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The Effects of Skin Peeling

By Myrna St. Romain ; Updated July 18, 2017

Chemical skin peels are a popular method for skin rejuvenation. They not only brighten the skin, but can also shrink pores. Chemical peels carry fewer risks and are not invasive like some cosmetic procedures. The treatment involves application of a chemical solution to the face so that it blisters and peels away. You can apply a superficial or mild chemical peel at home, but typically, a dermatologist will apply the medium and deep peels.


Skin redness is the most common side effect of a skin peel. The degree of severity depends on the type of peel. There are usually three types --superficial, medium and deep -- and the chemical components of each are different. A superficial peel is mild and will not cause as much redness as a medium or deep peel.


Scabs and crusting of the skin are other side effects of peels. This is caused mainly because the skin is stressed from the acid solution. This occurs mostly with deep peels. A gentle peel will cause your face to appear red and scaly for two to four days. Recover times for deeper peels may last from seven days to two weeks. To avoid an infection, medium or deep peels -- that result in burns and blisters -- should be wrapped in surgical tape.


A burning sensation is typical of most chemical peels. Regardless of the type of peel you get, a stinging feeling during the peel can be expected. It usually is not painful and goes away within a few hours after the peel is removed.


Skin peeling and flaking is a minor side effect of the chemical peel process. It usually takes a few days after the procedure to stop. It is important you do not pick at your skin because this could lead to scarring or infection. Most dermatologists will give you a topical ointment to apply to the affected area to relieve any discomfort. For deep peels, you may receive antibiotics to prevent infection.


Hyperpigmentation, or darker skin, and hypopigmentation, or lighter skin, are rare side effects of chemical peels. Often, a change in skin color is temporary, but if it remains discolored, consult your dermatologist.

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