Dry skin (xerosis cutis) can cause the skin on your face to peel, as can other health conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. Cold air, hot showers, and fluctuating humidity can cause peeling skin, especially in the winter. Skin that peels over a large portion of your body is called exfoliative dermatitis.
For people who wear makeup, covering up peeling skin can aggravate the problem and make the peeling worse. But being patient while you wait for your skin to stop peeling can be difficult. Keep reading to find out what dermatologists recommend for getting rid of peeling skin on your face.
Peeling skin on your face can be addressed with home remedies and medication. Most home remedies emphasize prevention, while traditional medication and facial treatments can sometimes heal dry skin that’s already peeling.
You may choose to use home remedies in tandem with a prescription that you get from a doctor.
If your skin is already peeling, refrain from touching it as much as you can. While you may want to cover your peeling skin with makeup, chances are that piling makeup on top of your skin won’t make the peeling any less noticeable. Cosmetics can also dry out your skin and make the peeling worse.
- Use fragrance-free and mild cleansers and soaps. Building a soap lather on your skin’s surface dries out your skin.
- Avoid products that could make your skin drier. Antibacterial soaps, deodorant soaps, and skin care products that contain alcohol should be avoided, especially on your face.
- After washing your face, apply a moisturizer. Washing your face can add moisture to dry skin, but you need a moisturizer to lock in the effects on your skin.
- Use soft towels when you touch your face. Rougher towels can damage your skin.
- Dermatologists recommend that you take shorter showers and try to use lukewarm to warm water instead of using hot water. The steam from a shower can open up your pores, but it can also dry out your skin.
- Always pat the skin on your face dry instead of rubbing your face. This helps preserve the smoothness of your skin.
- Exfoliate your face to get rid of skin that’s peeling, but do it the right way. If your skin is peeling, avoid using a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids, alcohol, or perfume. Try using lukewarm water and a soft washcloth or shower mitt to gently rub the skin on your face and loosen any skin that’s flaking. Don’t ever peel your skin, especially when it’s wet.
- Applying a topical anti-inflammatory agent, such as aloe vera, could help your skin to heal.
Medical treatment and acne medication
A dermatologist may treat peeling skin with a combination of medication and treatments administered in their office. If you have an underlying health condition that’s causing the skin on your face to peel, you may need to begin treatment or adjust your current treatment for that condition before your symptoms improve. Treatments for peeling skin on your face include:
Dry skin is the most common skin condition, and it could be why your face is peeling. But there are a handful of other conditions that can cause the skin on your face to peel. By looking out for other symptoms, you may be able narrow down what’s causing your symptoms.
Here are some potential causes of peeling skin:
- Sunburns. Red, irritated, and inflamed skin that’s been damaged by the sun will flake off slowly to expose new skin underneath.
- Medications. Skin can peel as a side effect of certain medications. Blood pressure medications, penicillin, topical medications, and seizure medications can cause your skin to scale and peel off.
- Seborrheic dermatitis. While this condition typically affects the scalp, it can also develop on your face and cause scaling, itching, redness, and peeling.
- Eczema is an autoimmune condition marked by red or brown scaly patches, as well as peeling that can occur on your face.
- Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by white, scaly patches of skin that can become red and peel. Psoriasis patches can be sore and painful.
- Hypothyroidism happens when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, and it can cause fatigue, weight gain, thinning hair, and peeling skin.
- Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can cause broken blood vessels under your skin, swollen or red skin, and peeling skin on your face.
- Staph and fungal infections. These dangerous infections are accompanied by headaches, fatigue, and inflamed skin at the site of the infection.
- Allergic reaction to cosmetics or skin care products. Something you’ve applied to your face, like a new foundation or moisturizer, can clog pores and cause swelling or hives. Your skin may also dry up and shed once it’s been irritated, resulting in peeling skin on your face.
- Niacin deficiency and vitamin A toxicity are nutritional conditions that can lead to peeling skin.
- Peeling skin syndrome is a rare health condition in which patches of your skin become red and inflamed before peeling off.
If your face is peeling because of a sunburn or an allergic reaction, the peeling should stop within three to seven days. If your skin is peeling often, or if it doesn’t stop peeling after it’s been triggered by environmental exposure, you should speak with a doctor.
Call a doctor right away if you notice:
- blistering over large portions of your body
- fever or chills that occur alongside a sunburn or allergic reaction
- nausea, dizziness, or confusion that sets in around the same time your face began peeling
- skin that oozes a yellow liquid, smells foul, or cracks and does not stop bleeding
In most cases, peeling skin on your face is a temporary symptom triggered by an irritant or environmental factor.
To speed up healing, avoid covering peeling skin with makeup and don’t try to peel the skin off your face yourself, as this may cause dark spots or scarring. Within a week, peeling skin should resolve by itself.
There are times when recurring symptoms can indicate a different cause, such as a chronic skin condition or hypothyroidism. Keep an eye out for other symptoms, and speak to a doctor about recurring symptoms. If you don’t already have a dermatologist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.