Why Is My Newborn’s Skin Peeling?
A baby’s skin starts to peel off at birth due to the normal shedding of dead cells and the growth of new ones. These shed cells are mainly keratinocytes (skin cells) and melanin pigment producing cells (melanocytes). Keratinocytes produce the outer layer of our skin, while melanocytes produce the innermost layers. Melanin pigments are responsible for giving us our color. When these cells die, they release their contents into the surrounding area. This is called the exudate or dead skin cells. The dead skin cells are shed from the surface of your body, but not from inside your body. They fall out through tears in your eyes, nose bleed or other wounds. The dead skin cells will continue to shed until the skin is completely gone.
The Exudate Shedding Process:
Exudates are shed from the skin when it gets irritated, such as during diaper changes or even after eating something spicy. During this time, the blood vessels in your skin become clogged with dead cells.
If you have ever had a cut or scrape on your hand, you may remember that bleeding occurs along with the exudate being released. This is because the blood vessels near the surface of the skin are also exudates. The blood in your body, on the other hand, is a different story.
Blood and Skin Don’t Mingle:
The blood doesn’t sit on the surface of your body. It is normally pushed through your body by your heart.
In order for it to exit your body, it needs to be pumped out. The skin, on the other hand, is sitting right there on the surface and is ready to release its contents at a moment’s notice. When the blood vessels in your skin get irritated it causes them to swell up. As they swell, they are no longer able to push blood through them. They will stay this way until the irritation causing them to swell goes away. This can be compared to kinking a hose.
So What’s New?
There are many things that can cause your skin to shed and bleed. This is a normal process that happens every day. Even when you are not actively shedding or bleeding, the dead skin cells are still releasing their contents throughout your body.
Does Everyone Shed?
Everyone sheds. It is a necessary process that happens everyday. In fact, you shed dead skin cells even before you are born. It is one of the ways that your body can remove waste and other unnecessary materials from itself. Almost everyone has experienced skin shedding at one time or another. Common occurrences that cause skin to shed are being in water, intense heat or cold, scratching, rubbing, and even pulling your hair.
How Long Does Skin Shedding Last?
The amount of time that your skin stays shedding dead skin cells can be up to several weeks. The entire process can be finished in as few as three days or three weeks if you have severely dry skin. If you are experiencing skin shedding due to dryness, try using a lotion with aloe in it. This will help to ease the dryness, and may even reduce the amount of time that your skin takes to shed.
What Does a Normal Skin Shed Look Like?
Your skin is full of dead skin cells, so what does a normal skin shed look like?
It looks like tiny white flakes similar to dandruff. It should come off easily with you rubbing your hand over the irritated area. When a lot of skin cells are shedding at once, they can appear as a light dusting over the irritated area. While some people will have no reaction to this, other people can get itchy or may even break out in hives. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
What is Peeling Skin?
Peeling skin is a more severe form of skin shedding. It happens when large sections of skin are ready to shed all at once and are not released gradually. Peeling skin can occur after you have been in water for too long, or if you are overheating and your body is trying to cool itself off. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction to sunlight, and sometimes even due to cold weather.
Is It a Problem If I Skin Is Peeling?
The process of shedding dead skin and growth just keeps going, so after the large sections of skin come off, you should notice your skin start to return to normal. If, however, you see a dark spot on the area that is peeling, contact your doctor immediately. It could be a melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer that can begin as a dark mole or spot on the skin.
What Skin Conditions Can Cause Peeling?
There are many reasons that can cause your skin to shed and bleed, but the most common reason is dry skin. This can happen on any part of the body, and may be caused by external influences such as a dryer or heater, or internal influences such as poor diet. Anything from poor hygiene to side effects of medication can also cause skin drying. Other common causes of skin shedding are:
Other Skin Conditions
All of these conditions can be diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist, so if you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of one of them, contact your doctor immediately.
How Can I Best Prevent Peeling Skin?
Keeping your body hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent your skin from drying out. This means drinking plenty of water every day, but it can also mean taking steps to avoid the external factors that dry out your skin. Good hygiene and staying away from allergens can also help you to keep your skin hydrated and shedding dead skin cells as it should. If your skin does start to shed excessively, it may help to apply a lotion or cream with aloe Vera to the area.
Does Peeling Skin Ever Mean Anything Serious?
In most cases, skin shedding and peeling is a sign that your skin is doing what it needs to in order to stay healthy. However, as discussed earlier, it can be a sign of a more serious condition such as an allergic reaction or infection. If you notice any dark spots on the skin that is peeling, contact a doctor immediately. It could be a type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma.
What Should I Do If My Peeling Skin Is Allergic?
Allergies can develop to anything, so if you think your dry and peeling skin is caused by an allergic reaction, there are some things you can do. First of all, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. After that, you may be advised to take medication for the allergies or change your diet. In extreme cases, you may need injections on anti-allergy drugs.
If you find that your skin is peeling and you are experiencing other symptoms such as nausea or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
Does Everyone Experience Peeling Skin At One Time Or Another?
While some people experience excessive shedding and peeling skin year-round, it can be brought on by seasonal changes as well. If you tend to have dry skin in the winter and your skin starts to shed excessively, there is no need to worry. This is a perfectly normal reaction to cold, dry air in the winter.
Conversely, if you have oily skin and begin to experience dryness and flaking, this can also be chalked up to seasonal changes. As summer heat kicks in and air conditioning is on full-blast, your body may not be able to stay as hydrated as it did in the winter.
This causes your skin to start shedding excessively and can lead to symptoms of dry skin or dermatitis.
Questions About Peeling and Dry Skin?
If you have any questions about peeling and dry skin, please contact us here at Skin Hospital International. Our expert dermatologists would be happy to answer your questions and discuss the best way to treat your condition.
Sources & references used in this article:
Back to basics: caring for the newborn’s skin by AK Mendenhall, LF Eichenfield – Contemporary pediatrics, 2000 – go.gale.com
Clinical See All by AK Mendenhall, LF Eichenfield – contemporarypediatrics.com
An 18-month-old girl with chronic diaper dermatitis by M Greco, SL Chamlin – Pediatric annals, 2006 – healio.com
A Newborn Infant with Giant Omphalocele and Peeling Skin by SC Handley, RP Ebbert, TM Edwards, J Flibotte – NeoReviews, 2017 – Am Acad Pediatrics
A newborn with peeling skin: this baby’s cellophane-like skin and the mother’s obstetric history left little doubt of the diagnosis by TA Zeller, DJ Karel – Journal of Family Practice, 2009 – go.gale.com
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Peeling off the genetics of atopic dermatitis–like congenital disorders by L Samuelov, E Sprecher – Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 2014 – Elsevier
Management of the pregnant diabetic by JH Peel – British medical journal, 1955 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov