Why Are My Cuticle Peeling? Is It Dryness, Infections, Psoriasis or Eczema?

Do you experience peeling cuticles whether on fingers or toes? What are the exact causes it? This can be a bothersome and unsightly condition that can be very embarrassing. Peeling cuticles can also occur alongside intense pain, flaking, and itching. Discover more details on the causes, symptoms, treatments as well as prevention procedures and more


There are wide range causes that can be blamed for cuticle skin peeling or generally peeling skin around nails. Peeled or cracked cuticles can lead to the very harmful condition when the bacteria finds its ways on your body through the cracks.

Remember your hands are often exposed to allergic or irritating conditions and substances. All these can lead to peeling skin around the nails including the cuticles. The cause of peeling cuticles may involve anything to do with environmental elements including wind, heat, excessive humidity or allergens and irritants. Peeling skin can also be a symptom of veiled health condition that we can’t diagnose at home. In this section, we are going to explore some of the common causes. Read about to get more insight.

1.      Dry skin around nails (dry cuticles)

Usually, dry skin is the major cause for many peeling skin problems. Cuticles will often crack, peel and flake when they get dry. Several factors can lead to dry skin. They include excess hand washing or prolonged contact with water, cold or dry weather, application of harsh detergents and soaps or use of nail polish remover. Dry skin also be due to hidden health conditions. Symptoms accompanying dry skin will include redness, pain, peeling, bleeding, cracked fingernails and toenails and can also be accompanied by serious infections as the bacteria finds their ways into the skin through the damaged or peeled cuticles.

2.      Infection around the cuticles

This condition can also be an indication of infection around the nails. Jessica Krant, MD, assistant professor of Dermatology at State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, says that, cuticles peeling could also be a symptom of “low level chronic infection caused by yeast and moisture”. Sometimes you may have yellow stained nails and this could be a clear indication of yeast or fungal infection. “In some cases, peeling skin near the cuticle can be due to a chronic infection, potentially due to moisture or yeast” [medguidance.com]. Such infections can also lead to soft nails or weak nails. Though such infections can be very bothersome, there are several remedies that can be relieve them.

3.      Skin disorders

There are several skin disorders or diseases that can lead to skin peeling on fingers near nails or peeling toenails, such disorders can be due to infections, medical conditions and allergies or something else. Diagnostic test for such skin conditions can also be very hectic since they involve wide range of causes. Below are some of the commonly known skin conditions that can result to cuticle skin peeling:

i.                     Eczema

Eczema or otherwise known as atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that presence as inflamed skin accompanied with dry, itchy skin that can potentially peel. The major causative factors include chemical irritants, allergens and even trauma to the cuticles. Chronic hand eczema can trigger severe condition that can result to peeling nails as well as the cuticles.

ii.                   Psoriasis

According to Webmd.com, psoriasis is “characterized by skin cells that multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. As underlying cells reach the skin’s surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with white scales.” The major affected areas include, elbows, knees, palms, feet, toes, scalp and torso among other body parts. This skin condition has the potential to trigger peeling skin around the nails including the cuticles.

iii.                  Dyshidrosis

Though this is not the main trigger of cuticle skin peeling, it can also contribute to peeling skin around the nails especially in the hands. It can also trigger mild symptoms of this problem.

Generally, when you suffer from peeling cuticles due to skin conditions, the most ideal thing is to define the primary causes by consulting your doctor or dermatologist since some of these conditions cannot be diagnosed at home. Medical experts will do the correct and effective diagnostic test and then employ the most appropriate treatment. Though some of the mild skin condition can be managed at home using some natural home remedies, moderate to severe conditions should be given second thought and taken to medical professionals.

4.      Poor diet

Scanty diet can also be another reason for many peeling skin problems. Lack of some minerals and vitamins in your diet can also be the beginning of the whole menace. According to Skin.knowfacts.org, “The deficiency of certain minerals will cause direct skin dryness, this will probably cause the skin in various parts of the body to flake and peel, this can occur around the nails.”  So you should work closely with your nutritionist to advise you on the effective diet to avoid the risk of developing dry skin due to poor diet.

5.      Allergic reaction

There are numerous allergens that can also lead to this issue or generally peeling skin. Allergic reaction can be due to certain foods, medications or irritants that come into contact with your skin. Such reaction can trigger itching that cam, therefore, results in scratching and hence peeling. If this occurs around the nails and cuticle can also be one of the symptoms.

The best remedy here is to identify substances you are allergic to and try to avoid them. When you diagnose that your cuticle problem is due to allergic reaction, antihistamines can also be prescribed.

6.      Bad behaviors/habits

It can also be due to personal bad habits. Habits such as nervous peeling of cuticles, picking or biting at cuticles and can even trigger certain infections. Over-washing or overworking your hands under harsh condition can as well trigger skin dryness that may eventually lead to fingernail cuticle peeling.

Upon discovering the effects of such habits, you should try to avoid them to be on the safer side of suffering from the symptoms of such poor habits.

7.      Side effects of certain medications

Some medications often sprung some irritating symptoms as their side effects. These symptoms may sometimes include dry nails and skin around the nails. “Some medications also deplete certain nutrients in the body” says Healthguidance.org. For this case, you can check on the known side effects while you just started taking some prescribed medications or over the counter drugs. Some medication are very significant that you can’t just stop taking them, therefore in such instances, you can look for another alternative i.e. you can make sure that you moisturize you hand and feet frequently to relieve the dryness. You should also consult your medical service provider for more alternatives.

8.      Sunburn effect

Prolonged exposure to the sun is another condition that can lead to skin dryness. This can also lead to dry cuticles and hence result in itching and be peeling hard skin around nails. While outside there walking in sun, you should use sunscreens to avoid any pending risk from such burns. You should also make sure you are only exposed to the sun for a limited period. Moisturizing your skin regularly is another best idea here.

