Vitality

Skin Peeling Off? What It Could Indicate

Wondering why the skin on your hands or feet have been breaking and peeling off lately?

For the most, it is likely just a harmless case of dry skin which can occur due to seasonal changes or lack of moisture. But here are a few other conditions that might need just a little more attention.

Eczema

Eczema is a condition which affects the ability of the skin to protect itself, allowing for easy damage. Depending on the individual, one may experience peeling (often on the hands, which is known as hand eczema) as a response to triggers such as sweat, cold air, hot showers, soaps, fabrics, detergents, fragrances, and pollen.

Certain professions may involve higher exposure to triggers, examples including construction workers, hair stylists, chefs, plumbers, etc. If you suspect you may have this condition, it is important to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. After diagnosis, you may be asked to find a way to avoid your triggers and also use barrier repair cream or moisturizers to treat the damaged skin.

Sunburn

Have you been spending time in the sun lately? Chances are your peeling is a sign of a sunburn, especially if you skipped on using sunscreen or did not apply it the right way.

"There are different severities of sunburn," said Dr. Gabriel Neal, a clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine. "If your skin is peeling, then it’s a mild to moderate sunburn."

The peeling may take anywhere from a couple of days to a whole week before it stops. Do not attempt to peel the skin off yourself as this could increase chances of scarring. Apart from sunscreen, at-risk individuals should also opt for other forms of sun protection such as staying under the shade or wearing hats.

Athlete's foot

This is a type of fungal infection which, as the name suggests, affects a person's feet. It commonly starts with a flaky rash on the outermost toes which could also spread to the soles, toenails, or the sides of the feet. Peeling of the skin can occur along with itchiness and a stinging sensation.

Wearing a closed shoe, accompanied with sweat, can lead to these symptoms.

"When you put your foot into a closed shoe, it really acts like a cooker because it's a warm dark moist area and so it actually cooks your foot," said Mark Hinkes, DPM, a podiatrist. 

But one is also at risk of infection if he or she shares socks and shoes, walks in public places barefoot, has a foot injury, etc. Hinkes recommended seeing a podiatrist to make sure the underlying cause was not diabetes or weak immunity.

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