Peeling hands: Causes, treatments, and more (2023)

People use their hands extensively and expose them to sun, water, irritants, and allergens. This can result in the skin becoming damaged and peeling.

For some, the skin can peel as a result of dry skin. It can peel as a result of some skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, which can be uncomfortable and interfere with a person’s daily life.

The treatment for peeling hands varies depending on the cause but often involves moisturizing creams or ointments to hydrate dry skin. Some cases may require prescription medications that help heal any underlying causes.

This article looks at peeling hands and the potential environmental and medical causes. It also discusses when a person should contact a doctor, and how to prevent peeling hands.

While hand-washing is an excellent practice for good hygiene, the skin on the hands may peel if an individual washes their hands too often.

Additionally, if someone uses harsh soaps, excessively hot water, and does not moisturize after washing, they may develop skin problems on their hands.

Although hand-washing effectively disinfects the hands, it also removes the natural oils that keep the skin healthy and moisturized.

Another practice that may dry out the hands and cause them to peel is using too much hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer has an alcohol-based formula that causes the skin to become dry.

Treatment

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests the following routine to help prevent and treat dry hands due to hand-washing:

  1. Wash the hands for at least 20 seconds using lukewarm water and soap.
  2. Dry the hands with a clean towel, leaving some water on them.
  3. While the skin is damp, apply moisturizing cream or ointment onto the skin, ensuring that it reachers the fingertips and nails.

Dermatologists recommend using creams that are fragrance and dye-free, and that contain petrolatum or mineral oil.

If a person uses hand sanitizer, a person should apply the cream or ointment as soon as the hand sanitizer has dried.

The climate can affect the skin on the hands. For example, during the winter, the humidity in the air is lower, which can cause the skin on the palms to dry out, crack, and peel.

Some individuals may find that if their hands sweat during hot weather it can lead to irritation and peeling.

Treatment

To help provide relief for dry skin, a person can:

  • apply moisturizer after bathing or showering
  • avoid soaps that contain fragrances or alcohol
  • apply hand cream after every hand wash
  • apply petroleum jelly on the hands before bedtime
(Video) What causes skin peeling from fingers and feet? How to manage? - Dr. Rasya Dixit

Staying in the sun for too long can cause sunburn. This can affect any part of the body that is exposed to the sun, including the hands.

As sunburn heals, the skin may peel. The peeling happens as the body sheds the damaged skin and creates a new top layer.

Treatment

To treat sunburn, a person can:

  • take frequent, cool baths and showers to ease the pain
  • apply moisturizers that contain soy or aloe vera to the skin, especially after showering, to ease dryness
  • drink additional water
  • cover the burned areas of skin while they are healing to prevent further sun damage
  • use a mild topical cortisone cream to help calm inflammation on the skin

Hand dermatitis is also called hand eczema. It accounts for 20% to 35% of all dermatitis forms.

According to the National Eczema Association, hand eczema can occur as a result of genetics, irritants, and allergens.

Eczema symptoms include:

  • itching
  • dry and sensitive skin
  • inflamed and discolored skin
  • rough patches of skin
  • oozing or crusting
  • areas of swelling

Learn more about hand eczema here.

(Video) Skin Peeling on hands & feet - Causes & Treatment Dr. Rajdeep Mysore

Atopic hand dermatitis

This type of eczema occurs when the skin barrier function is impaired. It normally triggers due to contact with irritants. It typically presents as vesicular or discoid patterns.

Vesicular eczema presents as itchy patches of skin-colored blisters. It often results from sweating.

Discoid eczema presents as scattered and well-defined plaques. It can result from dry skin, scratches, and contact dermatitis.

Irritant and contact dermatitis

When an irritant or allergen comes into contact with the body, the immune system turns on and produces inflammation, causing the symptoms of eczema.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition that occurs when an allergen touches the skin. Some common causes of allergic contact dermatitis include poison ivy, nickel, and rubber gloves.

Allergic contact dermatitis appears as redness, swelling, and blisters. If the blisters break, they may harden, and then the skin may peel.

Some people may have sensitivities to fragrances found in personal hygiene products such as soaps, moisturizers, shampoos, and conditioners.

Exposure to these chemicals may cause the skin on their hands to peel.

Harsh chemicals in cleaning supplies may also cause the skin to peel after exposure. It is always best practice to use rubber gloves to avoid skin contact with any chemicals.

