Peeling Skin on Hands, Fingertips Causes, Treatments and Remedies

Peeling Skin on Hands, Fingertips Causes, Treatments and Remedies

What causes peeling skin on hands including peeling palms? Is such peeling a sign of HIV, infections, allergy or another condition? Never lose your mind if you have this problem since there are many possible causes.

What causes peeling palms of hand
What causes peeling palms of hand

To begin with, peeling in hands is a common problem that affects many people. The peeling can be mild or serious and it often occurs around the fingers, between them and fingertips.

Not just fingers and fingertips, it can also happen on your palms or even behind your hands. Let us look at the common causes of peeling skin on hands.

What causes hand skin to peel? Peeling palms and fingers

Why is skin near my fingernails peeling or why are my fingers peeling all of a sudden?

The basic reason why skin peels is dryness where a number of things will trigger or lead to drying skin which include cold weather, hot water or heat, extreme atmospheric temperatures, exposure to sun, skin irritants and conditions like eczema among other factors.

Therefore, if you do not moisturize or treat the underlining dryness effects, cracking and bleeding in skin will occur especially around the fingernails’ cuticles. While looking at the causes, we have included pictures of similar cases to help in familiarizing with the specific causes.

Acral peeling skin syndrome (APSS)

This is a peeling skin syndrome or skin disorder in which the top skin layer peels off. The peeling mostly occurs in hand and feet skin hence the word acral. The peeling is typically painless but rubbing, increase in heat, moisture or humidity can make the peeling worse.

APPS can also affect the arms and legs and children are often at a higher risk of this disorder because it can begin at childhood due to its tendency to be hereditary. However, it may affect individuals later in childhood.

Symptoms of this disorder are mild but if it is not properly diagnosed it might be sometimes mistaken for other health problems. In fact, acral peeling skin syndrome is not associated with any other health problems according to the U.S National Library of Medicine.

APSS is majorly due to gene mutations occurring in autosomal genes (the TGM5 gene). TGM5 is responsible for synthesis of a protein known to be a crucial component of the top skin layer. This mutations therefore reduce or cause a shortage of transglutaminase 5 hence causing a weakened barrier between the cornified (top skin layer) and the layers beneath.

As we have stated, this condition is inherited from either parent who are carriers. However, this does not implies that if both parents are carriers, all children they will bear will be affected. This is because APSS exhibits a recessive pattern of inheritance.

Infections – fungal, Kawasaki disease and jock itch

If you get a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot, the yeast can also spread to the hands and especially round the fingernails including the nails themselves. The fungus responsible for this infection is usually referred to in regard to location. As such, we have tinea (feet), (tinea pedis or tinea unguium).

Common symptoms are itching for both the toes and fingertips or round the finger nails. Infections also account for peeling nails and defects in nails.

Secondly, we have Kawasaki disease. This infection is common among children. The symptoms usually appear in a three-phase course. Various body organs are affected – lymph nodes, the skin, eye whites, lips, mouths, tongue and throat – especially during Phase I.

Finger and toe peeling is attributed to Kawasaki in the second Phase where the following additional symptoms are noticeable in the 2nd to 4th week of infection.

  • Yellowing in skin
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain, painful joints/swelling
  • Headache and feeling weak in body

According to NHS Choices, it is during the second phase where your child is likely to develop complications.

Another infection is jock itch.

Side effects of certain treatments

Our bodies may respond differently to certain medications. While some patients may experience peeling others have complained of rashes, itching, swelling, discoloration, formation of spots, et cetera.

Examples of medications linked with peeling after using include sulfa drugs, diuretics, aspirin just to mention a few. Patients who have had chemotherapy treatments have reported cases of skin peeling.

According to Healthline, some drugs may cause massive exfoliation of skin (exfoliative dermatitis) due to adverse reaction produced. Such comprise the following.

  • Barbituates
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin) and other Seizure Medications
  • Isoniazid
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Topical Medications (Medications Put On The Skin)

It should be noted that these side effects could be specific and to some individuals only.

Sunburn or “sun allergy” can cause peeling skin on hands

Exposure to sun for longer durations or sunbathing usually results to sunburn. The extent to which the peeling occurs depends on how badly the skin gets damaged. Skin peeling is one of the second degree symptoms of sunburn. Extreme sunburn will also cause blistering which may be accompanied with other signs including vomiting, fever, etc.

Dyshidrosis also Keratolysis exfoliativa

Going on with causes of peeling of palms Keratolysis exfoliativa is another skin condition, which is, associated with peeling skin on hands especially palms. The initial signs of this condition is usually marked by ‘air-filled’ blisters either on fingers or on palms. Refer to the pictures below.

Peeling palms due to exfoliative keratosis - courtesy of Dennetnz
Peeling palms due to exfoliative keratosis – courtesy of Dennetnz

Although the causes are yet to be known, there is no genetic defects associated with Keratolysis exfoliativa. If you expose your hands to external factors such as irritants the peeling can be extended. The condition normally recurs in a few weeks after peeling seems to have stopped.

