Extremely Dry Cracked Hands
Dry, cracked hands are a common problem for many people. Many factors play a role in the condition of your skin, especially environmental changes and weather conditions. Your hands are one of the areas of your body, along with your feet and elbows, that are most susceptible to dryness and cracking.
Your skin acts as a natural barrier against infection and bacteria. When your skin becomes dry, it loses flexibility and can crack, destroying this natural barrier. Dry, cracked hands, can become so dry and dehydrated you can develop small fissures in your palms and on the tops of your hands. Bleeding through the fissures and cracks can increase your risk of infection.
Dry skin is caused by several common factors. Weather conditions, aging, exposure to harsh chemicals or soaps, the aging process and certain types of skin diseases are all common causes of dry skin. Additionally, if you spend a lot of time outdoors in harsh weather and don't protect your hands with gloves, you will lose many of the natural oils that help to keep your skin from drying out.
Most cases of dry, cracked hands can be resolved using home remedies and lifestyle changes. Use nondrying soaps or moisturizing cleansers each time you wash your hands. After washing, dry your hands gently with a soft towel and immediately apply a thick moisturizing cream. For a deep treatment that can heal your hands overnight, apply petroleum jelly to your hands and cover with cotton gloves before going to bed.
You can often prevent dry or chapped hands by taking certain precautions. Avoid overwashing your hands, especially with hot water. Protect your hands with rubber gloves whenever you wash dishes or expose your hands to harsh cleaning agents. Wear warm cotton gloves when you go out into cold, dry weather conditions.
If your hands don't respond to home remedies or are so cracked that they bleed, seek the advice of a dermatologist. Severely red or dry skin can also be a symptom of some types of genetic diseases such as atopic dermatitis and ichthyosis or can be an indication of a malfunctioning thyroid gland.
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