Reasons Why Your Fingertips May Be Peeling

What Expert Says

“Skin peeling around your fingertips is not unusual. It happens when your body is lacking hydration or due to extreme heat. People who have hand eczema or psoriasis may also suffer from fingertips peeling.”

Nikita Kolhe, Product Development Executive, ishonest

  • What Are The Causes Of Peeling Fingertips?
  • How Can You Treat Peeling Skin On Fingertips?
  • How Can You Prevent Peeling Fingertips?
  • What Are The Complications Of Untreated Peeling Fingertips?

What Are The Causes Of Peeling Fingertips?

If you have noticed skin peeling around your finger tips, this is usually the result of dry skin. A number of external or internal factors may contribute towards this. The top 10 factors that cause fingertips to peel are:

1. The Environment

The environment and weather changes can often trigger dry skin. Cold and dry winters bring with them dry skin concerns, one of them being finger tip peeling. Excessive exposure to the sunlight can also lead to sunburn, which may cause fingertips to peel. It may also make the fingertips tender to touch.The skin turns pink or red when sunburnt. Sweating during the summer season may also be a culprit.

What Can You Do About This?

If the winter season is the culprit to your peeling skin, consider investing in a humidifier. Using a heavy cream for very dry or sensitive skin can help. Avoid taking long baths in hot water and wear clothes that don’t hug your body.

2. Using Chemical Products

Harsh chemicals in products may affect your skin, causing it to peel. Hand washes with harsh chemicals are often the main culprit of skin irritation and peeling. If your skin is already dry, these chemicals may cause itchiness and irritation. Harsh soaps and chemicals may also damage your skin’s lipid barrier, resulting in skin irritation and peeling.

What Can You Do About This?

Ensure that you understand your skin type before investing in any skin care products. Also avoid using products with fragrances, Isothiazoinones, Cocamidopropyl betaine or preservatives. You can also conduct a patch-test to check whether your skin reacts to any products. Get yourself a hand wash formulated for your skin type.

3. Frequently Washing Hands

While this may sound contradictory, frequently washing your hands can strip away your skin’s essential oils and moisture. Your skin’s lipid barrier keeps it lubricated and protects the top layer of your skin from environmental aggressors. A damaged barrier leads to dryness, irritation and may result in peeling of your fingertips.

Using hot water to wash your hands, can also strip away the essential oils and required moisture. Your skin may become dry, itchy and eventually peel off.

What Can You Do About This?

While you must wash your hands frequently, considering the current pandemic, carry a moisturizer with you. According to ishonest’s Product Development Executive, Nikita Kolhe, “Using moisturizers is a must to heal this condition. Look for ingredients like shea butter, coocabutter, and glycerine in the moisturizer. Ointments that have almond oil,coconut oil and sunflower oil are equally helpful. 2 to 3 times of repeated application per day will definitely reduce the skin peeling.”

4. Allergic reactions

Allergies to certain materials that your hand comes in contact with may also cause the peeling of your fingertips. Harsh chemicals and jewellery made of materials that don't suit your skin may cause it to feel itchy. Your skin may peel off eventually. Excessive use of latex gloves may also irritate the skin and lead to peeling fingertips.

What Can You Do About This?

Avoid using inexpensive jewellery that doesn’t suit your skin type. Also reduce the usage of latex gloves if your skin is allergic to them. Importantly, understand your allergies to know the reason behind your peeling skin.

5. Finger-sucking

This is a common habit in infants and toddlers, and may lead to peeling fingertips. The saliva comes in contact with fingers and can dehydrate the skin, causing this condition. While commonly seen in infants, a few adults may also chew their fingertips under stress, causing the skin to peel.

What Can You Do About This?

If you notice that your child sucks on his or her finger to an extent that it is affecting their skin and causing it to peel, talk to your doctor.

6. Vitamin Imbalance

Whether it be the deficiency or excess of Vitamins, both conditions can trigger the peeling of skin around fingertips.

