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Peeling skin syndrome in Adult
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Peeling skin syndrome in Adult

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Contributors: Lauren Croda MD, Susan Burgin MD
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Peeling skin syndrome (PSS; also known as deciduous skin syndrome, familial continual skin peeling, and continual skin peeling syndrome) refers to a group of rare, autosomal recessively inherited disorders characterized by chronic, superficial skin peeling. PSS has been associated with a heterogeneous group of mutations in various genes involved in corneocyte structure and adhesion. A high rate of consanguinity is seen in affected families. PSS is caused by separation of the stratum corneum from the underlying stratum granulosum.

PSS often presents in infancy but can present in late childhood and occasionally adulthood. Skin loss in PSS is generally asymptomatic but is occasionally pruritic. Peeling is worsened by trauma, friction, humidity, heat, and water exposure.

PSS is divided into generalized and acral subtypes. Generalized PSS causes diffuse skin shedding that typically spares mucosal surfaces, palms, and soles. It may be noninflammatory (type A) or inflammatory (type B).
  • Noninflammatory PSS is asymptomatic and has been associated with hyperpigmentation. Mutations in the CHST8 gene, in the SERPINB8 gene, and most recently, the FLG2 gene that encodes filaggrin, have been found.
  • Inflammatory PSS can present with erythema, pruritus, and occasional flaccid vesicles. It can worsen during summer months. An association with atopy and high IgE levels may be seen. Loss of function mutations in the CDSN gene is responsible.
  • Acral PSS (APSS) is a localized disease involving the dorsal and volar surfaces of the hands and feet. Mutations in the transglutaminase 5 (TGM5) gene or the cystatin A (CSTA) gene are responsible.
For more information, see OMIM.


R23.4 – Changes in skin texture

238643009 – Skin peeling disorder

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

The differential for PSS includes other causes of superficial desquamation of the skin. The presence of systemic symptoms should point away from the diagnosis of PSS. Lab findings are within normal limits in patients with isolated PSS.

Other causes of peeling skin include:
When disease is limited to hands and feet:

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Last Reviewed: 08/15/2018
Last Updated: 08/13/2018
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Peeling skin syndrome in Adult
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Peeling skin syndrome (Acral) : Acral, Desquamation, Erythema, Hands and/or feet, Palms and soles, Symmetric extremities, Pruritus, Ichthyotic scaly plaques
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