Sloughing (pronounced "sluffing") in biology refers to the act of shedding or casting off dead tissue, such as cells of the endometrium, shed during menstruation, or the shedding of skin in amphibians.

Skin sloughing is the process of shedding dead surface cells from the skin.

In veterinary medicine, it may refer to the process where necrotic surface epithelial cells are discarded from the small intestinal mucosa following various infections which may occur within both monogastrics or ruminants.[1]

In medicine, slough may start occurring in pressure ulcers also known as decubitus ulcers or as bed sores at the stage 3, and in stage 4 levels of wound, infection, and damage.

In plants, sloughing occurs during root growth, where cells from the root cap are shed to the soil where they are biologically processed by microorganisms. Also, when a root undergoes secondary growth (transition from a primary root to a "woody" root), the cortex and epidermis become isolated from the rest of the root and are eventually sloughed.

See also

  • Desquamation- pathologic or non-pathologic skin shedding
  • Ecdysis- shedding of the skin or exoskeleton, mainly in arthropods
  • Eschar- piece(s) of necrotic tissue that are dead and cast off from the surface of the skin from wounds as part of the healing process.
  • Moulting- biological shedding of skin or integument in many animal species


  1. Dyce KM, Sack WO, Wensing CJG (2010). Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy (Fourth ed.).

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