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Overview

The hands and fingers are two of the most common areas where skin dryness can occur and this can lead to peeling and cracking issues.

Causes

The most common causes of dry, cracked, and swollen fingers are eczema, exposure to certain allergens, hereditary conditions, using little to no moisturizers, and excessive washing.

The two types of eczema include:

  • Atopic dermatitis - this is a chronic, itchy rash that can be caused by exposure to certain allergens as well as result from genetic conditions passed down from the affected individual's parents. This condition tends to get worse when the patient's skin is exposed to dry air. Not only does this condition affect the hands but also the skin over joint creases which can crack without the correct treatment.
  • Dyshidrosis - this condition starts off as itchy blisters that develop over the fingertips and palms of the hands. When these blisters rupture, deep cracks appear which become dry and may even bleed.

Ways to Manage Dry and Cracked Hands

Home Remedies

The following are recommendations for patients who struggle with the issue of dry and cracked hands:

  • Moisturize the hands with products such as olive oil.
  • Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes.
  • Avoid cleaning the hands with alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the hands after washing them.
  • Soaking the hands in diluted bleach is another suggestions. This may sound unusual but clinical studies have been performed on this remedy which has demonstrated that the diluted bleach helps to reduce the chances of developing a staphylococcal infection whilst having eczema.

Routine Care

Individuals who deal with chronic eczema which can only be controlled with medications need to incorporate a detailed regimen of daily skin care. This may entail the following measures:

  • Avoiding any products that can trigger an allergic or sensitivity reaction which would otherwise worsen the skin inflammation.
  • Use barrier creams and gels to help retain any moisture that is already present in the skin. These products will help to soothe any dry areas causing symptoms.
  • Apply cool compresses on bleeding or blistered areas of the cracked skin followed by the application of a moisturizer.

Medications

When home remedies are not effective enough then affected individuals need to consult with a physician so that they can be assessed, evaluated, and possibly investigated further in order to initiate the correct prescription medication.

Patients may come right with medication prescribed by a primary care physician but in severe cases, they may have to be referred to a dermatologist for further treatment of the problem.

The first line of treatment for inflamed skin caused by eczema is corticosteroid ointments and creams which help to reduce the itching, swelling, and redness over the affected skin. This allows any cracked skin to start healing.

In cases where the cracked skin has become infected, antibiotic creams are used to treat any staphylococcal bacteria in the tissue.

Deep cracks caused by dyshidrosis may need to be treated with a lactic acid lotion to try and get rid of the excess skin that is peeling as well as scar tissue that may already have formed.

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