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin), which is naturally found in your body and also obtained from certain foods, is essential for good skin health [1]. Niacin ensures that your cells carry out their functions properly. It aids in skin hydration and helps improve skin barrier functions. A lack of this vitamin may result in peeling of your skin.

Deficiency of vitamin B7 (Biotin) may also contribute to peeling skin near your fingertips. This deficiency is rare and may result in dermatitis, darkening of the skin and hair loss.

On the other hand, too much of Vitamin A can irritate your skin and cause it to feel itchy and peel at the fingertips.

What Can You Do About This?

As Niacin is not stored by the body, you need to consume foods rich in it. It should be taken in the right amounts, depending on your age and gender [2]. Thus while infants from 0-6 months need up to 2mg per day, pregnant women need up to 18mg per day.

Children need 6mg-12mg per day depending on their age, while men and women over the age of 14 years, require 16mg and 14mg/day respectively. If you’re unsure, consult a doctor, before consuming Vitamin B supplements.

Niacin deficiency may also be the cause of pellagra, a skin condition that results in inflammation and scaly skin [3].

A vitamin B3-rich diet will include:

A Biotin rich diet will include:

  • chicken
  • salmon
  • cod lamb
  • turkey
  • sardines
  • grass-fed beef
  • green peas
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • collard greens
  • spinach
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • avocados
  • eggs nuts
  • cashews
  • sesame seeds
  • salmon
  • bananas

7. Hand Eczema

Eczema is a type of dermatitis that causes dry, itchy and inflamed skin. It is quite common on the fingertips as well [4]. Eczema is associated with environmental conditions and genes. Certain chemicals may also result in flare ups. If somebody in your family has eczema, it is likely that you may also have it. Certain professionals such as healthcare, mechanics, hairdressers are more likely to get hand eczema due to their exposure to various chemicals.

A few triggers that your skin may be sensitive to include soaps, detergents, dust, pollen, certain juices, pet fur and dandruff. You may be allergic to some foods as well.

What Can You Do About This?

Avoid using products that contain too many chemicals. Do not use extremely hot water to wash your hands. Also, moisturize your hands frequently. Talk to your doctor if you notice any redness, itching or tenderness.

8. Psoriasis

This autoimmune skin disorder causes red, raised patches of skin. This may also contribute to the peeling of your skin and finger tips. Psoriasis is said to be triggered by stress. However, other things that may trigger a skin reaction include vaccines, sunburn and scratches.

What Can You Do About This?

Talk to your doctor if anybody else in your family has psoriasis. If you have already been diagnosed with the same, make it a point to continue treatment and apply your topical medication to areas where you notice peeling. In severe cases, your doctor may suggest phototherapy.

9. Exfoliative Keratolysis

This skin condition usually occurs in summer [5]. It causes the skin to appear dry, red and eventually peel. This skin disorder is caused by the breakdown of Keratin, a protein vital for good skin health. As Keratin offers strength and elasticity to skin, its break-down may impair these properties, causing the skin to shed. However, why this results in constant skin peeling is unknown.

What Can You Do About This?

A hydrating moisturiser can be helpful. You can also talk to your dermatologist for suitable treatments.

10. Kawasaki Disease

This disease usually occurs in children below the age of 5. It causes inflammation of the blood vessels that may contribute to heart disease in young children. It is segregated into three stages. The first is characterized by high fever that lasts for a few days. Eventually, the child’s skin may peel off. Redness and skin inflammation may be noticed too[6].

What Can You Do About This?

Talk to your doctor if you suspect your child may have Kawasaki disease.

How Can You Treat Peeling Skin On Fingertips?

A combination of natural remedies and prescription medication can help you deal with the peeling skin on your fingertips.

Natural Remedies

Moisturizing and hydrating agents can help in soothing, reducing and also eliminating a dry skin condition. These include.

1. Honey

Honey is a natural humectant [7]. It attracts moisture from the environment onto the surface of your skin. It may help you to fix the peeling your fingertips are experiencing. To use this, dab a few drops of honey onto the affected area with a cotton all. Leave for 30 minutes and gently rinse with cold water. Repeat the process thrice everyday for best results.

2. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly helps to seal-in moisture on your skin. Apply it to the skin around your nails to make them softer. However, as it may make your skin greasy, remember to wash your hands before you indulge in any activities.

3. Essential Oils

Use an essential oil to hydrate your fingertips and the peeling skin around your nails. This will also leave them smelling great! Moisturize your skin and finger tips using jojoba oil, sesame oil, myrrh oil or lavender.

To use this, mix a few drops of your essential oil in a carrier oil and heat up till lukewarm. Apply to your fingertips and leave on for about half an hour. Rinse off with cold water

Note : Make sure that you dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.

Note :

Make sure that you dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.

4. Hot wax

A hot wax treatment can also soothe your peeling skin. This involves the usage of various creams and oils that soothe your skin and prevent it from feeling irritated.

Prescription Medicines

If the peeling of your fingertips isn’t reducing, despite natural remedies, your doctor may prescribe some topical and systemic medication to help soothe your skin. This is usually done if you have a skin disorder like eczema or psoriasis.

1. Ointments Or Lotions

Your doctor may prescribe a heavy cream or ointment to reduce dryness and seal- in moisture. Some of them also contain anti-inflammatory properties that provide relief from pain. If you notice any bleeding, your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic cream to prevent infection.

2. Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be given by your doctor if the peeling of your finger tips is associated with bacterial infections.

3. Antihistamines

If an allergen is the cause, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines. These work by reducing the production of histamines [8], which are chemicals made by the immune system.

Particular foods or products may trigger immune system responses that produce these chemicals. This leads to redness, pain, inflammation or peeling. Antihistamines are usually prescribed if you have a skin disorder like eczema [9].

Your doctor may prescribe first or second generation antihistamines like Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine) etc.

Note : Antihistamines may also cause side effects like low BP and dry mouth.

Note :

Antihistamines may also cause side effects like low BP and dry mouth.

How Can You Prevent Peeling Fingertips?

1. Protect Them From Cold And Dry Weather

Your cuticles may dry up during cold weather. Make it a point to apply moisturizer regularly and if feasible, carry a small bottle with you everywhere you go. If you happen to live in extremely cold weather, wear gloves when you step out.

2. Avoid Taking A Bath With Hot Water

Hot water may dry your skin. Constantly washing your hands already plays quite a major role in drying your fingertips. In addition to that, using hot water may contribute to a broken skin barrier. Avoid taking very hot showers. Using lukewarm water and patting your hands dry, rather than rubbing them with a rough towel can help.

3. Avoid Using Any Harsh Chemicals

Use a product that is moisturizing and avoid using soaps and hand washes that are drying. These tend to dry up your skin and cause your cuticles to peel. Choose a hydrating product that suits your skin type.

4. Consume Healthy Foods

Food items that are rich in Vitamins B3 and B7 should be taken regularly, in the case of a deficiency [10]. Consume foods rich in other vitamins and minerals like greens, fruits and other such edibles.Also remember to stay hydrated by drinking more water. This will help improve blood circulation.

5. Apply Topical Emollients

Topical emollients are moisturizing and offer intense hydration to the skin. They relieve the skin of itchiness, dryness and prevent peeling [11].

What Are The Complications Of Untreated Peeling Fingertips?

If the skin around your nails is peeling, you may have to consider visiting the doctor. An expert’s opinion and a thorough assessment is required to understand it’s underlying cause. If left untreated your skin may develop an infection.

If the skin beneath your epidermis is exposed, it may in fact become the breeding ground for bacteria and contribute to infections. In the case of skin disorders, you must note other symptoms, and visit a doctor to avoid complications.

Addressing the main cause of peeling skin is important to prevent further complications in the case of an infection.

Wrapping Up

Fingertip peeling is not uncommon. However, the causes of the condition may differ, depending on various external and internal factors. It is important to keep the skin moisturized with products that suit your skin type. Also, taking precautions like avoiding hot water baths may help. Internal factors like a deficiency of certain vitamins may have to be addressed before addressing the symptom.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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