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13 Reasons You Have Scaly Skin—and How to Get Rid of It

By: Dr. Wang Skincare Education Team

Feb 05, 2018

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Scaly skin due to a peeling sunburn might not seem like a good thing at the time, but it’s actually how the body gets rid of the UV-damaged cells, explains Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and chair of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee. “As a reaction to the massive UV assault, the cells commit suicide as a way to prevent those with an excessive amount of DNA mutation from propagating.” Unfortunately, this process isn’t perfect, and some of the surviving cells stick around and cause further mutations that could eventually become cancerous. Scary stat: A single blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your risk of developing potentially deadly melanoma later in life.

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