We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is Degloving?

By T. Carrier
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Degloving occurs when a portion of a living organism’s skin is separated from body tissue underneath. It is one form of avulsion, or body part detachment. This process cuts off blood supply to the affected skin, typically rendering the skin dead. The term derives from the visual produced by latex glove removal, which creates a similar effect.

Human degloving typically results from severe skin injuries. Such damage may result from a manufacturing accident where an individual is operating machinery. A car accident in which an individual is forcefully injured by a car or other high-velocity vehicle could also cause a related effect. In ancient times, degloving was occasionally used as a form of killing or torture, as in scalping.

In a skin avulsion, nerves, blood vessels, and occasionally muscles are stripped away. The injuries may often reach to the bones. These effects do not always completely remove skin, however. In a closed degloving incident, the skin remains slightly attached to underlying structures, but it will feel loose due to its partial detachment. The skin may, therefore, become blackened or discolored because of a lack of blood supply.

When degloving pertains to humans, the arms, legs, hands, or feet are usually affected. The extremities are less vulnerable to serious complications. Due to the number of vital organs and prominent blood vessels in the torso and head area, major body skin injuries to this area would probably result in death.

Although it frequently occurs because of a devastating accident, degloving may also be intentional and beneficial. Controlled degloving is a technique utilized in facial plastic surgery or dentistry. One common procedure involves exposing the tissues at the front of the jaw by surgically removing the skin barrier. Plastic surgeons or dentists work within or around the mouth area to accomplish this task.

Animals may benefit from skin detachment as well. Some wild creatures, for example, possess a natural mechanism wherein the skin on their tails can separate from their bodies. A feature like this would be useful if the animal has been captured by a larger predator or a man-made trap. Although the process can be lifesaving for some animals, many others—particularly domesticated animals—experience the same harmful effects as humans. Small rodents such as pet gerbils and rabbits are particularly prone to harmful skin separation injuries.

In both humans and animals, degloving treatment varies by the severity of the injury. Prevention of major blood loss is vital, as are antibiotics to block infection. Medically reapplying skin coverings through a skin graft is also an option for some incidents. In extreme cases, amputation—or surgical removal of the impacted limb or appendage—may be needed.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.