Acral peeling skin syndrome is a skin disorder characterized by painless peeling of the top layer of skin. The term "acral" refers to the fact that the skin peeling in this condition is most apparent on the hands and feet. Occasionally, peeling also occurs on the arms and legs. The peeling is usually evident from birth, although the condition can also begin in childhood or later in life. Skin peeling is made worse by exposure to heat, humidity and other forms of moisture, and friction. The underlying skin may be temporarily red and itchy, but it typically heals without scarring. Acral peeling skin syndrome is not associated with any other health problems.
Acral peeling skin syndrome is a rare condition, with several dozen cases reported in the medical literature. However, because its signs and symptoms tend to be mild and similar to those of other skin disorders, the condition is likely underdiagnosed.
Acral peeling skin syndrome is caused by mutations in the TGM5 gene. This gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called transglutaminase 5, which is a component of the outer layer of skin (the epidermis). Transglutaminase 5 plays a critical role in the formation of a structure called the cornified cell envelope, which surrounds epidermal cells and helps the skin form a protective barrier between the body and its environment.
TGM5 gene mutations reduce the production of transglutaminase 5 or prevent cells from making any of this protein. A shortage of transglutaminase 5 weakens the cornified cell envelope, which allows the outermost cells of the epidermis to separate easily from the underlying skin and peel off. This peeling is most noticeable on the hands and feet probably because those areas tend to be heavily exposed to moisture and friction.
This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.
Other Names for This Condition
- Peeling skin syndrome, acral type
Additional Information & Resources
Genetic Testing Information
Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center
Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM
Scientific Articles on PubMed
- Cassidy AJ, van Steensel MA, Steijlen PM, van Geel M, van der Velden J, Morley SM, Terrinoni A, Melino G, Candi E, McLean WH. A homozygous missense mutation in TGM5 abolishes epidermal transglutaminase 5 activity and causes acral peeling skin syndrome. Am J Hum Genet. 2005 Dec;77(6):909-17. Epub 2005 Oct 11. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
- Kiritsi D, Cosgarea I, Franzke CW, Schumann H, Oji V, Kohlhase J, Bruckner-Tuderman L, Has C. Acral peeling skin syndrome with TGM5 gene mutations may resemble epidermolysis bullosa simplex in young individuals. J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Jun;130(6):1741-6. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.23. Epub 2010 Feb 18. Citation on PubMed
- Pavlovic S, Krunic AL, Bulj TK, Medenica MM, Fong K, Arita K, McGrath JA. Acral peeling skin syndrome: a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorder. Pediatr Dermatol. 2012 May-Jun;29(3):258-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2011.01563.x. Epub 2011 Nov 8. Citation on PubMed
- Pigors M, Kiritsi D, Cobzaru C, Schwieger-Briel A, Suárez J, Faletra F, Aho H, Mäkelä L, Kern JS, Bruckner-Tuderman L, Has C. TGM5 mutations impact epidermal differentiation in acral peeling skin syndrome. J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Oct;132(10):2422-2429. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.166. Epub 2012 May 24. Citation on PubMed
- Szczecinska W, Nesteruk D, Wertheim-Tysarowska K, Greenblatt DT, Baty D, Browne F, Liu L, Ozoemena L, Terron-Kwiatkowski A, McGrath JA, Mellerio JE, Morton J, Woźniak K, Kowalewski C, Has C, Moss C. Under-recognition of acral peeling skin syndrome: 59 new cases with 15 novel mutations. Br J Dermatol. 2014 Nov;171(5):1206-10. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12964. Epub 2014 Oct 20. Citation on PubMed