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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes peeling hands, feet and lips?

    4 year old daughter recently showed signs similar to her mothers - peeling lips, hands, feet and scalp. I would like help finding a single health professional who will stay with us for the long haul and help find the reason for these issues. I (the mother) have seen many many many people in the past 20 years seeking an answer and gave up until my daughter just showed these same symptoms.
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  • 3

    Thanks

    Assoc Prof Samuel Zagarella

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    A/Professor Samuel Zagarella graduated with Honours from the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine in 1984. He obtained his specialist Dermatologist qualification and became Fellow ... View Profile

    Eczema is a common cause of peeling hands, feet and lips. This can be managed with moisturizers and prescription medication if required.

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    Dr Anne Halbert

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    Dr Anne Halbert is a paediatric dermatologist in Perth, Western Australia. After completing her dermatology training and becoming a Fellow of the Australasian College of ... View Profile

    There are several potential causes of peeling hands, feet and lips and most of these have a genetic basis rather than a cause that can be simply avoided. However, exposure to irritants such as soaps and detergents/ cleaning agents and excessive exposure to water will aggravate any of these conditions. They do tend to be chronic and frustrating.

    a. There is a subtype of eczema (juvenile forefoot dermatitis) that causes dry, peeling skin under the forefeet/ toes, around the heels and fingertips. Although itch can occur, this type of eczema is more commonly sore as cracks and fissures readily develop. People who get this type of eczema often have dry skin elsewhere and dry lips.

    b. A condition called keratolysis exfoliativa – palms and soles peel at various times of the year, particularly summer. This is a nuisance but is not usually very severe or incapacitating.

    c. Erythrokeratolysis hiemalis – redness and peeling of palms and soles, particularly in winter. The underlying skin can be very sore. This runs in the family as an autosomal dominant condition.

  • 1

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    Assoc. Prof. John Su

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist), Paediatrician

    Paediatric dermatologist, Senior lecturer at University of Melbourne and Monash University View Profile

    There are genetic conditions which can cause peeling of the hands, face, feet and other parts of the skin. One of the more common things is dermatitis which can cause flaking and peeling forms of eczema, but it can also be seen in many other genetically predisposed conditions. We sometimes see them with irritants on the skins.

    Occasionally infections can cause peeling. There are some children who can get peeling with excess sweating and infections can be either localized to the skin or can be reactive so there are many causes of peeling.

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