Every summer, I get exfoliative keratolysis, peeling of the skin on my thumbs. Like clockwork, red, dry blisters appear on my thumbs. They get hard like callouses, split, and then the skin peels off. Fortunately, it’s not painful except when the skin that pulls off goes too deep. And when I put my thumbs in the nail polish remover jar, it kills! It doesn’t look great, but fortunately, it’s just on my thumbs and occasionally on my index fingers.
My general practitioner didn’t know what it was. After giving me a couple of different prescription ointments to apply that didn’t work, she suggested I see a dermatologist who got it wrong. Steroids don’t help. Nothing “cures” it.
So I turned to the internet and discovered that many other people have this condition, and that it’s called exfoliative keratolysis. The cause is unknown, so far. Microscopy shows that the outer layer of skin, the stratum corneum, breaks apart and peels off.
Water aggravates it, so I try to wear gloves when I wash dishes or clean.
I try to leave the peeling skin alone, but the dry skin gets caught on things, and I’m always tempted to pull it off.
I recently discovered Aveeno Eczema Therapy at Ulta. Although my condition is technically not eczema, I decided to try it in spite of the $13.99 price tag. I apply it at night and any time the peeling skin gets dry and hard and I’m tempted to pull it off. The Aveeno cream contains dimethicone (silicone), one of the ingredients recommended to soothe this condition. The cream makes the skin on my thumbs look better, softens it, and gives it a chance to heal on its own without me peeling it off.
This is a limited interest product. And it doesn’t heal the condition, but it helps it look and feel better. So if you know anyone with eczema or exfoliative keratolysis, let them know about Aveeno Eczema Therapy. It’s worth a try. Other treatments include creams with urea (Gold Bond) or lactic acid.
The packaging says it is:
- Clinically shown to soothe skin with eczema
- Steroid free
- Dermatologist recommended
- National Eczema Association accepted
- Fragrance free
The size of the tube I bought is 7.3 oz./207 g, but it comes in a smaller (5 oz.) and a larger (12 oz.) size. As I mentioned, I paid $13.99 for the 7.3 oz. at Ulta, and it is definitely available for less elsewhere. (This is one time that Ulta was quite a bit more expensive than other retailers.) Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream is widely available: CVS, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Amazon, and lots of other websites.
Active Ingredients Colloidal Oatmeal (1%, Skin Protectant). NOT GLUTEN-FREE!
Inactive Ingredients Water, Glycerin, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Panthenol, Petrolatum, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Avena Sativa Kernel Oil (Oat), Steareth 20, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (Oat).
Do you or anyone you know have this weird, seasonal peeling of the thumbs? What do you use?