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Causes of exfoliating skin and how to deal with it

As the largest body organ, the skin has a variety of functions. The skin protects the organ system in the body, regulates body temperature, as a sense of touch that helps us feel pleasant stimuli or pain, while also functioning as a shield that protects against the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Peeling facial skin is a normal process that occurs in response to the body to remove dead skin layers. But this process is sometimes followed by other symptoms such as rash, itching, and dryness, which can be caused by several things such as skin irritation, sun exposure, infection, or allergies.

Peeling skin does not only occur on facial skin, but can also occur in the skin of other body parts, such as hands, feet, around nails, or other body areas. What makes the skin peel off? How to handle it? Let's see the following explanation.

Why is the skin peeling off?

Because of its protective function, the skin must have a healing action plan for when you are injured. This process is basically the regeneration of dead skin cells, to be replaced with healthier skin cells. But, the cells in the upper layer of the skin continually renew themselves even when no danger is detected. This is the process.

Your skin consists of several layers. The top layer that you can see is called the epidermis. The epidermis consists of cells made from keratin. When keratin reaches the upper layer of the epidermis, keratin will age and slowly "wither" due to exposure to weather and the outside environment. Finally, the skin cells break away from the epidermis and peel, giving rise to young skin cells that grow under it.

How much skin is peeled off every year?

If you wonder how many skin cells are peeling off, be prepared to be surprised. Experts estimate that 16 percent of your body's weight comes from the skin. During a 24-hour period, you lose nearly one million skin cells. Within a year, the amount of dead skin peeled from your body can reach 4 kilograms. These skins exfoliate in the form of super fine flakes, which are the main components of house dust that you normally see piling on the surface of the table to the shutters.

On the other hand, flaking skin can also indicate skin irritation due to side effects of medications, diseases or skin conditions you might have - from dry skin, psoriasis, allergies, bacterial and fungal infections, cancer and treatment, to rare genetic diseases. Peeling skin is also a sign of damage that is usually caused by sunburn or drying facial care products.

Causes of Exfoliating Facial Skin

Here are some of the causes of facial skin peeling:


Frequent exposure to the sun can make the skin peel off. Before peeling, the phase you are going to experience is that the skin is red and painful and hot when touched. Usually this occurs about a few hours after exposure to sunlight. A few days later, the damaged skin layer will peel and the skin starts to heal on its own. This peeling may make the skin color uneven and look like patterned.

Dry skin

For those of you who have dry skin types, you are at high risk of having peeling facial skin, especially if you are constantly in contact with water, soap or cream that contains irritating substances, hot water, very hot and cold weather, and sunlight. The aging process can also make the skin dry.

Having dry skin is actually not dangerous, but there are also dry skin caused by serious disorders, such as ichthyosis. Ichthyosis is a skin disorder caused by a derivative factor.


Some people often experience allergies. When facial skin comes into contact with allergens, the skin can react. Not only exfoliation, the reaction may cause itching, rashes or blisters.

Side effects of drugs

Some drugs such as retinoid cream, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) can apparently make the skin peel off. Retinoid creams are commonly used to treat acne, reduce wrinkles, and lighten brown spots on the skin. This cream works by pushing the skin cells to die and regenerate. As a result, the top layer of facial skin peels to open the way for new skin cells to grow. In addition, side effects of chemotherapy drugs, drug allergies such as antibiotics, epilepsy drugs, and certain blood pressure-lowering drugs can also make the skin flake.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

This condition is chronic (long-term) and tends to recur frequently. The cause of eczema cannot be known with certainty, but is often associated with dry skin, weather, immune system disorders, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and genetic factors.

Until now there is no cure for atopic dermatitis. However, there are treatments that can prevent the skin from peeling and relieving itching.

How to deal with exfoliating skin

Overcoming peeling facial skin must be adjusted to the cause. But in general, peeling skin can be handled in the following ways:

  • Compress the skin with cold water.
  • Consumption of lots of water.
  • Regularly apply moisturizer, especially after bathing.
  • Do not scratch the peeling skin because it can aggravate the condition and cause infection.
  • Avoid exposure to substances or chemicals that can irritate the skin. Replace facial soap with soft soap that is safe for the skin.


In addition to the simple treatments above, you can do additional treatment if you experience facial skin peels caused by certain diseases or conditions that you experience. Among them:

  • How to deal with peeling facial skin due to allergies is taking antihistamine drugs. This drug can relieve the reactions caused by allergies.
  • If you suffer from eczema, you should consult a doctor. The doctor may prescribe a cream containing corticosteroids, tacrolimus or pimecrolimus. Doctors may also recommend therapies such as light therapy.
  • Exfoliation due to the effects of drugs can be overcome by stopping their use. But if you are undergoing chemotherapy, you should consult a doctor to get further treatment.
  • To overcome facial skin flaking due to genetic diseases, it's good to consult a doctor immediately to get proper treatment.


As long as the skin peels off, you are advised to avoid things that can aggravate skin conditions, such as sun exposure, soap, creams, lotions and cosmetics that contain irritating ingredients, hot water, and extreme weather conditions such as very hot or cold.



Henochowicz, S. US National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus (2016). Allergies - overview.

American Academy of Dermatology AAD. Dry skin.

American Academy of Dermatology AAD. How to safely exfoliate at home.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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