Causes and Remedies of Peeling Skin on Feet

  • What Could Be Causing Your Feet To Peel?
  • Symptoms Of Peeling Feet
  • When And How To Treat Peeling Skin On The Bottom Of Feet
  • Other Reasons Your Feet Are Peeling And How To Fix Them
  • When To See A Doctor

What Could Be Causing Your Feet To Peel?

Peeling Skin Syndrome (PSS), or the condition of severe skin peeling on feet, is a group of rare inherited skin disorders in which the normal ongoing process of invisible peeling of the outermost skin layer is intensified. The characteristic features of this condition include continuous, spontaneous, and painless peeling of the skin that occurs due to the separation of the outermost skin layer from the layers lying below it.

1. Genetic Defects

A major cause of peeling skin on feet is genetic defects present in several distinct genes.

The genes that cause peeling skin syndrome due to their malfunctioning are TGM5, CHST8, FLG2, CSTA, SERPINB8, and CDSN. Other unknown genes may also play a part in the development of this skin condition.

2. Environmental Causes

Apart from the genetic defects, environmental factors also play a role in worsening skin peeling on the feet and toes.

Your feet undergo a lot of strain every day. Right from remaining stuffed inside shoes for long hours to coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, they face several conditions that may trigger excessive skin peeling on feet. Some of the environmental causes that aggravate peeling skin on feet and toes include exposure to heat, friction, humidity, sweat, and other sources of moisture. Under such conditions, the skin may temporarily become red and itchy, but they heal without any scarring.

Skin peeling on the hands and feet is undesirable, and no one wants to deal with it. But to be able to treat this condition, you must first learn to identify its signs and symptoms. Let us take a look at how you can recognize this skin issue.

Symptoms Of Peeling Feet

Peeling Skin Syndrome is a genetic skin condition that develops at birth or during the early stages of infancy. It starts with the peeling or shedding of the external or outermost layer of the skin.

However, the development of symptoms is not limited to birth and early childhood. This means symptoms leading to peeling skin on hands and feet can develop at any age. It can even develop in adults. In certain types of this syndrome, the skin peeling takes place without causing any pain or any other symptoms to the individual. But in some other cases, this skin condition is marked by several symptoms. As such, Peeling Skin Syndrome is classified as non- inflammatory (type A) or inflammatory (type B).

The symptoms of this skin condition may vary from individual to individual and range from severe to mild. Some of the common signs and symptoms of peeling skin syndrome include the following:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Continuous peeling of the outer layer of the skin
  • Itching
  • Darkening of skin patches (hyperpigmentation)
  • Blisters
  • Skin fragility
  • Short stature
  • Formation of new hair that needs less effort to be plucked out than normal hair
  • Flare-ups of foot and hand eczema
  • Juvenile plantar dermatosis (chronic dry skin on children’s feet)
  • Scarlet fever (in case of an acutely unwell child)
  • Kawasaki disease (rarely)

Learn how to treat peeling skin on the feet in the next section.

When And How To Treat Peeling Skin On The Bottom Of Feet

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may take care of your feet through home treatment or opt for medical assistance.

I. At-Home Treatments

Here are some of the home care procedures that you can follow to keep the skin peeling on your feet under control. But, remember that these solutions will work depending on the cause and severity of your condition.

  • Keep your feet sufficiently moisturized. You can use a thick moisturizer for this purpose.
  • If you have athlete’s foot, you can apply an over-the-counter antifungal cream to get relief.
  • In the case of blisters, ensure to cover them and keep them dry and clean. You can use Band-Aids for this purpose.
  • Avoid wearing shoes if you feel that it will create friction with the blisters.
  • Try to keep your feet dry and clean as much as possible.
  • Do not risk walking barefoot on any surface that may be contaminated.
  • If your feet develop calluses, apply some callus remover and use a pumice stone to gently rub the area.
  • Apply an oatmeal scrub to remove dead skin from your feet.
  • Soak your feet in a solution of Epsom salt and water, then gently brush off the dead cells using a foot brush or pumice stone.
  • Try to keep an eye on what triggers the skin condition.
II. Medical Treatments

When you opt for medical treatment to deal with dry peeling skin on your feet, it will involve a two-step procedure. The first step is medical diagnosis of the skin condition, and the second step is an appropriate course of action for treatment.

