Toes Peeling in Strips: Is It Psoriasis Related? | MyPsoriasisTeam

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Toes Peeling in Strips: Is It Psoriasis Related?

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Ted Samson
Posted on February 23, 2023

If you’re living with psoriasis, you may sometimes discover you’ve developed skin symptoms you hadn’t seen before. In turn, you may wonder if that symptom is related to psoriasis or to some other condition. After all, psoriasis and other unrelated conditions can have similar symptoms, including plaques (patches of thick skin), flaky skin, and itchiness.

One such symptom is skin peeling in strips from one’s toes. If you’re experiencing this symptom, psoriasis may be the cause — although there are other potential culprits, such as athlete’s foot, a type of fungal infection.

In this article, we’ll look at why psoriasis may cause the skin on your toes to peel, other possible causes of skin peeling from the toes, and what you can do to treat this symptom.

Skin Peeling and Psoriasis

Psoriasis can cause the skin to peel from any part of the foot, including the toes. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition in which part of your immune system becomes overactive, specifically affecting your skin. This disorder speeds up your body’s production of skin cells to the point that your skin builds up more quickly than your body can naturally shed it. This, in turn, leads to plaques — patches of thick, scaly skin — that are prone to drying, cracking, bleeding, and itching.

Foot Psoriasis

Psoriasis symptoms can develop anywhere on a person’s body, from the top of their head to the bottoms of their feet. Palmoplantar psoriasis is a form of plaque psoriasis that develops on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Foot psoriasis symptoms usually resemble psoriasis symptoms on other parts of the body, including the aforementioned plaques, scales, dryness, and discoloration.

In some cases of psoriasis, a person may develop pustules (fluid-filled sores resembling blisters), a symptom of pustular psoriasis. Foot psoriasis may also affect the toenails, causing thickness, rigidity, pitting, or lifting from the nail bed.

Does Psoriasis Cause Toe Peeling?

Skin peeling can be a symptom of psoriasis, and it can affect one’s feet. However, information from reputable sources about psoriasis doesn’t specifically mention skin peeling from toes as a symptom of the condition.

Other Potential Causes

Toe peeling is common in other skin conditions. For example, tinea pedis, also known as ringworm of the foot — or, more commonly, athlete’s foot — can cause the skin to peel between the toes. Athlete’s foot is a type of fungal skin infection. It can result from wearing closed shoes, having damp feet for extended periods of time, sweating profusely, or developing minor injuries to your skin or nails.

Tinea pedis — better known as athlete’s foot — is a type of fungal infection that can cause the skin to peel between the toes. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Aside from peeling of skin between toes, symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • Itchiness
  • Inflammation
  • Discoloration
  • Burning or stinging sensations
  • Blisters
  • Scaling and dryness along the bottom and sides of the foot

Beyond fungal infections, other conditions that may cause the skin on your feet or toes to peel include:

  • Contact dermatitis — Symptoms caused by allergic reactions to certain substances, such as ingredients in soaps and detergents or shoe materials like rubber or plastic
  • Sunburn
  • Other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis (the most common type of eczema)
  • Staph infections, such as cellulitis
  • Medication side effects
  • Other types of immune system disorders

People living with eczema may also experience skin peeling from their toes. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Diagnosing Peeling Toes

If you’re living with psoriasis and notice unusual peeling on your foot or toes that you haven’t experienced before, you should speak with your doctor or dermatologist. They’re best equipped to determine the cause. This process may include:

  • Conducting a physical examination
  • Inquiring about your medical history, including any medications or supplements you may be taking
  • Performing an allergy test, blood test, or skin biopsy

Treating Peeling Toes

Treatment options for peeling toes depend on what’s causing the symptom. According to Cleveland Clinic, treatments may include:

  • Allergy medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • Corticosteroids
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

For at-home treatment, over-the-counter topicals such as moisturizers, lotions, or ointments may also help. Look for options that are hypoallergenic and free of dye and fragrances.

Make sure not to pick or pull at the peeling skin, as this can expose the area to bacterial infections. Picking at psoriasis scales also puts you at risk of bleeding and inflammation.

Ultimately, you should speak with a health care provider or dermatologist if you discover skin peeling from your toes.

Meet Your Team

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, more than 115,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you experienced skin peeling from your toes? What was the cause, and have you found any helpful treatments? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

Posted on February 23, 2023
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Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Ted Samson is a copy editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.

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