Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is peeling a sign of dry skin?"
The skin on my hands and feet peels every once in a while. This happens to all the women inn my family, but I have it the worst. Is this just a matter of dry skin, or is there another problem?
Skin desquamation (peeling) is a common condition which can have multiple causes. Skin that peals every once in a while is usually benign usually just means the skin is dry. Simple emollients (moisturizers) can help with this. Desquamation can be associated with more serious illnesses, but these usually have other dominant concurrent symptoms. Your primary care physician can evaluate you skin when its peeling and know whether or not to refer you to a dermatologist. Most of the time, skin peeling happens after a sunburn. However, it can be a sign of other diseases such as hand foot and mouth disease, a viral infection in kids. It can also be a sign of a serious illness called Kawasaki's disease which can cause cardiovascular disease in kids. Finally, there are a whole host bacterial infections that can manifest as skin desquamation, but these carry with it severe symptoms of fever and general illness. If you symptoms bother you and simple moisturizers aren't helping, then I would suggest you see your family doctor during one of the episodes to show him or her the severity of your peeling and may be able to give you an official diagnosis with your family history in mind. Good luck.
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