Have you ever noticed the skin around your nails peeling off? Though it is a very common problem during climate change, there can also be other reasons behind it, such as environmental irritants, allergies, certain skin conditions, etc.
This article will discuss different causes of fingertips peeling, how you can treat the condition, and other preventive measures in detail.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Says
‘’Twak sphutana - Cracking of skin, in Ayurveda can occur due to the following reasons. a) Rakta dhatu kshaya: Depletion of blood tissue (anemia) can cause the skin to crack and peel. b) Vata Kapha Dosha aggravation: Skin hydration gets hampered when Vata owing to its drying action dries it up. Kapha too thickens the texture of Rasa (Lymph), preventing it from reaching the fine interstitial spaces to hydrate. The Vata-Kapha aggravation can be seasonal, humoral, or diet-linked. ‘’
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Does Fingertips Peeling Mean?
Fingertips peeling is a condition in which the upper layer of your skin or epidermis around the nails becomes dry and eventually starts to peel off. Sometimes, it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as itchiness, rash, redness, inflammation, etc.
In most cases, it is not a serious concern but it can be uncomfortable while performing your daily tasks using fingers. However, it can also be associated with other medical conditions, which may need a timely diagnosis.
What Causes Fingertips Peeling?
‘’Twak sphutana - Cracking of skin, in Ayurveda can occur due to the following reasons.
Rakta dhatu kshaya: Depletion of blood tissue (anemia) can cause the skin to crack and peel.
b) Vata Kapha Dosha aggravation: Skin hydration gets hampered when Vata owing to its drying action dries it up. Kapha too thickens the texture of Rasa (Lymph), preventing it from reaching the fine interstitial spaces to hydrate. The Vata-Kapha aggravation can be seasonal, humoral, or diet-linked’’, says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Let’s understand different categories of factors that cause feeling tips peeling:
A. Environmental Factors
1. Frequent Hand-Washing
Washing your hands repetitively using harsh soaps and hot water can result in a compromised skin barrier, leading to skin peeling around your fingertips.
Though hand-washing is essential to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, using harsh soaps can strip off the protective natural oils in your skin, which can result in soap dermatitis or dry skin.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, frequent hand washing and excessive use of hand sanitizer cause dryness in the skin, which increases the risk of picking up germs.
Dry weather conditions in winters or higher altitudes can cause the skin around nails to crack and peel off. Sometimes, you may also experience peeling fingertips in the summer months due to excessive sweating or if any irritants are present in sunscreens.
When your skin is exposed to harmful sun rays for a long time, it results in sunburns . The affected areas of your skin turn red, feel warm and tender to the touch. After a few days or weeks, the skin in the affected areas starts to peel.
Infants or toddlers usually have a habit to suck their thumbs. This can cause the skin around the thumb to become dry and peel. While some kids grow out of this habit naturally with age, some children need a little more intervention.
5. Harsh Chemicals
Certain chemicals used in soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, and other skincare products or cosmetics can irritate your skin around the nails and cause peeling fingertips.
B. Underlying Conditions
6. Hand Eczema
Atopic dermatitis or general inflammation on the skin can sometimes lead to hand eczema . When someone has hand eczema, the person may experience irritated palm skin, which cracks and peels off. Also, the skin turns red, becomes tender to the touch, and itches a lot.
‘’Besides your hands getting exposed to certain substances or chemicals, your genes may also play a significant role in causing hand eczema,” says Dr. Zeel.
Studies found that in about 15.8% of the people infected with hand eczema, the condition prevailed for one year. Also, it affects women twice as often as it affects men.
7. Exfoliative Keratolysis
Usually, exfoliative keratolysis  occurs in summers. In this skin condition, the skin of your palms and soles feels dry, cracked, forms blisters, and eventually peels off. Using harsh cleansers or soaps can aggravate the condition.
9. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
If a product you are allergic to comes in contact with your fingertips, the skin near your nails can start peeling. Nickel-based jewelry, poison ivy, latex-based products, etc. can cause contact dermatitis in your skin, resulting in blisters in your skin which finally peels off.
10. Kawasaki Disease
Kawasaki disease  is a condition that primarily affects children under the age of 5. It is a rare condition, in which the symptoms appear in three different stages over several weeks.
In the first stage, the child may have a high fever lasting for 5 or more days. In the second stage, the infected child starts experiencing peeling fingertips. In the last stage, the palms and soles of the feet become red and swollen.
As per the researchers from the Department of Pediatrics, Advanced Pediatrics Centre, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India, skin peeling at fingertips is usually seen after day 10 of the onset of fever in Kawasaki disease.
See your doctor immediately if your child is experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms.
11. Niacin (Vitamin B-3) Deficiency Or Vitamin A Toxicity
Poor diet and lack of sufficient niacin or vitamin B-3 levels in your body can result in a condition called pellagra, which can lead to dermatitis problems in your skin.
