I'm 34 years of age and in decent health. I've never had any health problems until recently (sound familiar anyone?). About two years ago, I would notice redness and a burning sensation around the last joint in two of my fingers. It would always go away within a day or two so I didn't pay it much mind. Within a year or so later, I was alarmed to see my fingertips drying up and beginning to peel. I was able to stave this off with moisturizer, particularly petroleum jelly. I would find the skin to become very hard and crust over, then begin to peel away layer after layer otherwise. It has progressed and more of my fingers are affected, it also has travelled down as far as the second joint on some. At this point no moisturizer has done much good for me, I've tried steroid creams, urea creams and also bactroban/clobetasol ointments all to no avail. The best treatment I have for this is to wear vinyl examination gloves almost all of the time, coupled with small doses of moisturizer before donning them. This seems to keep moisture in and prevent the dryness and breaking out. I cannot take them off for more than an hour or two, though, as my skin will crust over and begin the peeling process. It seems also that the capillaries break from underneath the skin and it becomes very red. Itchiness invariably follows.
I've also noticed a cycle that, whether or not I keep the gloves on and contain my skin's moisture, every couple of weeks I go through a period where my fingers are itchy. Another drawback to this solution is that my fingernails have started to flake and crack, probably from the excessive moisture they are not intended to handle.
I was diagnosed with an hypothyroidism about a year ago (an underactive thyroid) and now take thyroxin to correct the shortfall in hormone production. I'm not sure if this would have anything to do with the problem. Stress is a factor in my life, I have four young kids and a job where I am micromanaged most of the time which I find very frustrating. These things no doubt play a role in my overall health, but are not changeable in the short term (a career change is likely in the future though). Any ideas?