Peeling Skin on Hands or Fingers: Causes and Effective Treatments

Peeling Skin on Hands or Fingers: Causes and Treatments
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Peeling skin on your hands or fingers can cause much discomfort when going about your daily activities. Red rashes, flaking skin, and blisters on your hands can also make you feel self-conscious and embarrassed in social situations. When skin peels from your hands or fingers it can also cause pain and leave your skin open to infections.

There are a number of factors that can cause the skin on your fingers or hands to peel. For example, blisters caused by burns, dry skin, or the cold weather can leave your palms and the back of the hands feeling raw as the skin begins to peel. Sometimes, skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, fungal or bacterial infections can all damage the skin on your hands and cause it to peel off in flakes.

This article examines the various reasons for peeling skin on your hands or fingers. You will also find helpful home remedies to soothe your skin condition and help repair the dermal layer on your hands.

Causes of Peeling Skin on Hands or Fingers and What to Do About It

Sometimes the causes of peeling skin on fingers or hands are quite obvious if they have been injured. Usually, once the skin has healed after a burn or other injury, the peeling should stop as the skin renews itself. However, other skin conditions are chronic and need regular care and moisturizing to prevent flaky, dead bits of skin peeling off.

Sunburn

Sunburn is a common reason for skin peeling off your hand or fingers. In fact, Dr.Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that sunburn is a “classic example” of a condition that causes peeling skin.1

If your hands are not protected in the bright sun, the sun’s harmful rays can damage exposed areas of the skin on your hand. The sunburned area will be red and possibly warm to touch. After a few days, the skin may start to peel off. Usually, the peeling is painless because the shed skin is dead.

Depending on the intensity and extent of sun damage, sunburn may take a few days or weeks to heal completely. During that time, you can help repair your skin by using a natural treatments for sunburn.

Home remedy:

To help repair skin that has been damaged by sunburn, you should apply pure aloe vera gel. The journal Phytomedicine reported that aloe vera gel can help repair skin damaged by burns, reduce skin inflammation, and help speed up the healing process.2

All you have to do is apply aloe vera gel to the affected skin on your hands throughout the day. Continue to apply the aloe vera remedy until you no longer have skin peeling on your hands and fingers.

You can find more natural remedies in my article on how to get rid of sunburn and sunburn blisters.

Cold weather or other environmental factors

On the other extreme, cold, dry weather can also cause peeling skin on your hands and fingers. Very often, factors like cold weather, warm dry indoor air, and frequently washing hands with warm water and harsh soaps combine to dry out the skin on your hands causing it to peel and flake.

Dr. Brunilda Nazario on WebMD explains that winter-dry skin can cause patches of skin to become flaky and itchy.3 Depending on the type of skin a person has, the dry skin can start to crack and peel.

There is also a rare condition called Keratolytic Winter Erythema that, according to the Primary Care Dermatology Society, causes the skin from a person’s palms to peel which worsens during cold, dry climatic periods.4

Home remedy for dry flaky skin:

Oatmeal is an effective home remedy to alleviate the symptoms of dry skin on your hands, including flaky, peeling skin. A study published in 2007 found that applying an oatmeal remedy to skin helps to lock in moisture, reduce any inflammation and irritation, and soothes itchy skin.

To help repair skin on your hands and fingers that have been affected by cold weather, you should put a handful of ground oats in a bowl of warm water. Soak your hands for 10 minutes and every so often, gently rub the oatmeal on the affected patches of dry skin. This also has an exfoliating effect of removing dead skin from your hands. Use the oatmeal remedy daily to keep your hands and fingers well moisturized and free from peeling skin.

Burns

Any kind of burn on your hands can damage the outer layer and cause the skin to eventually peel off. Burns to any area of your body can leave you with sore patches of red skin that is tender to touch with fluid-filled blisters and a possible skin infection.

As the burn starts to heal, you may notice that the skin starts to peel. You should try to avoid peeling off skin that doesn’t come away easily. Rather than trying to peel off dead skin from your hand, you could try some of the many natural treatments for burns to repair damaged skin.

