Dry Red Skin Between the Fingers
Dry skin, medically known as xerosis, is a widespread problem, particularly in dry climates or very hot or cold temperatures. Wind and sun exposure can dry out your hands, making them rough, flaky and often itchy. Very dry hands may become particularly red and scaly between the fingers. Over-the-counter remedies such as moisturizing hand lotion or cortisone cream can help provide relief.
Dry skin on your hands and between your fingers can be caused by genetic predisposition or hormonal fluctuations, such as those common to pregnancy or menopause. Environmental factors may be a more common cause. Cleaning with hot water and harsh cleansers without wearing gloves can create or exacerbate the problem. Your hands may become even drier in summer or winter, especially if you spend a lot of time outside without wearing gloves or sunscreen.
According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics website, dry skin occurs most commonly on the hands, arms and legs. Dry skin between the fingers may be caused by dermatitis or eczema, in which the skin turns dark red or brown, becomes very itchy and may crack and bleed from lack of moisture or from scratching. MayoClinic.com states that eczema most often appears in childhood, but in rare cases may first appear in adults.
Healing the dry, red skin between your fingers may be as simple and inexpensive as using a hand repair cream or thick body lotion. Some people rub petroleum jelly on their hands and cover them overnight with cotton gloves. Lotions containing olive oil, aloe or lanolin may be particularly soothing. In the shower, use a bath gel formulated with cocoa or shea butter instead of regular bath soap, and replace your antibacterial hand soap with a bottle of the same body wash. Visit a dermatologist if home remedies and lifestyle changes don't help.
Always wear rubber or latex gloves when using abrasives, chemical cleansers or hot water to clean your house. Keep your showers brief and as cool as possible. Avoid antibacterial and deodorant soaps, which can be too harsh for regular hand washing. Drink at least eight glasses, or 64 ounces, of water a day to help keep your hands hydrated from the inside out.
If easy, inexpensive treatments and preventative measures don't work, evaluate your persistent symptoms for clues to your possible condition. A dermatologist can diagnose the cause of the dry skin between your fingers. Frequent infections or colds that occur simultaneously with excessive dry skin may be a sign of a serious autoimmune disorder. Contact a physician, especially if you have other signs of poor health.
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