Peeling hands can be the result of dryness, exposure to toxins, or an underlying medical problem. The best treatment depends on the cause, and it is important for patients to receive a medical evaluation if the peeling is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms like rashes. Some basic treatments for peeling skin can be a good start for a patient who is not sure about whether peeling is a cause for medical concern.
Patients with peeling hands should evaluate their environment for possible causes. The peeling may be the result of not wearing gloves around hazards or could be caused by severe dry skin. Moisturizing hand soap to keep the hands clean without stripping oils from the skin is a good idea, as is patting the hands dry thoroughly after washing. If water stays on the skin, it can promote the development of dry skin. Deep, intensive skin moisturizers may limit dryness and prevent peeling; it can be helpful to wear these to bed to give them several hours to work without interruption.
It is advisable to watch for warning signs like intense itching, tight skin, redness, bumps, and cracks that ooze white, clear, or red fluids. These can indicate that the peeling is not just a surface problem, and it may become worse if the patient does not receive appropriate treatments. Patients may also want to consider causes like sun exposure. Sometimes the hands do not appear burned, but they are sun-damaged, and they may start to peel within a few days of spending a prolonged period of time in the sun.
If measures like changing soaps, reducing exposure to toxins, and moisturizing are not effective, peeling hands may be the result of a medical problem. The patient should see a dermatologist to discuss the issue. The dermatologist can examine the hands, take scrapings, and assess other symptoms to determine the cause. He may recommend medications and topical creams to address both the peeling and the issue that is causing it.
When patients prepare for a visit to the doctor for peeling hands, they should compile as much information as possible. Any new medications should be noted, as skin peeling can be a side effect of some drugs, and patients should also mention any changes in their diet, living environment, or workspace. A change of career, for example, might explain the peeling hands; sometimes the answer is as simple as the soap in the bathroom at a new job.