What Causes Fingertip Peeling? How Do You Treat It?

Find out what is causing that mysterious peeling on your hands and treat it accordingly.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepak Jakhar, MD
By Swathi E, Certified Skin Care Coach

Seeing the skin on your fingertips peeling can be quite unsettling. Most of us have experienced skin peeling on our hands, especially on fingers and around the nails. It can be due to many factors. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the cause and treat it accordingly. This article provides you with a list of various causes of fingertip peeling, the home remedies available, and some prevention tips. Keep reading!

What Causes Fingertip Peeling?

Peeling fingertips appear as dry skin around the nails and fingertips. It can also cause rash or itching. Skin peeling on the fingertips is a common condition, and it occurs due to various factors. According to Dr. Annie Gonazalez, a board-certified dermatologist, different factors can damage the skin on your fingers. “Environmental causes, as well as underlying medical conditions, can all lead to fingertips peeling,” she says.

These are a few of the various factors that cause skin peeling on fingertips:

1. Frequent Hand Washing

Woman washing hands frequently  leads to dry skin

Shutterstock

Washing your hands too frequently may lead to skin peeling. It increases skin dryness and roughness. It may also damage the lipid barrier of the skin. Using hot water and rough paper towels can also result in dry and itchy hands.

Solution

Apply a moisturizer or hand cream after washing your hands to prevent skin dryness and peeling (1). Use a mild soap and lukewarm or cold water to wash your hands. Pat your skin dry after washing instead of wiping with a towel.

2. Weather Changes

Cold weather can lead to skin issues. Weather changes and excessive sunlight exposure can also lead to the peeling of the skin.

Solution

Use emollient creams for dry and sensitive skin. Also, avoid taking hot showers and wearing tight clothes.

3. Using Harsh Chemicals

Using products that contain harsh chemicals may affect your skin, causing fingertip peeling. Soaps, sanitizers, deodorants, antibacterial ointments, etc., can contain harsh chemicals. Avoid using these products unnecessarily if you have dry skin, as they may cause irritation and itching.

Solution

Avoid using products with artificial fragrances and preservatives. If you have sensitive skin, conduct a patch test before using any new products.

4. Sucking Fingers

Finger-sucking and chewing on the fingertips may cause skin peeling. Some infants, or even adults, may have this habit. Saliva can over hydrate the skin and lead to skin peeling.

Solution

If your child sucks their fingers, consult a pediatrician and take their suggestion to control the issue.

5. Allergic Reaction

Woman having skin irritation due to allergic reaction

Shutterstock

An allergic reaction may lead to skin irritation and peeling. Avoid products made from ingredients that do not suit your skin. Gloves made from latex are one such example of an allergen that leads to skin irritation (2).

Solution

Identify your allergies and be careful while trying out new products. Also, avoid wearing inexpensive jewelry or latex gloves to reduce skin peeling. Consult a doctor if you experience severe irritation or rashes.

6. Vitamin Deficiency

Lack of vitamin B3 or niacin may lead to skin peeling. It may also lead to pellagra, which causes inflammation and scaly skin (4). Vitamin B3 is essential for good skin health (3). It improves skin moisturization and barrier function.

Solution

Consume niacin-rich foods like bran, eggs, peanut, poultry, fish, whole-grain cereals, and legumes (5). Children may take 6-12 mg per day, while adults require 14-16 mg per day (6). You may consult your doctor before increasing your niacin intake.

7. Hand Eczema

Eczema causes dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It can be caused by genetics, allergens, and environmental factors. Contact allergens and climatic conditions cause hand eczema. In addition, harmful chemicals, soaps, and dry weather may trigger an eczema flare-up (7).

Solution

Avoid using products that contain harmful chemicals. Moisturize your hands frequently, especially after a shower. Avoid using hot water to wash your hands. Consult a doctor if you experience itching or redness.

8. Psoriasis

Psoriasis causes red, scaly, crusty patches on the skin. It may also lead to skin peeling. Usually, psoriasis occurs on the elbows, knees, and lower back. However, it can occur anywhere on your body, even on the fingertips.

Solution

Though there is no cure for psoriasis, you can improve the symptoms through topical treatments like ointments and creams (8). In severe cases, your doctor may recommend phototherapy.

9. Kawasaki Disease

Skin redness on baby's hand can peel off the skin

Shutterstock

Kawasaki disease usually occurs in children under the age of 5. Redness, skin inflammation, and fever are its symptoms. Once the fever subsides, the child’s skin may peel off.

Solution

Always consult a doctor if you notice these symptoms in your child. Children can recover from this disease within 6 to 8 weeks if treated in time (9).

10. Exfoliative Keratolysis

This condition causes the skin to appear scaly, dry, and red and eventually peel. Using irritating soaps and cleansers can cause cracks in the skin. This disorder is linked to the disruption in the structure of the stratum corneum (10).

Solution

Use moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated. However, consult a doctor to learn more about the treatment options available.

Apart from these solutions, there are also home remedies that may help you soothe the skin. Read on to find more about it.