Treatment

Treatment for eczema includes:

  • reducing contact with irritants, including water
  • using soap-free cleanser when washing hands
  • applying emollient creams and reapplying them after hand-washing

Medications to treat eczema include topical steroids.

Psoriasis is a condition that occurs as the result of an overactive immune system. It leads to inflammation of the skin. The inflammation can appear as raised plaques or scales on the skin.

When psoriasis appears on the hands or soles of the feet, healthcare professionals refer to this as palmoplantar psoriasis.

A person with psoriasis on the hands may experience dry and thickened skin with painful cracks.

It can appear similar to hand dermatitis.

(Video) Causes Of Peeling Palms and Its Natural Home Treatments - Dr. Amee Daxini

Learn more about psoriasis on the hands here.

Treatment

A person can treat mild cases using topical treatments, including:

  • emollients
  • coal tar
  • topical steroids

Certain infections may cause the hands to peel.

One example is tinea manuum, a fungal infection that often starts on the palms and may spread to the backs of the hands and fingertips. It causes rash-like sores, which can peel.

A person with tinea manuum may develop skin on the hands that is:

  • thickened
  • itchy
  • dry
  • scaly

Learn more about tinea manuum here.

Treatment

Treatment includes topical antifungals.

APSS is a very rare skin disorder where the top layer of the skin peels off painlessly. In most cases, this condition happens to the hands and feet, but it can also affect the arms and legs.

The peeling usually begins from birth. However, the condition can become evident during a person’s childhood or later in life.

Exposure to heat and humidity worsens this condition.

Learn more about acral peeling skin syndrome here.

Treatment

There is no cure for APSS. However, a person can apply skin-softening ointments, such as petroleum jelly, to help manage the symptoms.

(Video) Ways to manage peeling of skin from hands - Dr. Sudheendra Udbalker

A person can treat many causes of peeling hands at home using moisturizers.

People should visit a doctor if their peeling hands do not improve despite regular moisturizing treatments and other home treatments. They should also contact a doctor if their skin becomes infected.

A person can help prevent some causes of peeling hands. Moisturizing the skin on the hands and staying well hydrated can help prevent dry skin and treat other causes of peeling skin.

Using gloves when working with chemicals helps prevent any adverse reactions from them touching the skin.

Anyone with known allergies to fragrances should avoid products containing these chemicals to reduce the possibility of any reactions, such as skin peeling.

Some environmental causes of peeling hands include the sun, dry air, cold weather, and excessive hand-washing. Some medical causes of peeling hands include allergies, eczema, psoriasis, infections, or acral peeling skin syndrome.

The best way to prevent the skin on the hands from peeling is to moisturize the skin and drink plenty of water. Other preventative measures include using gloves when working with chemicals and avoiding fragrances that cause allergic reactions or eczema flare-ups.

People should always contact a doctor if they have any signs of infected skin.

FAQs

What are the treatment of the peeling of hands? ›

The treatment for peeling hands varies depending on the cause but often involves moisturizing creams or ointments to hydrate dry skin. Some cases may require prescription medications that help heal any underlying causes.

Why are my hands peeling? ›

Peeling skin happens when your body sheds some of your skin's outer layer called the epidermis. The peeling or flaking process is your skin's way of recovering or healing from some type of damage. The damage may be from environmental elements, skin conditions, allergies, infections or certain diseases and treatments.

What disease makes your hands peel? ›

Acral peeling skin syndrome is a skin disorder characterized by painless peeling of the top layer of skin. The term "acral" refers to the fact that the skin peeling in this condition is most apparent on the hands and feet.

Which vitamin deficiency causes skin peeling on hands? ›

A lack of Vitamin B3 or an excess of vitamin A can lead to peeling hands. In case of vitamin deficiency, you should supplement with green vegetables, fruits and other foods.

How can I treat peeling skin at home? ›

Now, let's discuss how you can do chemical peeling at home.
  1. Step 1: Clean Your Face. ...
  2. Step 2: Protect The Sensitive Parts. ...
  3. Step 3: Apple The Chemical Peeling Solution. ...
  4. Step 4: Leave It On For The Time Recommended By The Manufacturer. ...
  5. Step 5: Remove The Peel.
18 Aug 2022

What infections cause skin peeling? ›

  • Athlete's foot.
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Contact dermatitis.
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
  • Dry skin.
  • Hyperhidrosis.
  • Jock itch.
  • Kawasaki disease.

