Really Dry Skin on My Hands
Dry skin is a common problem, particularly in the cold winter months when humidity is low. If the skin on your hands is dry, it can be particularly uncomfortable given the requisite amount of daily movement. Keep your hands soft and smooth even in the coldest weather by protecting them from the elements and treating flakiness with lotion or hand cream daily.
Your hands can become dry and scaly due to the climate you live in or the substances to which your skin is regularly exposed. For example, someone who spends a lot of time cleaning without wearing gloves may experience dry hands as a result of harsh cleansers or hot water. A health care worker who regularly washes her hands or wears latex gloves may also experience dryness. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, dry skin occurs most commonly on the arms and legs, including the hands.
Eczema and Dermatitis
More serious causes of dry skin on the hands include allergies or eczema, a form of atopic dermatitis that may result from a compromised immune system. Eczema is most often seen in infants and children, but may continue into adulthood. Signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis include red or brownish patches, small raised bumps and severe itching, which may be worse at night. Staph bacteria growing on the skin can worsen the symptoms of eczema.
Treatment for dry hands is readily available over the counter in pharmacies. Hand lotions, ointments and creams are formulated with essential oils that can provide relief and stop itching. Apply hand cream after each time you get your hands wet, particularly after washing. You can also slather on lotion at night and wear cotton gloves to help protect your hands, which can prevent you from scratching them in the night. Look for moisturizing hand and bath soaps for added soothing.
Keep your skin from becoming too dry by making sure your body stays hydrated. Drink plenty of water, aiming for at least 64 oz. a day. Avoid immersing your hands in water without wearing rubber gloves, and keep the water lukewarm rather than hot. If you suspect your dry hands may be related to eczema, visit a dermatologist who can correctly diagnose the condition and provide prescription treatment to help avoid flare-ups. Medications that can prevent eczema symptoms include corticosteroid ointment and oral antibiotics or antihistamines.
Determine the factors most likely responsible for your dry skin in order to seek appropriate treatment. If avoiding extreme temperatures and applying moisturizer to your hands doesn't work, consider your persistent symptoms. Hands that are dry to the point of cracking and bleeding may require medical intervention to alleviate pain and itching. If you show any other signs of an immune system suppression, such as frequent colds or infections, consult your physician to make sure your dry skin is not a sign of a larger problem.
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