Home remedy for peeling skin

Honey is an effective home remedy for burns that cause the skin to peel from your palms, fingers, or backs of your hands. The journal Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters reported that honey is an effective natural burn treatment because it is antimicrobial, reduces inflammation, and repairs damaged skin cells quickly.5

All you need to do to help stop skin peeling on hands and reduce redness around the burned skin is to apply a little raw honey to the affected skin on your hands. You can also mix equal amounts of honey, aloe vera, and plain yogurt to make a honey treatment for repairing skin damaged by burns.

Allergic reactions

Some people have very sensitive skin on their hands, and certain irritants can cause allergic reactions or contact dermatitis that result in peeling skin. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, allergies often cause skin peeling along with itching and a rash.6 In some cases, the allergen could trigger an outbreak of hives on your skin.

If you think that an allergen is causing itchy patches of skin on your hand that start to peel, you should try to identify the trigger and then avoid it.

Bad manicure

Sometimes skin peeling occurs around the nails and cuticle on your fingers. There are a number of reasons causing the skin at the tips of your fingers to start peeling.

Dr. Laura J. Martin on WebMD explains that if your cuticles get dry, they will start to peel and flake. Also, redness and peeling skin can occur after a manicure if the manicurist has cut the cuticle or pushed it back too vigorously.14

Dr. Martin recommends using a good moisturizer to keep your hands and the skin around your fingernails hydrated to prevent peeling. You should also make sure that your manicurist doesn’t cut off the cuticle around your nails.

Hand eczema

One of the symptoms of hand eczema is very dry skin that starts to peel and flake off. There are various types of eczema that can affect different parts of the body. Because we use our hands for most daily activities, irritants and allergens can trigger eczema outbreaks on your hands.

According to the National Eczema Association, some of the other symptoms of hand eczema are itchy skin, redness, cracks, and blisters. They recommend applying moisturizers to your hands to help manage eczema flare-ups and stop skin on your hands from becoming cracked and peeling.15

Home remedy for hand eczema

Virgin coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer for eczema that can nourish your hands and fingers to reduce its symptoms. A study published in the journal Dermatitis reported that the antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut oil are effective to treat dermatitis. Coconut oil also kills off bacterial and fungal skin infections.7

To use virgin coconut oil to soothe cracked and peeling skin caused by hand eczema, you should gently massage a little oil into the affected area several times a day. This will help to relieve itching, flaking, and reduce redness from your hands.

You can find other natural remedies in my article about 13 natural remedies for eczema (backed by research).

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that is characterized by patches of red flaky skin that come and go. Psoriasis can affect any area of the body including the hands, fingers, and fingernails.

According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of psoriasis are red patches of dead skin with silvery scales. These scales may flake off like dandruff. Along with the skin peeling, the skin lesions may be itchy, sore, and bleed if the skin becomes dry and cracked.8

If psoriasis affects your fingernails, you may find that they become discolored, peel, and become crumbly.

Although there is no cure, you can manage the symptoms of psoriasis with natural home remedies. These natural treatments help to reduce redness and scaling, give you relief from itching, and help moisturize dry cracked skin.

Home remedy:

Raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great home remedy to help relieve the discomfort psoriasis causes. The high pH level of ACV helps to reduce itching and kill off any bacteria that may cause infection and help remove dead skin from your hands.

You can make a solution of raw apple cider vinegar by diluting one part ACV and 3 parts water. Apply the apple cider vinegar remedy to the affected skin on your hands by soaking a washcloth in the liquid. Squeeze out the excess and hold on the psoriasis-affected skin for a few minutes. Repeat several times a day until the flare up has reduced. After washing the ACV, apply some soothing coconut oil to your skin to moisturize it and prevent peeling from the inflamed patch of skin on your hands and fingers.

You can find more home remedies in my article about 12 natural ways to relieve psoriasis.

