The good news is that the melanoma type of skin cancer does not cause peeling skin; the bad news is that other forms of cancer can cause peeling. This includes a type of lymphoma.
Many conditions can cause the skin to peel, and cancer – though one possible cause – is not the usual or common cause.
However, it’s not impossible for basal cell carcinoma—the most common skin cancer in the world—to cause some peeling.
“Skin cancer weakens the outer layers of skin, so the cells fall apart from each other,” says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with 30-plus years’ experience.
Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but if left untreated, will be on course for local destruction – to the point of disfigurement, as shown below.
The typical early presentation of this very slow growing tumor is a pinkish or flesh colored little bump, nodule or patch, often with a pearly center.
Another type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, is capable of causing skin to peel.
But by then, you won’t just have peeling skin; there will be other visible signs of something seriously wrong with the skin, as depicted below.
Peeling skin is far more likely to be caused by any of the following (listed in alphabetical order):
• Athlete’s foot
• Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
• Contact dermatitis
• Dry skin
• Hyperhidrosis (excess sweating)
• Jock itch
• Pemphigus (watery blisters)
• Scarlet fever
• Seborrheic dermatitis
• Side effects of medications
• Staph infections
• Toxic shock syndrome
The Other Cancer Known
to Cause Peeling Skin
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This malignancy involves the skin and can result in dryness, peeling, itching and rash.