There may be no specific cure for this condition. However, application of ureic-based creams or lactic acid can improve its symptoms. Sometimes the condition can get better on its own where newer skin cells replace the peelings naturally.

NOTE: In some cases, dyshidrosis can cause bleeding if it develops to the extremes. Similar terminology used in describing it are pompholyx and dyshidrotic eczema.

Hand eczema (atopic eczema) – itchy, cracking and painful

If your hands are very itchy and painful, cracking, with dryness and blistering, high chances are you could be suffering from eczema.

Hand eczema is a common condition whose prevalence counts up to 10 percent of the world population. Like other types dermatitis or eczema, this condition can also cause itching and redness on back of hands, fingers and fingertips. Atopic eczema can also affect both hands and feet skin.

One distinguishing characteristic of hand eczema is tearing. This happens when the symptoms have gone chronic and it is often due to excessive contact with triggers such as water, irritants, allergens, etc. all of which result to increased inflammation.

hand eczema can cause flaky dry skin peeling
hand eczema can cause flaky dry skin peeling

Eczema on the back of hands can cause peeling skin on hands
Eczema on the back of hands can cause peeling skin on hands

Generally, hand eczema should not be confused with Keratolysis exfoliativa since both may appear to produce similar symptoms particularly with a higher degree of severity. The differences may not be clear unless an evaluative diagnosis is done and specific treatments administered.

Allergens

Why are my fingers peeling all of a sudden? If you did guess, certain allergens can produce reactions in skin where a rash is most likely to occur on skin including the skin around fingers or on fingertips.

Bearing in mind that your hands are more often involved in touching, allergic reactions can easily result if your skin is sensitive to things like fabrics, latex, cosmetics and certain foods. This can be a common reasons for  the skin on your hands peeling after over washing.

Skin peeling on palms
Skin peeling on palms

Vitamin deficiency

The appearance or sudden changes in eyes, skin, tongue, and fingernails communicate a lot about your vitamin status in your body.

Now, “severe deficiency of Vitamin B3 and niacin can result in peeling skin as the skin on the body dries.” [yogawiz.com]. That is to say, peels of skin off your hands due to a vitamin deficiency can be due to Biotin or vitamin B-7, Niacin or vitamin B3 (in severe deficiencies).

In general, under severe conditions, deficiency of any vital body vitamin that leads to dryness in skin, will eventually cause peeling and sometimes flaking.

Vitamin overdose or toxicity

‘Too much of something is never a good thing.’ Vitamin sufficiency is key to healthy living. However, we should control the amount of vitamin we take in.

According to Healthline.com, an overdose or too much vitamins A in body can lead to a toxicity known as hypervitaminosis A. Major causes of the toxicity are directly linked to high doses of vitamin alternative food supplements, megavitamin therapy and long-term use of some vitamin-rich acne treatments.

Do you want to know the symptoms of Hypervitaminosis A? Chronic Hypervitaminosis A can lead to cracking skin at corner of mouth, dry and rough palms or skin. Besides palmar peeling other symptoms and signs of toxicity of vitamin A are:

Coarse hair, hair loss, nausea and vomiting, increased pressure on the brain, (irritability – excited response or excessive sensitivity to stimuli), drowsiness, etc.

Hypervitaminosis A or call it vitamin overdose can occur in anyone – young babies, children as well as adults.

Other causes of peeling skin on hands and fingers include the following:

  1. Injuries or skin damage due to hot objects and fluids such as water, cooking oil, etc.
  2. Chemical burns
  3. Excessive hand washing
  4. Overusing the nails and for wrong purpose,
  5. Bacterial or viral infections that cause or lead to skin irritation

Dry flaky peeling skin on hands

Why do I have dry peeling skin on hands that are also flaking? If your hands are dry and have started to peel off that, may occur due to a number of factors we have seen such eczema, sunburn, and extreme cold weather.

However, conditions such as psoriasis on hands can lead to formation of flakes or scale-like things besides peeling. Palmar cracking, blistering and swelling of the fingers would also result. Psoriasis can lower your quality of life.

Note unlike dermatitis, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that commonly affects elbows, knees and the scalp but can occur in any other area of the body.

Hand skin peeling in children causes

Peeling skin on hands is a problem that can affect anyone. In children the following are some common reasons for skin peeling from hands (incl. fingertips and around fingernails).

  • Kawasaki disease,
  • Allergic reactions especially contact dermatitis,
  • Fungal infections,
  • Hand eczema,
  • Finger sucking,
  • Hypervitaminosis A or vitamin toxicity,

Peeling feet and hands

Peeling skin around finger nails
Peeling skin around finger nails

What is common between peeling hands and feet? The following are common conditions, diseases or factors common for skin peeling on hands and feet.

