Makeover Momma

Peeling Skin On Palms Of Hands – Here’s My Story

If you know me and took the time to browse around the website, you probably noticed I like to talk about the topic and problems I personally went through. I feel that this is the way to go as this allows me to understand your frustration better and to identify with your condition on a more personal level.

And peeling skin on palms of hands is one of those topics that’s too close to home…

In this article I’m going to look back on my decade long struggle with peeling skin on the palms of my hands – talk about the possible causes, different treatment options I’ve tried and how well they’ve worked for me.

Why Are The Palms Of My Hands Peeling For No Apparent Reason?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself this question. Even now, more than 10 years after I first started to notice it, a day does not go by without looking at my palms and asking myself why.

I all started when I was back in college, living in a dorm room with two of my roommates.

Possible Cause Number 1 - Chemicals

Since we were living on our own, I would often find myself washing the dishes, clothes, or just tidying up using cleaning products we had at our disposal.

This was when it all started. And to this day, I think some chemical in one of these cleaning products might have caused some sort of an allergic reaction that has affected me to this day.

My doctor had the same initial idea and advised me to start using gloves and regularly moisturize my hands after a washing session.

Unfortunately, this did not have any effect on the skin of my palms that just kept on peeling.

Possible Cause Number 2 – Dirt Making My Skin Dry

I come from an agricultural background and would often find myself in my garden, removing weed, taking care of the plants, and just doing whatever’s needed.

I’ve noticed this before, and my doctor confirmed it – dirt does dry out the skin. Any time I would wash my hands and go back to the house, my hands were so dry it just made the skin peeling even worse.

What I did to remedy this was to apply hand cream and put on gloves; any time I had anything to do with dirt.

And, though this helped (my hands were not as dry as they were), it did not address my primary problem – it did not stop my palms from peeling.

Other Common Causes – Climate, Sun, Overwashing

After ruling out the two most prominent causes, we went further down the list. Next one was the Sun.

Sun exposure did not make any sense to me since it was not the top of my hands that was peeling; it was the palms.

Next, the climate. This also did not make much sense since I’ve been living in the same environment my entire life. I mean, I did move to go to college, but the total distance was some 50 miles, and I’m not sure 50 miles is enough to enter a different climate.

Of course, If you’ve moved to a different region, where the climate is overly dry and hot, your skin might take a toll. What you can do to help yourself is to use a moisturizer after washing your hands/getting out of the shower, use lukewarm water (not hot), and maybe try using a humidifier when indoors.

Overwashing does seem plausible, and if you’ve got peeling skin on your palms, it’s definitely something you should consider. But what is overwashing anyways?

Well, overwashing doesn’t just have to mean you are washing your hands too often; it might indicate a problem with your washing routine. For example:

  • If you are using water that’s too hot
  • If you are using harsh soaps and hand washes that dry out your skin
  • Forgetting to moisturize after you’ve washed your hands

Medical Causes – Allergic Reaction

And not just any allergic reaction, I am talking about a condition called allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition where the red, itchy bumps and skin peeling appears as a result of direct contact between your skin and an allergen.

What is the allergen that can cause this allergic reaction? There are a lot of allergens we come in contact daily. Some of which are:

  • Dirt
  • Plants
  • Latex gloves
  • House cleaning products
  • Skin care products etc.

Now, I don’t know about you, and what does skin peeling on your palms look like, but mine does not resemble an allergic reaction. There is no redness, not a lot of itching; it’s just a constant erosion of the top layer of the skin of my palms.

Medical Causes – Hand Eczema

Ironically, this was not the diagnosis my doctor made… One day I was talking to my pharmacist, looking for a hand cream I haven’t yet tried when she asked me what the problem was.

After I’ve explained what was happening to the skin of my palms and how it was peeling for no apparent reason, she said: “it must be hand eczema.” And, as it turned out, she also had it!

What Is Hand Eczema?

Hand eczema, also known as hand dermatitis, is relatively common in the US population – it is estimated that one in every 10 individuals has it, in varying degrees of severity (source: National Eczema).

An interesting fact on hand eczema is that it is not contagious; you cannot “catch it” from someone or give it to someone else.

What exactly triggers it can’t be determined with 100{285d6d0ec33f832d63ba71e7361dfa254e621171fe0222a0c97ebd34aa916c6a} accuracy, but researchers believe both genetic and environmental factors play a role in “triggering” it.

Some of the main symptoms of this condition are:

  • Skin dryness to the point of peeling
  • Redness
  • Itching and
  • In more severe instances, skin cracking

And one of the worst feelings is experiencing these symptoms one after the other – my palms don’t itch all the time, but there are times when I get this urge to scratch them to the bare bone. I try to fight it, but it’s just so hard I often fail.

And if my skin is already dry and flaky, scratching may sometimes cause it to rupture and crack. I don’t know if it ever happened to you, but the pain sensation is just immense. It feels as though your nerves are exposed, and the slightest touch feels like someone is cutting your hand with a knife.

How Do You Treat It?

And this is where we come to the root cause of my decade long struggle – you can’t cure eczema, per se. The best thing we can do is try to pinpoint the root cause of it and try to avoid it as much as we can.

But what if we can’t? And what is the skin on our palms is peeling for no reason whatsoever?

What I can tell you from my vast experience is… to try and learn to live with it. At this point, I lost all hope I will ever cure my eczema (if it is, in fact, hand eczema). I just learned to manage it. I found a hand cream (after trying dozens) that helps me keep my skin in check; it does not get any better, but it does not allow it to get worse either.