9.      Other causes

Apart from the discussed causes, other causes such as sucking of fingers (especially in children), harsh climatic conditions, Hyperthyroidism, Stevens-Johnson syndrome or cuticle skin damage.


There are several symptoms that may occur alongside peeling. These symptoms are grouped into three categories. Those that occur before peeling, those occurring during peeling and those occurring after peeling. The severity of such symptoms will also depend on the underlying causes. Some of the common conditions that may occur with peeling skin include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blistering
  • Burning
  • Dryness and Inflammation
  • Irritation or Itching
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Swelling
  • Thickening
  • Warmth

This condition can also occur alongside other severe symptoms that may be due to serious health conditions. Such symptoms need emergency medical response since they can cost your life. Therefore, you should urgently seek medical care when you or someone else have the following symptoms occurring alongside peeling hard skin around nails (the cuticles):

  • High fever
  • Hives or swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue or throat
  • Joint pain or skin pain
  • Seizure
  • Impaired vision
  • Confusion or change in alertness or consciousness, Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
  • Headache
  • Shedding or sloughing of large sheets of skin
  • Sores, lesions, or blistering rash or blisters
  • Swollen lymph nodes or other signs of infection, such as flu-like symptoms


To effectively treat cuticle problem, you will need to define the true causes of the peeling cuticle and treat them accordingly. The type treatment to be applied will also depend on the age, medical history of a patient as well as the severity of the resultant symptoms. The treatments will range from over the counter drugs or prescribed medications to natural home remedies. In this section, we`ll discuss the most appropriate remedies for this problem.

1.      Medical treatments

Here are some of the medications that can be used to treat it. They involve both over the counter and prescribed medications.

  • Antibacterial and antifungal treatment– in case of cuticle peeling due to infections, antifungals and antibacterial can be used to relieve the resultant symptoms.
  • Antihistamines can also be ideal in case your case is due to allergic reactions. This can also help to calm symptoms such as swelling, inflammation and resultant pain
  • Other treatments may include topical jelly, lotions, creams having various ingredients for treating various skin condition such psoriasis, eczema among others
  • Wax treatments can also be applied to moisturize and heal them

2.      Natural home remedies

There are many home remedies that can be very effective for healing cuticle peeling. Here are what are considered ultimate and wonderful natural treatments for peeling cuticles or peeling nails.

A)      Aloe Vera

This excellent herbal remedy for this condition and other skin conditions. It has got moisturizing and healing characteristics to relieve peeling skin. Here is how to apply this remedy:

  • Get fresh aloe vera gel and squeeze the juice on the cuticles and nails
  • You can then wash it off after 25-30 minutes
  • Repeat this thrice in a week until you get desired result

B)      Olive Oil

Among many remedies for peeling skins, olive oil stands firm among them. It has many healing properties that enables it to be very effective. Here is the procedure to employ this remedy:

  • Add ½ cup of this oil in a minor bowl
  • Heat it gently to melt
  • Add some drops of lavender oil
  • Deep you nails in the warm oil mixture for about 20 minutes
  • Clean your hands using warm water
  • Dry them up and then moisturize
  • Application of this remedy regular will for sure provide positive result

C)      Honey

This ingredient is known to attract moisture to the skin and thus help in moisturizing and relieving dry and peeling ones when you apply it to the skin around your fingers. Easy steps to apply this ingredient include:

  • Massage some raw, organic honey to the affected fingers or cuticles and allow it to sit for 20-25 minutes
  • Then rinse it off using warm water
  • This remedy should be applied 2-3 times daily until you attain your desired result
  • Alternatively, you can mix honey with olive oil and then apply the mixture on the affected cuticles

D)     Cucumber

Application of cucumber to the affected dry cuticle skin can also be another best idea to relieve this condition. According to skincarederm.org:

  • This process can be employed by cutting thick slices of cucumber and rubbing them gently on the affected skin.
  • Make the juice get absorbed well into the skin.
  • Wash the skin area where you have been applying the cucumber with lukewarm water and repeating the process daily until you get your desired results.

E)      Warm Water

Efforts towards limiting chances of developing peeling skin around the nails can also involve application of warm water. You can rinse your hands using warm water for 10 minutes daily.

You can also add lemon juice and honey to warm water and use it to wash your affected cuticles.

There are several home remedies but the above mentioned usually work out effectively. When these home remedies don’t provide positive result, visit you doctor for more medical prescriptions.

When to see a doctor

We have got a wide range of causes leading to this problem, so in order to relieve this condition (peeling cuticle), you will need to have prior knowledge on the fundamental causes. You should also see you doctor or dermatologists as soon as possible when these over the counter medications and home remedies seems not to be effective. Remember peeling cuticles or nail can be attached to very severe concealed health conditions that you can’t diagnose at home. Only your doctor or dermatologist can intervene it.

Our List of References
  1. https://www.newbeauty.com/blog/dailybeauty/10697-how-to-stop-your-cuticles-from-cracking-and-peeling/
  2. http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Your-Cuticle-Skin-from-Peeling
  3. http://multiculturalbeauty.about.com/od/Nails/fl/Your-Questions-Answered-Whatrsquos-Causing-My-Cracked-Cuticles-amp-Skin.htm
  4. https://www.beautyheaven.com.au/forums/help-ive-got-a-beauty-dilemma/dry-and-peeling-cuticles-help
  5. https://www.enkivillage.org/skin-peeling-around-nails.html
  6. https://morenature.com/blogs/nature-news/36242244-natural-home-remedy-treatment-for-dry-cracked-cuticles-skin-on-hands