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Causes of Peeling Skin on Fingers

Frequently washing your hands with a soap that contains harsh chemicals can cause the skin on your hands to peel off. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the contributing factors for peeling skin on fingers.
HealthHearty Staff
Our skin is composed of three layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. Under the epidermis lies dermis, which is a deep vascular layer. The third layer lies under the dermis, and is composed of fat and connective tissue. The epidermis, which mainly comprises cells called keratinocytes, is divided into five layers. The outermost layer or the horny layer of epidermis is called stratum corneum. It is composed of 25-30 layers of flattened, dead keratinocytes. They produce a scleroprotein called keratin. Once keratinocytes mature, they move from the bottom of the epidermis to the surface of the skin. The cells that form the epidermis are constantly being shed and replaced by the new cells. It is believed that the epidermis replaces itself every 28 days. As we age, the rate at which the skin cells get renewed decreases.
Causes of Peeling Skin

More often than not, skin problems occur when we don't keep the skin moisturized. This is especially true for our hands. Here are some of the common contributing factors for peeling skin on fingers:
◆ The term 'palmar hyperhidrosis' refers to a condition that is characterized by excessive sweating on the hands. Peeling of the skin on the palm and fingers is often observed in individuals affected by this condition.
◆ In the stratum corneum, keratinocytes are interspersed with epidermal lipids. These form a waterproof moisture barrier. These reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which in turn keeps the skin supple. This moisture barrier also protects the skin from pathogens, chemical irritants, and allergens. The slightly acidic pH (4.5 to 6.5) of the moisture barrier could change due to the topical application of soaps and cosmetic products that contain harsh chemicals. Under such circumstances, the skin is likely to become dry, which in turn can make one susceptible to certain skin disorders.
◆ Frequent washing of the hands can also cause the skin on the hands to become dry. It might also cause the skin to peel off. If you have a jobs that requires frequent wetting of hands, then you must ensure that you keep your hands moisturized.
◆ Our skin remains soft and supple due to the presence of natural body oils. Taking hot showers can strip the body of these natural oils, thereby making it dry.
◆ Certain skin conditions can also cause the skin to peel off. These include eczema (inflammatory skin disorder that causes rashes), fungal infections, psoriasis (chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes red, raised patches of scaly skin, cracked or flaky skin, skin that burns, thick and pitted fingernails, etc.), felon (infection of the fingertip pulp), herpetic whitlow (cutaneous infection of the distal aspect of the finger caused by herpes simplex virus), cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin and deep underlying tissue), etc.
◆ Dry skin can also be caused due to dehydration. Dry skin is usually accompanied by symptoms such as dull appearance, flaking of the skin, roughness, cracking of the skin, etc. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also contribute to dehydration.
◆ Certain drugs can also cause the skin to become dry. Acne medication, chemotherapy drugs, or oral retinoids can have a drying effect.
◆ Prolonged exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun is one of the major factors for dry, damaged skin. It can cause the skin to become dry and peel off. Cold winds can also have a very drying effect on the skin.
Precautionary Measures

It is extremely essential to keep the skin moisturized at all times.
◆ Use lukewarm water while taking a bath. Don't take hot showers, as that will strip the body of its natural oils.
◆ Minimize exposure to the sun. Apply a sunscreen with a high SPF while stepping outdoors.
◆ Use skin care products that are meant for your skin type.
◆ Don't use skin care products that contain harsh chemicals. Use natural or herbal products. Applying the aloe vera gel is a good remedy for dry skin.
◆ Moisturize your hands more often, especially if you wash your hands several times.
◆ You can also follow certain home remedies. Apply cucumber juice or grated cucumber over the affected area. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, till your skin absorbs it, Thereafter, wash it off with warm water. Applying coconut oil on the affected skin might also help.
◆ Also, increase your fluid intake so as to prevent dehydration.
◆ Cut down on the intake of processed food, and follow a healthy diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, etc.
The aforementioned measures can help prevent the skin from becoming dry. However, medical assistance must be sought if peeling skin on the fingers is a symptom of a skin disorder. While drug therapy can help treat skin disorders, following a skin care regimen will keep your skin healthy.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.