Is hand peeling normal? ›

Skin peeling on the fingertips is not uncommon, as most instances of peeling skin occur on the hands, feet, or lips. While skin peeling is usually not a cause for serious concern, it can be associated with several medical conditions, so a prompt diagnosis is important.

What medications can cause peeling skin on hands? ›

Medications that cause dry skin
  • Diuretics. “Diuretics can definitely dry your skin,” says Robin Evans, MD, a dermatologist in Stamford, Connecticut. ...
  • Statins. “A popular type of high cholesterol medicine called a statin can cause skin changes including dry skin,” says Nonye Uddoh, Pharm. ...
  • Antihistamines. ...
  • Acne medication.
8 Jan 2020

How do you get rid of peeling skin? ›

How to Get Rid of Peeling Skin
  1. Pat Skin Dry After Bathing. ...
  2. Stay Hydrated. ...
  3. Apply Moisturizer. ...
  4. Use a Gentle Exfoliant Occasionally. ...
  5. Add a Humidifier. ...
  6. Protect Skin From the Sun.

What is peeling skin a symptom of? ›

Peeling skin may occur because of direct damage to the skin, such as from sunburn or infection. It may also be a sign of an immune system disorder or other disease. Rash, itching, dryness and other irritating skin problems may accompany peeling skin.

Can stress cause skin peeling on hands? ›

Can stress cause peeling skin on my hands? “Any inflammatory dermatitis, such as eczema, can certainly be triggered or exacerbated by stress,” Dr. Hicks-Graham says.

How do you fix peeling fingers? ›

Your doctor might tell you to do these things every day:
  1. Wash your hands with lukewarm water and fragrance-free soap.
  2. Dry your hands well every time they get wet.
  3. Use moisturizer with a high oil content after you wash your hands.
  4. Use petroleum jelly and wear cotton gloves at night.
28 Jul 2021

Which vitamin is good for hand skin? ›

Research has shown that taking certain vitamins and other nutritional supplements, including vitamin D, fish oil, collagen, and vitamin C, may help improve skin hydration and help keep your skin healthy and nourished.

Does lack of vitamin D cause skin peeling? ›

If you're lacking in vitamin D, your skin may tell on you. For example, if you're not getting enough vitamin D, your complexion might be dull, lacking that desired glow and you might also experience dry, flaky skin on your face and other areas of your body.

What vitamins help with peeling skin? ›

Peeling and Flaky Skin

If the skin on your fingertips is suddenly flaky, you may have a vitamin B deficiency. B vitamins such as niacin (B3) and biotin (vitamin B7) are extra important for healthy skin, says Bank.

Does honey help peeling skin? ›

Honey is naturally soothing and has healing properties (it is often used to help heal wounds). It also nourishes damaged skin to fade scars like those pesky acne scars. The enzymes work as a gentle exfoliator, sloughing off dead skin cells and leaving you with a radiant complexion.

Is skin peeling treatment good? ›

Chemical peels can reduce or improve fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scars, uneven skin coloring and other skin imperfections. Different chemicals determine the depth of your peel and type of skin condition treated.

What home remedy can I use for peeling skin overnight? ›

Home remedies for peeling skin on the face
  1. Moisturizer.
  2. Cleanser.
  3. Avoid certain products.
  4. Dry gently.
  5. Lukewarm showers.
  6. Aloe vera.
  7. Drink water.
  8. Humidifier.
25 Sept 2019

What is peeling skin called? ›

Desquamation, commonly called skin peeling, is the shedding of the outermost membrane or layer of a tissue, such as the skin.

What causes peeling skin on hands and feet? ›

Some of the most common causes include athlete's foot, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, and hyperhidrosis. In most cases, using OTC medications can help treat the peeling on your feet. However, if the peeling doesn't improve, or you have other concerning symptoms, be sure to see your doctor.

Can diabetes cause dry skin? ›

If you have diabetes, you're more likely to have dry skin. High blood sugar (glucose) can cause this. If you have a skin infection or poor circulation, these could also contribute to dry, itchy skin.

How long does it take for peeling to stop? ›

Once peeling starts, it can last for several days. In general, peeling will stop when the skin is fully healed. For a mild to moderate burn, that should be within seven days, but small amounts of peeling can occur for several weeks. Drink plenty of water to help your skin heal more quickly.