Actually, it’s not the cream itself; it’s one of the ingredients urea. At first, I was using a cream with 5{285d6d0ec33f832d63ba71e7361dfa254e621171fe0222a0c97ebd34aa916c6a} urea, but lately, I’ve been using one with 20{285d6d0ec33f832d63ba71e7361dfa254e621171fe0222a0c97ebd34aa916c6a}. It comes down to your personal preference; what I would suggest is to try a few different ones (with varying percentages), and see which ones work for you the best!

Medical Causes - Exfoliative keratolysis

This is a condition I first thought I had. Its main characteristics are red, dry, and peeling skin.

But, in most cases, exfoliative keratolysis does not make your skin itch. It may also cause small, air-filled blisters to appear on your skin and, after they pop, they leave peeled areas of your skin.

And, one of the main distinctions between it and hand eczema, is that exfoliative keratolysis often causes patches of peeled skin on your soles, in addition to your palms.

I remember one of the first questions my doctor asked me – “Is your skin peeling on your soles as well as your palms?” He never told me why he had asked me that, but it was clear when I found out about this disease.

When To See A Doctor About Your Peeling Palms?

I’m not one to judge since I refused to see a doctor for quite some time after noticing the first symptoms. What I did was apply any old hand cream I could find and wait for it to go away on its own.

This “treatment” lasted for several weeks (can’t remember how many exactly), but only when it started to get worse did I consider getting professional help. Don’t make the same mistakes I did; see a doctor if:

  • You notice the peeling lasting for more than 2 consecutive weeks
  • Your palms get worse as the time goes by
  • You notice clear signs of irritation, redness, and itching

You never know what your doctor might tell you, but it’s always a good idea to seek professional help.

How Do You Stop Your Palms From Peeling?

Let me know if you do 🙂

But seriously, I believe that addressing the early signs, as well as prevention, could have played a major role in my condition. I waited for it to get worse before I decided to take action, and it ended up costing me dearly.

So, what can you do to prevent it:

  • Avoid hot water when washing your hands
  • Apply moisturizer after washing your hands
  • Use natural, pH balanced products, that do not contain harmful ingredients
  • Use gloves when dealing with potential allergens
  • Use urea hand cream for added hydration

Diet And Peeling Of The Palms Of Your Hands

Changing my diet to try and address the skin peeling on my hands is not something I was ever recommended, but I stumbled upon it by accident.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with candida. I’m not going to talk about candida in this article, but what you should know is that treating it requires implementing a crazy diet. At one point, I did not consume any sugars (sweets, sodas… pretty much anything that contains sugar), products which had white flower, dairy products, and alcohol.

It was a scary diet, and I lost quite a bit of weight sticking to it. But, during this time I noticed one interesting side effect it had on me… my palms started to clear up. I wanted to test it and see if it was really down to the diet, so I stopped using hand cream altogether. For two weeks straight I did not put ANYTHING on my palms… And they were getting better!

Unfortunately, the diet is so restrictive (I think it might even be a bit harmful), it’s tough sticking to it. From time to time I would slip and eat a candy bar… a cookie (one cookie)… a sandwich… and slowly, but surely, the skin on my palms started to peel again.

I wanted to go back to the diet, but I would always slip… Plus, I’m not sure eating that way for longer periods is even healthy. Over the course of only 2 months, I lost more than 20 pounds (and I was already a relatively skinny guy). So I had to choose between trying to heal the skin on my palms and my overall health. I went for the latter; but, I haven’t given up on the idea of dieting, I’d like to give it another go.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts:

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with peeling skin on palms of your hands. What have you tried so far, what worked, are you still struggling?

Igor Marcikic

I've struggled with acne and oily skin for the better part of my life. Along the way, I've picked up some valuable information, tips, and tricks, which helped me manage my "situation." This website is a way of giving back and trying to help others like me! Enjoy your stay, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

  • I had exactly the same problem. I stopped eating gluten and dairy products and I got back excellent skin on my hands again in about 2 months. It’s 2 years now since I have changed my diet. My throat and ears stopped being itchy since then too, but this is rather related to dairy than gluten or sugar. I wonder now if exfoliative keratolysis is the result of consuming dairy itself.

    • Hey Wojtek,

      Thank’s for stopping by! Yes, I had the exact same experience when I was on my “candida diet,” but I love dairy products so much, it’s difficult for me to stay on track.

      Hopefully, I’ll give it another go soon and update this article.

      And as for the link between exfoliative keratolysis and dairy… I have yet to find some scientific studies addressing this issue, but we might gather some anecdotal evidence at least, if more people report the same findings as you and me.

      All the best,

  • This is an older article so I’m not sure if you’ll see this to reply but what hand soaps would you recommend?

    • Hi Kim,

      Yes, it is an older article but we moderate everything as much as the time allows. As for the soap, I actually have a guy close to where I live who makes gentle, homemade soaps, so I usually buy these. And if he does not have anything in stock, I buy goat milk soap. Mind you, these do not smell the best (in case you want to use it when taking a bath, for example), but they are gentle enough and do not make my skin overly dry.


  • I experience the palm peeling at the beginning of every summer.
    It looks ugly but it doesn’t hurt or bleed. It usually goes away in 3 to 4 weeks. I use Dial for Men hand/body cream to soften up the palms and make the peeling less visual. Hope it helps you too.

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