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Itchy Cracked Skin

Itchy Cracked Skin

Overview

Skin that itches and cracks can feel tight, rough and uncomfortable. Itchy skin with fissure-like cracks that flake may be a sign of an underlying skin condition. Itchy, cracked skin commonly occurs on places like the hands, heels, knees and elbows. If you currently suffer from itchy, cracked skin, consult your doctor or dermatologist to discover the exact cause and to discuss potential solutions.

Causes

Excessive dryness is a common cause of itchy, cracked skin. When your skin lacks moisture, it becomes irritated, itchy and more susceptible to peeling and cracking. Some people naturally have dry skin. Others will experience occasional periods of skin dryness provoked by external factors. Your skin can become dry from cold temperatures, low humidity levels, excessive and lengthy bathing and exposure to hot water. Eczema is another condition that can cause your skin to itch and crack. Eczema is a condition that often runs in families. Eczema can also be triggered by direct contact with a specific skin irritant. In addition to itchy, cracked skin, eczema can also cause symptoms like redness, stinging, burning, bumps and scaling.

Time Frame

Itchy, cracked skin can be an ongoing problem for some. Others suffer from periodic flare-ups. Itchy, cracked skin lasts longer in the winter months when the weather is cold and dry than during the summer when the weather is warm and humid. According to MedlinePlus.com, eczema is a chronic, recurring condition that will require continual treatment to keep your symptoms under control. The duration of eczema breakouts varies by individual.

Treatments

According to MayoClinic.com, hydrocortisone cream and creams that contain active ingredients such as lactic acid or urea can help soften cracked skin and ease uncomfortable itching. MedlinePlus.com recommends using a topical steroid cream to treat itchy, cracked skin associated with eczema. More severe cases of eczema may require the use of stronger topical creams that contain ingredients such as anthralin or coal tar.

Prevention

Keeping your skin well moisturized will help ward off excessive dryness. MayoClinic.com recommends applying a moisturizing lotion to your skin immediately after taking a bath or a shower. This is especially important during the winter. Always make your bath and shower water warm rather than hot. You should also limit your bathing time to once a day for no more than 15 minutes at a time.

Warning

MayoClinic.com warns that scratching itchy, cracked skin too frequently and too hard can cause you to contract a skin infection. See your doctor right away if you suspect that you may have an infection. Signs of infection include a high fever and pain around the affected area. Severe cases of eczema can cause permanent scarring of your skin.

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