What is hand eczema? ›

Hand eczema is one of the most common types of eczema (also referred to as 'dermatitis'). It mainly affects the palms but can also affect other parts of the hand. The main symptoms are dry, itchy and red skin affecting the whole hand, including the fingers. Other symptoms may include cracking, soreness and bleeding.

How do you treat eczema on your hands? ›

Soak your hands in lukewarm water for 5 to 10 minutes and then pat them dry. Apply plain petroleum-based ointment all over your hands and put on cotton gloves. Glycerin-based ointments also help heal dry, cracked skin. Wear the gloves for at least 30 minutes.

Can high blood pressure affect your skin? ›

Studies have shown a strong correlation between high blood pressure and skin wrinkling, especially in females, 40-49 years old. Dry skin/rapid wrinkling may be the result of a thinking of the arteries which impairs the flow of oxygen in your blood to your heart and other organs, including the largest one - your skin.

Does aloe vera help peeling skin? ›

Aloe vera can also help to moisturize the skin and prevent the peeling that sometimes happens with sunburns.

Should you moisturise peeling skin? ›

Peeling skin sometimes results from dry air or sunburn. Moisturizing and gentle skin care can often help restore the health of the skin.

What can I put on raw peeled skin? ›

Treating the peeling skin
  1. Continue to regularly apply aloe vera gel or moisturizer. “This will speed skin healing as well as soften the dead skin and make it less tempting to remove,” said Wolfe.
  2. Protect yourself from the sun. Your burned skin needs time to heal.
17 Aug 2020

Does anxiety cause skin peeling? ›

Being overwhelmed with stress is a trigger for dry skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those tell-tale patches of dry, itchy, inflamed skin blooming across the body are often the physical manifestation of stress.

Does depression cause dry skin? ›

Stress can increase your risk of developing depression, negatively impact your immune system, and increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Stress can also leave a mark on your face. Dry skin, wrinkles, and acne are just some of the ways that it can manifest itself.

Can anxiety and depression cause skin problems? ›

In a vicious circle, stress, depression and other kinds of psychological problems can exacerbate the skin problems. "The common dermatological issues that have been documented to be made worse by stress include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, itching, eczema, pain and hives, just to name a few," says Fried.

What drink helps dry skin? ›

Every day, make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of fluids, which include beverages such as tea, milk, and coffee. Your skin will also thank you if you eat a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E.

What food causes dry skin? ›

Here are five foods that could be sucking the moisture out of your skin leaving it dull and dry.
  • Coffee.
  • Sugar.
  • Salty food.
  • Refined carbs.
  • Alcohol.
13 May 2020

What do hands say about your health? ›

The examination of the hand and nails can lead to a number of diagnoses. Some of these include liver disease (Terry's nails), kidney disease (Lindsay's nails), lung disease (nail clubbing), endocarditis and many others.

Is hand peeling normal? ›

Skin peeling on the fingertips is not uncommon, as most instances of peeling skin occur on the hands, feet, or lips. While skin peeling is usually not a cause for serious concern, it can be associated with several medical conditions, so a prompt diagnosis is important.

How do you get rid of peeling skin? ›

How to Get Rid of Peeling Skin
  1. Pat Skin Dry After Bathing. ...
  2. Stay Hydrated. ...
  3. Apply Moisturizer. ...
  4. Use a Gentle Exfoliant Occasionally. ...
  5. Add a Humidifier. ...
  6. Protect Skin From the Sun.

What home remedy can I use for peeling skin overnight? ›

Home remedies for peeling skin on the face
  1. Moisturizer.
  2. Cleanser.
  3. Avoid certain products.
  4. Dry gently.
  5. Lukewarm showers.
  6. Aloe vera.
  7. Drink water.
  8. Humidifier.
25 Sept 2019

What medications can cause peeling skin on hands? ›

Medications that cause dry skin
  • Diuretics. “Diuretics can definitely dry your skin,” says Robin Evans, MD, a dermatologist in Stamford, Connecticut. ...
  • Statins. “A popular type of high cholesterol medicine called a statin can cause skin changes including dry skin,” says Nonye Uddoh, Pharm. ...
  • Antihistamines. ...
  • Acne medication.
8 Jan 2020

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