My hands and feet are peeling and I have no idea what to do about it.
October 23, 2013 9:12 PM   Subscribe

My hands and feet are peeling, and I am at a loss for what to try, and my dermatologist can't see me for weeks. Halp!

It used to be that my heels would crack and peel in the summer, I assume from running around in flip flops all the time. But lately, I have dry patches all over my feet, and lots of peeling. It doesn't itch or blister, it just dries out, and then peels off. I thought maybe it was athlete's foot, but I've been treating for that for several weeks without any improvement. then, lately, it has started on my hands - the skin feels tight, then peels off. I called my dermatologist, but they are scarce in this area, and are booking well into next month. Is this something I should go to my GP over? Some other way to try to treat it? It's embarrassing!

Other potentially relevant details: I wear cotton socks, change my shoes, wash and dry my feet at least once a day, I have a seven month old, I take vitamin D, Magnesium Oxide, and 50 mg. of Zoloft at night. Help!?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The air is very dry right now, so you could try some seriously moisturizing ointment like aquaphor. I would also recommend going to a nail salon and getting a paraffin mani/pedi (yes, even if you are a man or a woman who hates primping-- you don't have to get polish). They will exfoliate and sand off the dry stuff and then coat you in paraffin and let it penetrate and moisturize you for a while.
But go to the dermatologist when you can just to be sure it isn't something weird.
posted by rmless at 9:38 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd take photos and E-mail them to the doctor's office with the words "what do I do?"
posted by Ironmouth at 9:41 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

This happens to me periodically because my palms and soles are sweaty.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:50 PM on October 23, 2013

I would try calling the dermatologist office and tell them it's urgent and that you need to be fit in. It is amazing what you can do when you sweet-talk the scheduling person.Just elaborate on how uncomfortable you are, how persistent the symptoms are, etc.
posted by radioamy at 10:09 PM on October 23, 2013

I have had this happen to me after using a harsh cleaner in my shower, particularly ones with bleach.
posted by daikaisho at 10:39 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had this happen when I was breastfeeding (which I am guessing you might be?) and saw several doctors about it; the consensus was, it was physical stress from breastfeeding, stay hydrated and use lots of aquaphor. It cleared up within a week or two of weaning, and the whole process repeated with child #2. Feel free to memail me if you want tedious specifics on my 9 million doctor visits and failed dermatological creams!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am not a dermatologist but I get this periodically and have done throughout my life. I used to think it was related to the seasonal change because it only happened in spring/autumn but I also have a vague memory of having had it in the summer once as a child. Anyway, I figure I'm just part reptile and am shedding my skin. If it hurts or bothers you, book in to see a dermatologist. Otherwise I'd just moisturise a bit extra and try not to stress.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:10 AM on October 24, 2013

This used to happen to me every fall and spring. I assumed I grew out of it. Something changed, anyway.

If it hurts and you can get to urgent care or a clinic, by all means, get it checked out. If it doesn't hurt, you can wait for an appointment. I don't think you're in any danger, but I am not a doctor.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:17 AM on October 24, 2013

My partner has this issue and has had many prescription creams, etc. He found O'Keeffe's Working Hands really good and it's inexpensive to boot. Might be worth a try until you get to see your dermatologist.

My feet used to crack until I switched to merino wool socks but I have no idea if the two things are related. Wool cuts down on the feet sweat for me.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:31 AM on October 24, 2013

Any chance that you are consuming excessive amounts of beta carotene or vitamin A? Unlikely, but vitA toxicity can cause peeling skin starting at the extremities. Just checking a zebra.
posted by spitbull at 5:59 AM on October 24, 2013

Hydration. American women are, I am told, notorious for complaining about dry skin and overusing moisturizing lotions instead of drinking water.

Whatever else might be going on - and it's probably nothing - if you have dry skin try drinking more water and less caffeine, especially coffee..

Call the dermatologist again - surely they have patients who cancel.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:58 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aside from all the good advice above, try talking to your pharmacist! They are surprisingly well equipped to deal with stuff like this, especially as a stop-gap before your derm appointment.
posted by Kololo at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2013

I once went through a period of time where my scalp started flaking dramatically when i'd never had a flake before. It took me some time to realize that it was because i'd started taking more baths and it was drying out my skin. Have you had a similar change in routine?

My hands get really dry and cracked. Things that have helped: drinking lots more water, buying better quality hand soap (seriously), wearing gloves when cleaning or when washing dishes, building a collection if great gloves (mine are leather) to wear outside when its remotely chilly, and keeping tubes of high quality hand cream everywhere that might remind me to use it (purse, living room, bathroom). Kiehls has a great hand salve, for instance. Maybe some of these ideas will help you too
posted by cacao at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2013

Seconding Working Hands and the foot version, Working Feet. I have extremely dry skin all over in the winter and also keep a tube of Miracle of Aloe Miracle Hand Repair at my desk to use after I wash my hands, which my husband and I lovingly call hand spackle as it seems to fill in all the cracking skin and soften everything. We find it at Bed, Bath & Beyond; I'm not sure where else it's sold.

My feet peel the way yours are doing once or twice a year, and have done so my whole life.
posted by telophase at 12:04 PM on October 24, 2013

It's not contact dermatitis is it? When I get that, my hands get all peely. I got it from cutting a butternut squash (despite the fact that I didn't get it before) and now I have to wear gloves when I cut them.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:16 PM on October 24, 2013

Is it possible you've been exposed to any kinds of chemicals (in whatever form) or other substances that might have absorbed into your body and be causing this?
posted by Dansaman at 12:25 PM on October 24, 2013

I have been known to get this. Do your hands and feet get tiny bumpy "fluid" blisters right before an outbreak? They may or may not itch, and they're small and quite hard to see, so you might not notice, but if you do it sounds like dishydrosis to me. The good news is it's not contagious and isn't anything more than a nuisance. The bad news is, mine is exacerbated by sweating, so if you're seeing them in the summer that could be why.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2013

Also, mine is preceeding by a distinct and, in my experience, unique feeling of "tightness" on the hands and feet.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you can get into the GP sooner, do that, if only for peace of mind.

But my son gets the same thing you're describing...his hands and feet flake off certain times of the year, it is the strangest thing.

I had him drink more water, I changed laundry detergent to the no-additive kind, did a massive dust busting of the house, got him a HEPA air filter for his bedroom, and then gobs of Aquaphor covering his hands and feet at night. Within a few weeks it cleared up. Maybe allergies, maybe dehydrated, maybe he's part lizard (I have my suspicions), but it did go away.
posted by kinetic at 2:54 PM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check your hand soaps to see if they contain triclosan. That causes these kinds of issues for people.

Also, if you use any of the oatmeal types of lotions, try switching to something non-oatmeal based.
posted by gjc at 12:07 AM on October 25, 2013

I've had cracked heels for several years, and someone recommended Flexitol foot cream. I think any foot cream with a high percentage of urea would work. I swear, this is one of my few health-and-beauty experiences where the product worked exactly as promised. My feet looked exactly like the "before" picture on the box when I started, and exactly like the "after" picture at two weeks. The only other thing I did was to exfoliate my heels when the cracked skin started getting softer. Definitely a miracle cream for me.
posted by instamatic at 5:58 PM on October 26, 2013

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