Peeling skin, it’s probably not something you want to see when you look in a mirror but it’s something we all have to deal with. Sometimes, the peeling begins due to obvious reasons such as dry complexion, a new skincare routine, or harsh weather, but other times it takes us completely by surprise, and cracks just start to show.
However, it is perfectly normal to shed over a hundred pounds of skin in a single lifetime—no matter how gross that sounds. Board-certified dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors TV show, Sonia Batra, MD, shares the best ways to face flakiness. Here are some things you can do to maintain silky smooth skin.
St. Ives’ Apricot Scrub came into the smoothing scene in the early ‘90s and has been an icon since then. Apart from giving brighter skin, regular use of this exfoliating scrub fights off flakes to reveal soft glow. Exfoliators work as a gentle scrub that removes dead skin cells and according to Dr. Batra, the chemicals Alpha or beta hydroxy acids promote cell growth. Just make sure to limit exfoliating to once or twice a week because overdoing it can lead to irritation and even more peeling. And whatever you do, never pick flakes off with fingers or tweezers as this causes doorways for infection in the cracks.
Don’t forget to moisturize.
After exfoliating, it’s time to get hydrated. Dr. Batra advocates for the use of moisturizers. These products contain ceramides (fats) that help protect the skin remove the top layer of dead skin cells, apply moisturizer to create a barrier between your newly exposed skin and the elements.” She recommends using a product infused with ceramides which are fats that help the skin create a barrier that protects from irritants and helps to retain moisture. Coconut oil and petroleum jelly are also great alternatives.
Whenever the skin feels extra dry, carry a travel-size hydrating spray in your bag to use throughout the day.
Make sure it’s not a bigger issue
If you carefully follow a moisturizing and exfoliating regimen but it still doesn’t work then perhaps it’s time to book an appointment with a dermatologist. Flakiness caused by dehydration typically clears after a few days but if there is an underlying medical issue it’s better to not rely on home remedies as they may further irritate the skin. Dr. Batra explains: “Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can cause the skin to peel, so ask a doctor to determine if the skin can be treated using medication.” After getting a professional diagnosis, condition-specific treatments should clear up the skin in a matter of weeks.
Change up your shower routine
Unbearably cold weather tempts us to take long, hot showers to get warm throughout the sub-zero conditions. But this just worsens peeling, according to Dr. Batra, this can severely dry out the skin and cause flakiness. It’s better to use warm water instead of scalding hot.
Invest in a humidifier.
There are more uses to a humidifier than just for dry, winter months—they secretly combat the effects of year-round peeling. Like a heater, air conditioners rid the air around them of moisture, so Dr. Batra encourages the use of a humidifier when you feel dry as a means of preventing peeling. Be sure to check this list of humidifiers to see which are the best and worth buying.
Switch to fragrance-free, dye-free products.
If you’re fighting persistent flaking, consider a medicine cabinet overhaul. Dr. Batra says that colors and scents added to cleansers moisturizers, and even laundry detergents can cause irritation. She explains, “using gentle, hypoallergenic products can decrease inflammation and flaking.” A DIY yogurt is another safe option since it serves as a natural source of lactic acid that aids in the turnover of cells.
Applying plain, cold yogurt to dry skin will soften and nourish while taking away the roughness of the skin. Just wash off with warm water after ten minutes and you’ll feel like you have brand new skin.