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Help for Peeling Skin — and the MD-Recommended Lotion that Prevents It

Plus, the surprising pantry staple that can speed healing

If you’ve been tempted to hide your hands, maybe even contemplating stuffing them into gloves even in warm weather, because the skin on your fingertips is peeling near your nails, you’re not alone. Whether the peeling is on one or two fingers or your whole hand, skin peeling on your fingertips can generate pangs of self-consciousness and fear that something serious might be wrong. Read on to learn common causes of skin peeling on fingertips and how you can quickly restore your skin’s healthy appearance.

Top causes of peeling skin on fingertips

Peeling skin on your fingers around your nails occurs when the upper layer of skin (the epidermis) around the nails becomes dry and eventually starts to peel off, explains dermatologist Jennifer L. Maender, MD, of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “It can occur on any finger, or several at a time, and sometimes be accompanied by itchiness, rash, redness or inflammation.”

Experts agree that, in most cases, this is not a serious concern. But it can be embarrassing and it can make daily tasks that require the use of your fingers uncomfortable.

Some health conditions can cause the skin on your fingers to peel, says dermatologist T N Rekha Singh, MD, a certified skin specialist at Oliva Skin and Hair Clinic. “Eczema, an inflammatory skin condition that also causes itching and rashes, or psoriasis, an autoimmune disease characterized by itchy, scaly patches, along with nail fungal infections or deficiencies in vitamins, especially B-7 (biotin), are common health-related culprits.” (Click through for the DIY scrub that healed one woman’s eczema.)

But there are plenty of other everyday reasons you might experience skin peeling around the nails.

Washing your hands with harsh soaps

Sulfates, a popular ingredient in hand soaps, do a great job of stripping away grease, dirt and oils — along with germs — from your hands. “But these harsh soaps, or frequently washing your hands with any soap, strip your skin’s natural protective oils, drying out skin to make it more susceptible to peeling,” says Dr. Maender. Soaps with perfumes or dyes can also cause irritation or an allergic reaction, which prompts skin peeling.

The simple fix? Opt for sulfate-free soap (Buy a two-pack on Amazon for $21.69) and steer clear of hand sanitizers that contain alcohol, an ingredient Dr. Singh says is very drying to the skin and can cause peeling around the nails. “Hand sanitizers with perfumes or dyes may also cause irritation that triggers skin peeling.” No need to forgo sanitizing altogether. Instead, simply switch to an alcohol-free hand sanitizer (Get a six-pack on Amazon for $16.99). And click through for more information on healing dry hands caused by overwashing.

Finally, keep your hands safe from irritants by wearing kitchen gloves whenever you’re doing chores that require you to get your hands wet, like scrubbing a pan, or expose your hands to cleaning products, like when you’re cleaning the bathroom. “Avoiding direct contact with harsh chemicals by wearing gloves can be very helpful to maintaining healthy skin on your hands,” explains Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami and medical reviewer at My Psoriasis Team.

Nail biting

Biting your nails or picking at a hang nail can compromise the health of your cuticles and nails. “Damaged cuticles can lead to a skin infection and possibly skin peeling around the nail,” says Dr. Maender. (Click through for a drugstore cure for nail biting.)


Temperatures indoors, as well as outdoors, play a big role in the health and texture of your skin, says Dr. Singh, who tells us low-humidity conditions can drain the moisture from your skin, leaving it prone to peeling. “Dry winters and cold temperatures frequently dry out your skin, but spending several days indoors with the air conditioning running in the summer can also dry out your skin because it removes moisture from the air.” (Click through to find out if your air conditioner is making you sick)


It’s possible to develop an allergy to soap, nail polish or detergents that can cause the skin on your fingers around your nails to peel. What’s more, Dr. Chacon says, “skin peeling may be a result of an allergic reaction to these products — even if it’s a product you’ve used for years.”

How to treat peeling skin around your nails

These simple home remedies can be effective in preventing and treating peeling skin so you can bare your hands beautifully! (Click through for easy DIY fruit nail designs.)

Stay hydrated

Moisturize your skin from the inside out, says Dr. Chacon. “Keep a water bottle on hand to promote drinking water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration in your skin – and the rest of your body.” (Click through to learn how a motivational water bottle can help you drink more water.)

Slather on moisturizer

“Daily use of moisturizers like Aquaphor Healing Ointment (buy on Amazon, $15.97 for a 14-oz. jar) or Aveeno Eczema Therapy Rescue Relief (buy on Amazon, $13.99 for 5 oz.) make it far less likely your skin will become dry enough to peel,” says Dr. Maender. And Dr. Singh recommends applying a natural moisturizer, like aloe vera or coconut oil, to the affected area regularly and especially after washing your hands. “Rubbing up to a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil into your hands also keeps them moisturized with natural oils to restore, or promote, proper hydration.”

Improve your air quality

Increasing overall moisture in the air in your home can prevent your skin from drying out. Indeed, Dr. Chacon says this is especially important when you’re running the furnace or air conditioner, as either can strip moisture from your skin. “Adding a humidifier to your home or office can greatly reduce dry skin to lessen the skin on your fingers peeling.”

Reach for honey

With a clean cotton ball, dab a few drops of honey on the skin peeling near your nails and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing with cold water. Honey is a natural humectant — a substance that creates a barrier on your skin to lock in moisture. And a study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that honey boasts a strong anti-inflammatory effect to soothe and hydrate irritated skin and promote healing.

Try an oatmeal soak

Research suggests that phenols and vitamin E in oatmeal are powerful anti-inflammatories that, in addition to moisturizing your skin, offer a protective benefit to soothe irritated skin, too. Bonus: Compounds in oatmeal called saponins are also terrific exfoliants that slough away dirt, oil and dead skin cells. Dr. Singh suggests adding a spoon of oats to a small cup of warm milk and soaking your fingers in it for 10 minutes to gently exfoliate the peeled skin around your nails. Rinse your hands and pat them dry, then apply an oatmeal-based lotion like Aveeno Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion (buy on Amazon for $8.97).

Looking for more healthy nail news? Keep scrolling!

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What Causes Dents in Fingernails and How Do I Get Rid of Them?

If You See This on Your Nails, It Could Be a Sign You Have Diabetes

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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