1.  Keratolysis exfoliativa

Keratolysis exfoliativa or pomholyx or dyshidrotic eczema is characteristic of dry and cracking skin on palms and soles. Peeling occurs as one is healing. The good news is that the condition is not contagious.

2. Athlete’s foot and jock itch

Athlete’s foot primarily affects the toes (on feet) but will spread to the hands through contact and touching during treatment or when one is itching. Jock itch does not only lead to peeling fingertips but also other areas affected.

3.  Acral peeling skin syndrome (APSS)

This syndrome is also characteristic of skin peeling where both the feet and hands are also affected. The term acral is used when the peeling is localized to areas such as the feet and hands.

Hand skin peeling treatment

What can I use to treat hand peeling? Do I need any treatment for my peeling fingers and palms? Do not ignore this problem since it can worsen and it always makes your hands not to look awesome.  Some of the ways to managed peeling skin on hands include:

Minor exfoliation

Exfoliation involves a wide range techniques of eradicating dead skin together with the cells. Before exfoliating there are certain things to consider. What should you think of prior to doing hand exfoliation to deal with skin peeling?

  1. Causes of skin peeling on hands – is it sunburn, skin disease or conditions?
  2. Symptoms that accompany peeling for instance blistering
  3. The technique employed or the products used in exfoliation

If the symptoms cause a lot of damage to skin you need to see your doctor. Unless peeling occurs extensively, minor exfoliation can elevate and improve life.

Common products used are emollient hand creams available over the counter such as urea, lactic acid or those lotions that are manufactures using Silicone.

Antifungal medicines

Antifungal medicines can be effective in controlling growth of fungi causing skin infections and problems. After a proper diagnosis and/blood tests, your doctor may prescribe either oral antifungal pills or tablets or fluid if creams do not work.

Not that getting rid of general skin peeling caused by fungal infection in people with a weakened immune system becomes quite difficult. This is where diabetic and those with HIV aids among other chronic problem may have a real challenge managing fungal infections.

Photo-chemotherapy

Photo chemotherapy is an optional cure if you have skin problem like peeling. As a treatment for a variety of skin conditions (psoriasis, dermatitis, Vitiligo etc.), photo chemotherapy is a type of therapy, which utilizes radiation, and some form of naturally occurring compounds known as Psoralens. For peeling in skin purpose, there is the application of Psoralens then followed by a localized phototherapy.

Prior to treatment, patients need to undergo an evaluative examination. It is also highly recommended that patients have appointments in order to discuss and know the essentials and all they are supposed to do, follow or avoid before treatment. Even though, this treatment come with side effects especially if it is done on the whole of body or if treatment is extensive.

Hand eczema treatment

Treating hand eczema and making sure it clears is difficult and complex. Dermatologists treat it using certain principles and concepts comprising skin care, protection from triggers and other treatments including topical solutions and therapy.

If the symptoms are severe, systemic form or forms of treatment are necessary sometimes. However, this depend on the specific trigger factors.

Oatmeal soak remedy

Are your fingertips peeling? Prepare your mixture using powder oat. Try soaking then in warm colloidal mixture of water and oats for at least 10 minutes. Wash thereafter and apply your favourite fragrant-free, non-irritant moisturizer.

Remedies for skin peeling hands and fingers & DOs & DON’Ts

In addition to the treatments above, these remedies are meant to help anyone who has this hand problem. However, we emphasize the need to know and understand the cause for your case.

  • Protect your hands from irritants such as soap, detergents and solvents by use of waterproof hand gloves.
  • Wear appropriate clothing particularly for people who live in areas with warm weather.
  • Avoid cutting or removing the cuticles as this may expose your fingers to infections and cause drying out.
  • Moisturize your hands using fragrant-free lotions of your choice. If you want to have a better experience wear cotton hand muffs during or while asleep.
  • Soak in warm water especially if your fingertips peel often due to reasons other than infections, hand eczema, side effects form medications, etc. you can also do soaking after hand eczema has cleared.
  • Avoid sucking or putting your fingers in mouth now and then
  • User of Vinyl gloves or cotton gloves when handling damp or wetness to avoid the triggers from making a direct contact.
Suggested Reading
Reference
  1. Acral peeling skin syndrome, U.S NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE, October 11, 2016, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/acral-peeling-skin-syndrome#sourcesforpage
  2. Exfoliative keratosis, Dr. Amanda Oakley, http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/exfoliative-keratolysis/
  3. Peeling Skin on Fingers, http://www.enkivillage.com/peeling-skin-on-fingers.html
  4. Hand Eczema, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_eczema, 28 May 2016, accessed 16 Oct 2016.
  5. Kawasaki Disease Symptoms, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Kawasaki-disease/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
  6. Hypervitaminosis A, Ann Pietrangelo, http://www.healthline.com/health/hypervitaminosis-a#Overview1
  7. http://www.pcds.org.uk/clinical-guidance/peeling-skin-syndromes1
 
 

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