What causes shedding of skin and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Have you ever noticed that your skin sheds? It may seem like an odd phenomenon, but skin shedding is actually a natural and necessary process for our bodies. In this article, we will explore what causes skin shedding, how it is related to exfoliation and skin renewal, and how you can treat it to maintain healthy and rejuvenated skin.

The Skin Exfoliating Process

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. It is an essential part of the skin renewal cycle, which allows for the growth of new, healthy skin cells. The skin exfoliating process involves the shedding of the outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum.

During the skin cell shedding process, old and dead skin cells are sloughed off, making way for the new cells underneath. This shedding of the outer skin layer is a continuous process that occurs naturally, but sometimes it can become more noticeable or problematic.

Causes of Skin Shedding

There are several factors that can contribute to increased skin shedding:

  • Environmental factors: Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as extreme cold or dryness, can cause the skin to become dry and flaky, leading to increased shedding.
  • Age: As we age, our skin cell turnover slows down, resulting in a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface. This can make the shedding process more noticeable.
  • Skin conditions: Certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, can disrupt the normal skin renewal cycle and cause excessive shedding.
  • Chemical exfoliation: The use of certain skincare products or treatments that promote exfoliation, such as alpha hydroxy acids or retinoids, can accelerate the shedding process.

Treating Skin Shedding

If you are experiencing excessive or bothersome skin shedding, there are several steps you can take to treat it:

1. Moisturize Regularly

Keeping your skin well-hydrated is crucial for maintaining its health and preventing excessive shedding. Use a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type and apply it daily, especially after showering or bathing.

2. Avoid Harsh Products

Avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers that can strip away the natural oils of your skin. Opt for gentle, pH-balanced products that will cleanse your skin without causing further dryness or irritation.

3. Protect Your Skin

Protect your skin from extreme weather conditions by wearing appropriate clothing and using sunscreen. Sunburns and windburns can exacerbate skin shedding, so it is important to shield your skin from these elements.

4. Use Exfoliating Products

While it may seem counterintuitive, using exfoliating products can actually help regulate the shedding process. Look for gentle exfoliants that contain ingredients like salicylic acid or fruit enzymes, which can help remove dead skin cells without causing irritation.

5. Seek Medical Advice

If your skin shedding is accompanied by other symptoms, such as severe itching or inflammation, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist. They can evaluate your condition and provide appropriate treatment options, such as topical medications or light therapy.


Skin shedding is a natural process that allows for the renewal and regeneration of skin cells. While it is a normal part of the skin exfoliating process, excessive or problematic shedding can be treated and managed. By following a proper skincare routine, moisturizing regularly, and protecting your skin from harsh environmental factors, you can maintain healthy and rejuvenated skin. If you have concerns about your skin shedding, it is always best to seek professional advice from a dermatologist.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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