Excessively Dry Hands
Xerosis, or dry skin, is a common malady, particularly in arid climates or extreme hot or cold temperatures. Sun and wind exposure can dry out the skin on your hands, which can be uncomfortable or even painful. Dry skin can often be treated with over-the-counter remedies, though a visit to a dermatologist may be in order if the skin on your hands is cracking, bleeding or covered in blisters. A dermatologist can prescribe topical or oral medication specific to the cause of your dry hands.
Dry skin on your hands can be due in part to heredity or hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause. It can also result from your hobbies or occupation. A person who cleans frequently without wearing gloves may find that hot water and harsh cleansers dry out his hands. Your hands may become drier in summer or winter, particularly if you regularly work or play outside without wearing sunscreen, lotion or gloves. Those in professions where a lot of hand washing is required, such as health care, may find that strong antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps dry the skin on their hands.
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics website states that dry skin occurs most commonly on the arms, legs and hands. Symptoms of extreme dry skin may be caused by dermatitis or eczema, in which the skin turns dark brown or red, itches intensely, and may crack or bleed from dehydration or scratching.Eczema most often arises in childhood, but in rare cases may continue into or first appear in adulthood. Other symptoms of dry skin on the hands include flaking, scaling, a feeling of tightness and the appearance of paper-like lines and wrinkles.
Using hand lotion or a thick, petroleum-jelly-based hand cream can help heal your dry skin. You may obtain rapid relief by slathering cream on your hands and wearing cotton gloves overnight. Look for lotions containing olive oil and aloe for extra moisturizing. Clean your hands with cool water and a moisturizing body wash containing shea or cocoa butter instead of antibacterial soap. If these steps do not alleviate dry skin problems, a dermatologist can prescribe corticosteroids or antibiotics.
Always wear gloves when cleaning the house or washing dishes. Take brief, tepid showers rather than soaking in the bathtub. Drink lots of water, aiming for at least eight 8 oz. glasses a day, which will hydrate your skin from the inside out. Minimize wind and sun exposure well as the use of central air conditioning and heating.
Seeking appropriate treatment ultimately depends on identifying the cause of your dry skin. If common preventative measures don't work, use your persistent symptoms as a guide to your possible condition. A dermatologist can diagnose the cause of hands that crack, bleed and itch. Frequent colds or infections concurrent with excessive dry skin could be a sign of an autoimmune disorder requiring serious medical attention. Do not hesitate to consult a physician if home remedies have failed, particularly if you have other symptoms of ill health.
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