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Exfoliative Keratolysis - blister, peel, slough ..& repeat
32 year old healthy male. Three weeks ago I noticed that my foot was itching quite intensely. A few days later I noticed a little red bump on the inside of my right index finger, just where the palmar skin meets the normal skin - this also itched a little. I picked at the bump and it came off, though after much picking. Then in the following days my fingertips developed blisters and started to peel. The blisters do not weep, they are air filled. Now the blistering continues, but at a slower rate, and it's working its way down each finger; there's even the odd blister on each palm now.

I have had this before about twelve years ago, and it went away but I don't recall how long it took or the speed of healing. I've researched on the net and this is clearly a case of Exfoliative Keratolysis - see http://www.dermafoto.com/diseases/exfoliative-keratolysis/#1 . The images shown at the URL are almost exactly how my fingers look.

I figure the cause of this is heat/humidity/moisture related. I live in the UK and it came on after a particularly muggy week, plus I was training hard for a 10K run, so it all fits. My fingers feel almost like there's something stuck to them, like wax and tend to crinkle very quickly after exposure to water. It's interesting that the blisters erupt symmetrically on both hands. One of my fingertips has peeled off almost completely and this is showing no further blisters, so that's encouraging.

Question: I'm wondering whether the whole top layer of old skin of both hands needs to come off before I will get over this, in which case it's got a long way to go (!), or whether under the right conditions the remaining old skin will simply merge with the new pink skin?
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I found a website  where a person claims that she or he cured completely her cracking and peeling thumbs and fingers after suffering from this problem for over two years and trying everything from OTC and prescription drugs to folk remedies. The condition  looks  very similar to yours.  Although her/his approach might not work for everyone it might work for you:
http://www.omnimetis.com/view/index.aspx?pid=454&catid=7&subcat=5

I've seen some improvement on my thumbs, but it's been only 5 days since I started.

Hope it'll help, Calinda

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Thanks for the link Calinda! The site you refer to says that eliminating citrus fruits resolved it for him. I rarely drink OJ or eat citrus fruits, so it can't be that. As it happens, my EK has lessened since the weather got colder, in the last month or so.I still get the odd blister erupt on the ends of my fingers, but it's nothing like as bad as when this first started.

It's always most noticable when I step out the shower. I can imagine it would go away completely if my showers were cold ones and I avoided soap/shower gels altogether!
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The same site has another interesting article about dry, cracking and bleeding fingers: http://omnimetis.com/view/index.aspx?pid=585 and  it seems that the cause of your condition and of so many other people who suffer from it lies elsewhere. Hope it'll help more.  Cheers, Amanda
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Dear Microworld,

I appreciate your research and the link you've posted, though - as I alluded to in my previous post - my condition has resolved. I am 99.9% confident it was exfoliative keratolysis. There seems to be very little known about the condition, perhaps because it commonly resolves itself - like it did with me - after a few months. And of course it has no health effects other than looking horrible and making the fingertips feel odd! All the best.
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