Fungal skin infection

A fungal infection on your hand or in between your fingers could be to blame for peeling and flaking skin. According to Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, the symptoms of fungal skin infections are flaking or peeling skin, red patches of itchy skin, and possibly red blisters.9

Fungal skin infections often occur between your toes (athlete’s foot), in your groin (jock itch), or cause a rash in the moist, warm folds of the skin. However, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, these fungal infections can also spread to your hands and fingernails.10

Home remedy for skin fungal infections:

One of the best natural ingredients to kill off fungal infections from your skin is tea tree oil. When combined with virgin coconut oil (also antifungal) it makes a powerful moisturizing ointment to treat fungal skin infections on hands as well as other body parts.

The Journal of Applied Microbiology reported that tea tree oil has antifungal activity against a wide range of fungi.11

To help get rid of fungal infections between your fingers and on your hands, you should add 3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil. Apply to the affected skin on your hands 2-3 times a day until the signs of the fungal infection have gone for good and you don’t have peeling skin on your hands or fingers.

Tinea manuum

Ringworm is another fungal infection that can affect your hands and fingers and cause patches of scaling skin that flake off. Ringworm infections on your hand are called tinea manuum. According to the American Academy of Physicians, tinea manuum causes scaling and flaking skin on the palms of the hands, between fingers, and on the back of hands.10

Ringworm is very infectious and you can help prevent it infecting your hands by washing your hands after playing with pets and avoiding sharing clothes or towels with someone who has ringworm.

You can treat fungal infections on the skin with a tea tree and coconut oil homemade salve or use these other natural remedies for ringworm.

Scarlet fever

A bacterial infection can cause scarlet fever and can actually cause the skin on your hands and fingers to peel. Although scarlet fever usually causes a sore throat and rash, peeling skin where the skin rash occurred is quite common.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that scarlet fever can cause a rash on the hands. When the rash starts to disappear, you may have skin peeling around the finger tips.12

The signs of scarlet fever, such as red tongue, sore throat, enlarged glands in the neck, high fever often with chills, nausea or vomiting shouldn’t be ignored as it can lead to other health complications. If you think you have scarlet fever, you should see a doctor promptly.

Exfoliative keratolysis

Another skin condition that can cause peeling skin on the palms of your hands and ends of your fingers is exfoliative keratolysis. This hand skin-peeling condition is different to hand eczema, psoriasis, and fungal infections as doctors don’t know what causes it.

According to dermatologist Dr. Amanda Oakley, exfoliative keratolysis starts off as blisters on the fingers of palms. When these blisters burst, the dead skin starts to peel and the skin may become red, dry and cracked. Dr. Oakley recommends using effective emollient hand creams containing urea or lactic acid to manage the symptoms.13

Home remedy:

One way to treat the symptoms of exfoliative keratolysis is using a cream that contains natural ingredients. For example, urea is a natural ingredient and creams containing it are very effective in treating peeling skin conditions. Although not entirely natural, urea cream is a good and cheap way to quickly soothe irritated itchy and flaky skin on your hands.

You could also use virgin coconut oil to naturally moisturize your hands and help to lessen the outbreaks of peeling skin on your palms.

Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that can affect young children. It can result in swollen glands, a rash, red fingers and toes, and cracked lips.

According to doctors at the National Health Service, during the middle phase of Kawasaki disease, you may notice peeling skin on the fingers, palms of the hands, toes, and soles.16

Kawasaki disease is a serious health condition that requires professional medical supervision.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. MedicineNet. Peeling skin.
  2. Phytomedicine. 1996 Jan;2(3):247-51.
  3. WebMD. Dry skin. Soothing the winter itch.
  4. PCDS. Peeling skin conditions.
  5. Ann Burns Fire Disasters. 2014 Mar 31; 27(1): 22–30.
  6. MayoClinic. Peeling skin.
  7. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.
  8. MayoClinic. Psoriasis.
  9. WebMD. Fungal infections of the skin.
  10. AAFP. Tinea infections.
  11. J App Microbiol. 2003 Oct;94(4):853-860.
  12. CDC. Scarlet fever.
  13. DermNet. Exfoliative keratolysis.
  14. WebMD. 6 Ways to Care for Your Cuticles.
  15. National Eczema Association. Understanding hand eczema.
  16. NHS. Kawasaki disease
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