Why is the skin on my feet peeling?Saturday, March 26, 2016
PEELING skin on the feet is a very common problem that I see in my office. We define the condition as damage to and loss of the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
The skin will often appear dry and flaky and is often accompanied by a rash, itching and dryness.
There are numerous causes of peeling skin on the feet, ranging from allergies, infection, auto immune disease, oedema, environmental factors, and other diseases.
The most common cause I see is due to fungal infections or athlete’s foot. This can occur between the toes or on sole and upper section of the foot. This condition has to be treated holistically, where we look not only at the skin but also how the patient has caught the infection and devise ways to prevent reinfection.
Another common cause is contact dermatitis, where the patient has used a detergent, particular shoe material or hosiery.
Harsh environment factors like humidity, sun, heat, and wind can also cause peeling.
Dry or atrophic skin will peel on the feet, and indeed on the whole body. Some people just have dry skin and have to use a large amount of creams and lotions to keep the skin hydrated and to prevent peeling.
Examples of less common conditions and diseases are: Cutaneous T cell lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; psoriasis, staph infections; Scarlet fever; Kawasaki disease (a rare childhood disease that affects blood vessels); hookworm; ringworm.
Syndromes like toxic shock, which is an extreme allergic reaction; Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which is a rare disorder of the skin and mucous membranes; and acral peeling skin syndrome are rare but shouldn’t be ruled out.
Allergic reactions to some medications may also cause skin to peel, so you should always read the leaflet that comes with your medication to see whether this is likely to happen.
It is of paramount importance that you get the correct diagnosis so that the appropriate treatment can be given. Don’t ignore the symptoms and hope they go away as this is unlikely.
If self-treatment is pursued, the underlying condition may progress. It is advised that you always consult with your doctor.
Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293-7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.
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