Home Remedies For Peeling Fingertips

Dry skin conditions can be treated by moisturizing and hydrating the skin. Many home remedies help you do so.

1. Honey

Honey is a natural emollient and humectant. It soothes and heals the skin from conditions like psoriasis (11). It may help treat fingertip peeling as well.

What To Do

  1. Dab a few drops of honey on the affected area.
  2.  Leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing it off with cold water.
  3.  You may repeat this thrice a day.

2. Milk

Milk increases hydration and helps restore the skin barrier function (12). Soaking your fingers in milk may be a good remedy for skin peeling.

What To Do

  1.  Take a bowl of warm milk.
  2.  Dip your hands in it for 10-15 minutes.
  3.  Wash your hands and apply a moisturizer.

3. Aloe Vera

Woman extracting aloe vera to apply on  fingertips peeling

Shutterstock

Aloe vera acts against skin dehydration. It soothes the skin and helps manage wound healing. It also treats the pain and discomfort caused by peeling (13).

What To Do

  1.  Cut an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel from it.
  2.  Apply the gel to the affected area.
  3.  Repeat this several times a day.

4. Petroleum Jelly

The occlusive properties of petroleum jelly help lock moisture in the skin and improve barrier function (14). Thus, it may help hydrate the skin and speed up the healing of fingertip peeling.

What To Do

  1.  Apply petroleum jelly to the affected area.
  2.  Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  3.  Wash it off thoroughly with lukewarm water.

5. Natural Plant Oils

Woman applying natural oil to heal fingertip peeling

Shutterstock

Most of the plant oils hydrate the skin and improve wound healing (15). Regular use of coconut oil, almond oil, sunflower seed oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil may improve peeling skin.

What To Do

  1.  Dab a few drops of oil on the affected area. You do not need to wash it off later.
  2.  Repeat this remedy 2-3 times a day.

In some cases, natural remedies will not be enough to heal fingertip peeling. Find out what to do in this case and when to consult a doctor.

When Should You Consult A Doctor?

A mild case of fingertip peeling can be treated with home remedies and moisturizers. However, it may worsen due to other underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Gonzales suggests seeking professional help is better if the fingertip peeling does not improve after a week of proper care. “You should see your doctor if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing or intense pain, as this may indicate other serious medical issues,” she says.

If left untreated for long, the affected area may get infected. So, it is better to get it diagnosed and take proper treatment.

Your doctor may prescribe the following medications:

  •  Ointments
  •  Antibiotics
  •  Antihistamines

Check out the next section for some tips to prevent fingertip peeling.

How To Prevent Fingertip Peeling

  •  Keep your skin moisturized. Apply moisturizing creams at least twice a day.
  •  Avoid taking hot water showers as it may dry out your skin. You may use lukewarm water for washing your hands and bathing.
  •  Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it with a rough towel.
  •  Avoid using products with harsh chemicals.
  •  Consume foods that are rich in vitamins B3 and B7.
  •  Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water may help hydrate your skin.

The Final Takeaway

Fingertip peeling is quite common. It can occur due to environmental factors and underlying medical conditions. Identify the cause and treat it accordingly. There are many home remedies available. However, if the symptoms persist even after a week, you should consult a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for your fingertips to peel?

Yes, it is not unusual for the skin on your fingertips to peel. Mild peeling can be addressed with simple home remedies. However, if the peeling persists for a week, consult your doctor.

How do you get rid of peeling skin overnight?

You cannot get rid of peeling skin overnight. You can try simple remedies such as using petroleum jelly and staying hydrated to help reduce peeling.

Key Takeaways

  • Environmental causes and underlying medical conditions can lead to peeling fingertips.
  • Weather changes and excessive sunlight exposure can also lead to the peeling of the skin.
  • Honey is a natural emollient and humectant that may help treat this condition.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Regular use of a hand cream can attenuate skin dryness and roughness caused by frequent hand washing
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC1397860/
  2. Latex Allergy
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45164/
  3. Nicotinic acid/niacinamide and the skin
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147561
  4. Pellagra
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16207585/
  5. Vitamin B3
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526107/
  6. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin Riboflavin Niacin Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Pantothenic Acid Biotin and Choline
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114304/
  7. Hand Eczema
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4037938/
  8. Psoriasis
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/
  9. Kawasaki Disease
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kawasaki-disease/
  10. Keratolysis exfoliativa
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26990340/
  11. Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24305429/
  12. A novel mechanism for improvement of dry skin by dietary milk phospholipids: Effect on epidermal covalently bound ceramides and skin inflammation in hairless mice
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25816721/
  13. Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92765/
  14. Effects of petrolatum on stratum corneum structure and function
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1564142/
  15. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/
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Swathi has a postgraduate degree in English literature from The English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and a diploma in... more

Dr. Deepak Jakhar

(MD)
Dr. Deepak Jakhar is the co-founder and medical director of Dermosphere Clinic in New Delhi, India. He completed his post-graduation... more

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