Signs of Dry Hands
Dry skin, the medical name for which is xerosis, is a frequent ailment, particularly in extreme temperatures or arid environments. Sun and wind exposure can dry out your hands, leaving them feeling rough, flaky and often quite itchy. You usually can treat dry hands with over-the-counter remedies, but you might need to see a doctor if your dry skin does not improve.
Signs and Symptoms
According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics website, the most common body parts affected by dry skin are the legs, arms and hands. Those with dermatitis or eczema might have increased signs of dry hands. If your hands are itchy or turn dark brown or red, they might be dry. Other signs of dry hands include cracking and bleeding, scaling, flaking, a tight feeling and the appearance of wrinkles or fine lines.
Biological causes of dry skin on the hands include heredity and the hormonal changes of aging, pregnancy or menopause. Environmental factors are another common cause of dry skin. For example, if you frequently clean without wearing gloves, the hot water and the chemicals in cleansers can dry your hands. You might find that your hands become drier in the summer or winter, especially if you often go outside without sunscreen or gloves.
Healing dry hands might be as simple as using a thick lotion or hand repair cream. One home remedy is slathering petroleum jelly on your skin and covering your hands overnight with cotton gloves. Lotions containing lanolin, olive oil or aloe can be particularly soothing. Use a moisturizing soap and cool water to wash your hands without overdrying. Shower with a body wash formulated with shea or cocoa instead of regular bath soap. In extreme cases, your dermatologist can prescribe oral or topical antibiotics or corticosteroids.
Wearing rubber gloves whenever you clean or immerse your hands in water can prevent dry skin. It also might help to take brief warm showers rather than long showers or hot baths. Switching from antibacterial hand soap to moisturizing body wash can help, especially if you wash your hands frequently. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day can help keep your skin hydrated from within.
Correctly identifying the cause of your dry skin will help you choose appropriate treatment. If lifestyle changes like wearing gloves and using lotion don't work, visit a dermatologist and tell him your most frequent symptoms. If you have frequent infections, colds or flu as well as excessively dry skin, this could be a sign of an autoimmune disorder for which you should seek immediate medical attention.
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