What is peeling skin?

Peeling skin (desquamation) is the loss or shedding of the outer layer of your skin (epidermis). Peeling skin can be caused by direct damage to the skin or by a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Peeling skin can affect a small area of the skin or the full body and can occur in all age groups and populations. Depending on the cause of peeling skin, it may go away with over-the-counter (OTC) creams or lotions, or it may require treatment of an underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Because of the range of possible causes of peeling skin, a correct diagnosis of the underlying disease, disorder or condition is very important. The goal of the clinical evaluation is to identify the root cause for peeling skin. Contact your health care provider for a physical exam.

Peeling skin that is associated with confusion, change in consciousness, blisters or sores, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, skin pain, or facial swelling can indicate a serious, life-threatening condition, such as toxic shock syndrome or Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have peeling skin with any of these symptoms.

Seek prompt medical care if your peeling skin is unexplained, persistent, or causes you concern.


What other symptoms might occur with peeling skin?

Peeling skin may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other symptoms may affect the digestive tract, respiratory system, nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, immune system, or integumentary system (skin and associated tissues).

Skin symptoms that may occur along with peeling skin

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What causes peeling skin?

Many different diseases, disorders and conditions can lead to peeling skin. Peeling skin can be a sign of allergies, inflammation, infection, or skin damage. More serious causes include severe allergic reactions, drug reactions, and infections.

Allergic causes of peeling skin

Drug, animal, f... Read more about peeling skincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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