Researchers found that niacinamide up-regulates the epidermal ceramide synthesis, which plays a central role in the structural and functional integrity of the skin barrier.
Also, if you consume vitamin A above what your body needs, then it can also result in irritated skin along with other symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
In both scenarios, you may experience peeling of the irritated skin around the nails. Your doctor can guide you with proper vitamin supplementation and diet to address the niacin deficiency or hypervitaminosis A depending on what's causing your symptoms.
Fingertips Peeling Treatment
A. Home Remedies
Apply honey to your peeling fingertips using a cotton ball. Leave it for half an hour and then rinse it off using cold water. Repeat this thrice a day.
Honey is a natural humectant, which can help your skin absorb and retain moisture from the environment. It treats the peeling fingertips with deep nourishment and hydration.
Add a spoon of honey into a small bowl of warm milk. Mix the ingredients well and dip your peeled fingertips into it for 10-15 minutes. Later, wash your fingers and pat them dry gently. You can repeat this remedy once daily.
The micronutrients present in the milk helps to soften your skin texture and improve the collagen production around the nails.
3. Oats Scrub
Add a spoon of oats to a small cup of warm milk and let them soak. Dip your peeling fingers in it for 10 minutes and gently exfoliate the peeled skin around your nails using the oats. Wash your hands, pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer. Do this once every day.
Oats are a perfect remedy to treat dry or irritated skin. Besides boosting collagen production, oats help to reduce the inflammation in your skin.
4. Aloe Vera
Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel to your peeled fingertips and massage them gently for a few minutes. Do this twice a day.
Aloe vera provides intense moisturization and hydration to your damaged and dry skin around the nails. Also, it helps in controlling the pain and irritation in peeled fingertips with its effective cooling and soothing properties.
5. Natural Oils
Applying natural oils such as coconut, olive, castor, jojoba, sunflower seed, almond or sesame oil can save your fingertips from drying and peeling off.
Natural oils contain rich fatty acids that nourish and moisturize your skin effectively. They also help to maintain the hydration and lipid levels in the skin barrier.
Vedix Tip: Always do a patch test before applying any oil to your skin. If you do not experience any reaction within 48 hours of the patch test, then you can continue using it for your peeling fingertips.
B. Other Treatments
1. Topical Steroids
Doctors may prescribe topical creams or lotions to treat peeling fingertips caused by certain skin conditions. These topical medications contain antiproliferative, immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, and blood vessel-constricting compounds which can help in treating the condition.
Your doctor may also suggest antibiotics if the fingertips peeling is caused by any bacterial infection.
Antihistamines such as Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), etc. can be prescribed by your doctor if the fingertips peeling is caused by allergies. These drugs control the production of histamine, which causes an allergic reaction and peeling in your skin.
How To Prevent Fingertips From Peeling?
Some preventive measures that can help avoid skin peeling around the nails include:
- Avoid using skin products containing drying or harsh chemicals. Also, wear protective gloves on your hands while using any harsh cleaning products.
- It is necessary to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet including all the essential nutrients to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
- Never miss applying moisturizer in your everyday skincare routine. Always carry a small moisturizer bottle with you and apply it whenever necessary, especially while you step out in cold weather conditions.
- Drink adequate water daily to prevent your skin from getting dry and peeling off.
- Hot water can also aggravate skin dryness and may result in peeling. Hence, avoid your fingertips getting in contact with hot water.
- Also, avoid using harsh sanitizers multiple times a day if the skin at your fingertips is sensitive. You can opt for mild or herbal alternatives instead.
- Try using topical emollients for your skin if it feels dry and itchy. This can prevent the skin from peeling.
- Do not expose your skin to any allergens that can cause contact dermatitis.
When To See A Doctor About Fingertips Peeling?
You may need to visit your doctor if the skin peeling around your fingertips does not improve within a week of treating it with home remedies, OTC products, or pain relievers. Medical professionals can help with an appropriate treatment plan by diagnosing the actual cause of your condition.
Also, consult your doctor immediately if you are experiencing severe symptoms like difficulty breathing or intense pain accompanied by the skin peeling around the nails.
The Last Word
Skin peeling around the fingertips is one of the most common problems. While in most cases it can be painless, some people may experience irritation and pain during performing daily activities.
Natural home remedies can help you treat the peeling skin around your fingertips effectively. Consult your doctor if the condition doesn't get resolved, despite taking regular home treatments.
At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic skincare regimen for you by understanding your skin type and its specific needs.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Why Does My Skin Peel When I Get Sunburned, and What Should I Do About It? (May-2020), Sun and Skin News
2. Medical surveillance - Formaldehyde, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, USDL
3. Hand Eczema, National Eczema Association
4. Keratolysis exfoliativa, Dermnet
5. When Psoriatic Disease Strikes the Hands and Feet, National Psoriasis Foundation
6. Recurrent Peeling of Skin Following Post-Streptococcal Atypical Kawasaki Disease (Jan-2019), International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics
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