How to Relieve Itching Skin After a Chemical Peel

Updated September 28, 2022
Young woman getting a chemical peeling

A chemical peel is a procedure performed by a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon to refine and improve the condition of facial skin. Specialized chemicals remove damaged outer layers by literally "burning" off dead skin cells and superficial layers. It can be a godsend for those experiencing problematic acne scars, stubborn blemishes, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. But some people experience an annoying itchy face after their chemical peel and this side effect can lead to concerns.

Rest assured, itching skin after a chemical peel is a normal side effect. Before undergoing the procedure it can be helpful to learn what to expect after a peel, how to minimize side effects, and how to curb your urge to scratch.

Why Is My Face Itchy After a Chemical Peel?

Chemicals used in the peel can include salicylic, alpha-hydroxy, glycolic, and trichloroacetic acids or phenol, depending on what type of chemical peel you want. Your skin care professional adjusts the formula to meet the requirements of your individual facial chemistry. You can also use this procedure in combination with a facelift if necessary. Always make sure a qualified professional performs the peel. Like any medical procedure, it involves at least some risk.

Since a chemical peel actually works as a new twist on a classic sunburn, you will find you experience some of the same symptoms as your skin heals. These symptoms often involve a persistent itching in the treated area of the skin and the urge to want to scratch as your skin flakes.

As your skin regenerates and new skin cells form, the itching sensation grows, and giving in to your desire to scratch can halt the healing process and cause complications. The amount of itching and redness you incur is based upon how deep of a penetration the chemical peel made. If you had more severe skincare issues, chances are you will itch more intensely for an extended period of time, sometimes up to two weeks.

Tips to Reduce Chemical Peel Itching

An itching sensation is normal and not a dangerous side effect. You can control your itching in a variety of ways but remember: while scratching may bring temporary relief, it also may result in wasted time, money and suffering if you do not heal correctly because of it. Instead, try the tips listed below to relieve persistent tickling under your skin and get ready to enjoy your gorgeous new look.

Antihistamines

Some people turn to over-the-counter antihistamines for relief from itching skin after a chemical peel. While some medical practices suggest using products such as Benadryl after a chemical peel, guidance in medical literature regarding antihistimine is lacking. Talk to your provider to see if this option is safe and might be effective for you.

Hand hold pack of yellow tablet blisters

Cold Compresses

You can also apply cold compresses to the affected area if you find the temptation to scratch is still there. The cold compress will soothe the skin and tone down the amount of inflammation you are experiencing.

Lotions

Ask your doctor if your type of chemical peel allows for the use of calamine lotion or aloe vera following the procedure. Many will permit this and applying the lotions will help to bring relief while delivering healthy nutrients to the skin at the same time. Opt for a natural formula rather than one full of additives and other unnecessary ingredients if you want to continue down the road of healthy, toxin-free skin after your peel.

Woman applying skin face cream

If your itching skin after a chemical peel becomes too much to bear, doctors can often recommend a topical ointment or oral prescription medication you can use to find comfort.

Avoid Irritants

It is never a good idea to wear makeup until the skin is completely healed, as this keeps your pores from breathing and causes - you guessed it - itching and irritation.

Also, give your skin as many opportunities to stay pollutant-free by dabbing your face frequently with cool water and avoiding any beauty products not directly recommended by your doctor. You'll have plenty of time to gussy up and look gorgeous for the rest of your life. Give your skin the time it needs now to heal and become itch-free.

Lastly, remember that chemical peels can be a great alternative to major plastic surgery and people are often pleased with the results. In addition, many people are able to return to work despite the dreaded itch. But it is helpful to prepare yourself for the itchy side effects of the procedure. Knowing what's in store in the weeks after your peel can help you to plan ahead and to take full advantage at this fresh start at beauty!

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How to Relieve Itching Skin After a Chemical Peel