetic mutations and cell damage. Damaged cells can trigger a cascade of inflammatory reactions and lead to programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

In response to UV damage, the immune system may be activated. Immune cells can be recruited into the skin to fight damage and repair damaged tissue.

UV-induced inflammation can also lead to the release of inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines and prostaglandins, which can contribute to skin flaking.

In response to UV damage, the skin can speed up the cell turnover process to replace damaged cells. This can lead to peeling of the skin as dead cells are removed from the skin's surface.

As a result, a few days after a sunburn, it is common to notice peeling of the skin in the affected areas. This peeling can be mild to severe depending on the extent of UV damage and individual skin sensitivity. To prevent peeling after a sunburn, it is important to take steps to protect the skin from sun damage, including applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen. regularly and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day. When sunburned, it is also essential to take steps to soothe the skin and promote healing, such as applying cool compresses, moisturizing regularly, and avoiding anything that can further irritate the skin .

How to avoid having peeling skin?

  • Use sunscreen

Sun protection is essential to prevent sun damage and resulting flaking. Generously apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an appropriate SPF before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours.

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun

Limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day when UV rays are most intense. Wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses to protect your skin.

  • Take lukewarm showers

Avoid showers that are too hot, which can dry out the skin and contribute to flaking. Instead, opt for lukewarm showers and limit their duration to preserve skin hydration.

  • Use moisturizers

Apply a gentle, non-irritating moisturizer to your skin after each shower or bath, while the skin is still slightly damp. This will help seal in moisture and prevent flaking.

  • Avoid irritating products

Choose gentle shower gels and skin care products without fragrance or irritating ingredients that could worsen flaking skin.

gentle cleansing gel

How to soothe peeling skin?

If your skin is already peeling, there are steps you can take to relieve discomfort and promote healing:

  • Hydrate regularly

Apply a soothing moisturizer to your skin as often as needed to relieve dryness and irritation.

  • Use cool compresses

Apply cool compresses to areas of peeling skin to soothe inflammation and reduce discomfort.

  • Avoid scratching or rubbing the skin

Resist the urge to scratch or rub the peeling skin, as this can make the irritation worse and lead to further inflammation.

  • Use gentle, non-irritating products

Choose gentle, non-irritating skin care products to avoid worsening skin flaking.

By following these simple tips, you can prevent peeling skin and soothe discomfort if it occurs. Remember to be gentle with your skin and provide it with the moisture and sun protection it needs to stay healthy and glowing. If your symptoms persist or worsen, consult a dermatologist for advice and treatment tailored to your situation.