Why are my fingertips peeling?

In this brief blog, we will address the query,”Why are my fingertips peeling?” We will discuss the various factors that can result in your fingertips peeling.

Why are my fingertips peeling?

There are various factors that can result in your fingertips peeling, some of which are washing hands frequently, sunburn, the climate, chemicals, sucking fingers and also underlying conditions.

Let us take an indepth look at them.

Frequent hand washing

Frequent washing of hands is a known cause of fingertip peeling. Frequently washing your hands using soap can result in the lipid barrier on the surface of the skin wearing off. This then results in the soap being absorbed in the underlying sensitive parts of the skin which ultimately results in the skin peeling off and also irritation.

Other factors such as hot water, not using a hand moisturizer on your hands after washing them and also using irritating paper can as well affect the skin.

To minimize such effects make use of gentle and dermatological products to wash your hands.

This should however not be an excuse to stop washing your hands because handwashing is an effective way of reducing the risk of spreading germs such as the coronavirus which causes Covid-19

Always make sure that you wash your hands after entering your house when you come from outside, before having meals, before and after handling any raw foods such as meat or in any situations that could possibly have led to contamination of your hands.

Take care to always use moisturizer after washing them to prevent drying out of the hands and subsequently peeling.

Handling products with harsh chemicals

There are certain chemicals that are added to commonly used products such as shampoos, soaps, moisturizers and other cosmetics and they can result in skin irritation and cause fingertips peeling.

Some of the common irritants are:

  • cocamidopropyl betaine
  • antibacterial ointments
  • preservatives like formaldehyde
  • fragrances
  • isothiazolinones

Not all of these chemicals may react with your body as this is dependent on the individual. The only way to determine which ones react is by doing a patch test.

However, always take care to steer clear of any harsh chemicals and opt for products that are marketed for sensitive skin as they are free of any skin irritants and fragrances.


If you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time this can result in sunburn. Sunburn damages the skin via the Ultraviolet (UV) rays and this causes the skin to become red, warm, sore and tender and then it starts to peel or flake.

Most sunburns are never serious and can resolve in 7 days or so, however you should note that sunburns can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

If you have sunburn, stay away from the sun and ensure that you use lotions with ingredients such as aloe vera so as to keep the skin moisturized during the healing process.

Ensure that you also regularly wear and apply sunscreen so as to avoid sunburn.


Finger or thumb sucking is a key cause of dry and peeling skin among young children. Many children usually grow out of this habit which can result in painful sores and peeling of the fingertips.

Some children however do require intervention and monitoring so as to stop. Some adults are also known to suck or chew fingers as a stress response or just out of habit.

Climate reactions to either cold and hot weather

Different climates such as dry and winter temps can result in dry, cracked and flaking of the skin.

You can however prevent such dry skin effects by:

  • Ensuring that you use a humidifier when there’s heat on
  • using a skin moisturizer or a thick ointment after taking a shower.
  • wearing comfortable and loose-fitting clothes
  • Staying away from hot baths and showers

Fingertips can also peel during the summer months. This can be as a result of excessive sweating or irritant ingredients which are in bug sprays and sunscreen.

What underlying conditions can cause fingertips to peel?

Hand eczema

Hand eczema is said to affect about 10 percent of the people in the United States. This may be caused by genetics or when coming in contact with an allergen or an irritant.

There are people in certain industries who are more vulnerable such as:

  • Cleaning industry
  • Healthcare industry
  • Catering industry
  • Mechanics industry

Exfoliative keratolysis

Exfoliative keratolysis is another common skin condition that can result in peeling of the skin. It is mostly known to occur in summer months and is more frequent in young adults.

It can cause superficial air-filled blisters that appear on the fingertips and even burst and leave peeled areas. These areas of the skin can become red, dry and cracked but are not usually itchy.

Exfoliative keratolysis can be exacerbated by conditions such as exposure to irritants such as soaps, detergents and solvents.


In this brief blog, we have addressed the query,”Why are my fingertips peeling?” We have discussed various factors that can result in your fingertips peeling.



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