Generally, Peeling Skin Syndrome is diagnosed with the help of scrutiny of the symptoms and clinical examinations. Sometimes, specialized tests may also be required to evaluate the condition. Such tests help to distinguish PSS from other skin issues, such as Netherton syndrome.

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The main focus of treating this skin syndrome is the management of the symptoms. The aim is to avoid skin damage while providing relief from the symptoms. The common method followed for treating this skin condition is to apply skin softening ointments. These ointments are often prescribed to be applied after a bath when the skin is still moist. Vaseline and plain petroleum jelly are also recommended for treating this condition. Along with these, individuals are also asked to avoid triggers that may aggravate the issue, such as heat, humidity, sweat, water, and other factors.

You may seek professional guidance from a dermatologist to deal with this issue.

Besides PSS, your skin could also be peeling due to some other reasons. Learn all about them in the next section.

Other Reasons Your Feet Are Peeling And How To Fix Them

If your feet have suddenly started peeling, you need to explore the root cause of the issue before taking any remedial steps. Here are some of the common reasons your feet may be peeling excessively:

1. Fungal Infections

A fungal infection can cause your feet to peel. For instance, if you have athlete’s foot, you may just be experiencing peeling of the skin but no itchiness. As such, you may not even doubt that it is a fungal infection. Once you are sure of the infection, you can apply OTC antifungal creams to deal with the issue.

2. Dry Skin

A major cause of your feet feeling flaky and itchy could be dryness. Yes, if your feet are excessively dry and lack natural oils, it can lead to such skin problems. You may also experience cracked and peeling soles. This is an indication to take good care of your skin in general and your feet in particular.

A good foot cream with excellent moisturizing properties can help you out in this case. You can also visit a dry skin care specialist to get your feet treated properly.

3. Sunburn

Most people remember to apply sunscreen on their faces and hands when stepping out. But, their feet are often forgotten in such cases. Exposing your feet to the harsh rays of the sun may cause itching and uncontrollable peeling.

To overcome this issue, you can apply an aloe vera-based lotion to soothe your skin and get relief from the itching. You can also apply a moisturizing cream to reduce the peeling.

4. Humid Workout Sessions

Sometimes, foot infections and peeling of skin can develop when you spend a considerable amount of time in a humid environment, such as a gym. On top of that, if you work out barefoot or share the same yoga mat with someone else, your feet may catch a fungal or bacterial infection.

To steer clear of such issues, wear socks that wick away sweat and absorb moisture. Also, try to keep your feet clean and sweat-free at all times.

5. Eczema

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can cause your feet to become red, dry, and itchy. This can lead to the development of warts and sores along with peeling of the skin. In such a case, you must consult a dermatologist to get proper treatment.

When To See A Doctor

While peeling skin on the soles and feet usually does not cause any pain, sometimes the issue can turn into a major cause of concern. You need to consult and a doctor if you experience one or more of the issues mentioned below:

  • Numbness or pain in the feet.
  • The symptoms persist for a long time.
  • One or both of your feet develop acute pain that causes trouble when you walk.
  • Symptoms of infection of any kind, including fever.
  • An external object, such as a piece of wood or glass, is stuck in your foot.
  • You suffered an injury to your foot by stepping on something sharp and have not taken a shot of tetanus recently.
  • You suspect you have psoriasis.
The Bottom Line

Peeling skin on the feet is a clear indication of an underlying issue. There may be one or more reasons for your skin to start peeling off. Instead of ignoring the matter, you need to figure out the exact cause. Once you do that, you can seek medical help or try home-treatment options to overcome the problem. If you take appropriate measures on time, you can easily control the skin peeling on your feet and get relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is peeling skin a sign of?

Peeling skin can indicate several things. It can mean that your skin is damaged due to an infection or sunburn. It can also mean that you have an immune system disorder or a genetic disease. This condition may even hint towards an allergic reaction.

How do I stop the bottom of my feet from peeling?

To prevent the bottom of your feet from peeling, you can moisturize them regularly after showering, when the skin is still moist. You can also use a pumice stone to get rid of the dead skin.

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