Rough Dry Hands
Rough, dry hands are a common problem. Many people expose hands everyday to conditions and substances that are hard on the skin, often without even realizing it. This daily exposure can gradually damage your skin, causing excessive dryness and irritation that leads to thickening, cracking and peeling. In most cases, rough dry hands can be healed and softened with a bit of intensive care at home.
Typical symptoms of extremely dry hands include itching, patches of peeling or reddened skin and cracks and creases on the fingers or palms. Skin ulcers can develop in severe cases, as can deep cracks that break open and bleed. Skin texture can become rough to the touch, feeling dry and scratchy rather than smooth and soft.
Cold, dry winter air is among the most frequent causes of rough, dry hands, as is exposure to harsh chemicals, such as dish detergents and other cleaning products. Frequent hand washing can be at the root of the problem, especially if harsh soaps are used. According to MayoClinic.com, these factors can break down the natural lipid barriers of the skin, allowing moisture loss.
Treating rough, dry skin depends on preventing moisture loss by applying moisturizers immediately after bathing or hand washing. According to University of Iowa, skin should be partially dried by patting, never rubbing, then moisturizer applied within three minutes to seal moisture in before it evaporates. Thick ointment type moisturizers work best for severely dry skin, but may be impractical for daytime use due to greasiness. A cream or lotion can be of benefit for daytime use if greasiness is an issue, and ointments or petroleum jelly can be applied at night, then covered with cotton gloves for an overnight soak.
To prevent rough, dry hands from reoccurring, make a habit of using waterproof gloves when the hands must be exposed to hot water and detergents during such tasks as dish washing and other household cleaning projects. Use work gloves for gardening or other outdoor projects. Protect hands when you go out in the cold with warm gloves or mittens to prevent drying and chapping. Carry a pocket-size bottle of hand lotion or cream and apply it after every handwashing.
Dry, rough hands that have open cracks and sores can be at risk for bacterial infections. For example, bacteria entering through such an open wound can cause cellulitis, which is an infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Cellulitis is a potentially serious infection that can enter the lymphatic system and blood vessels.
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