Q&A: What can I do about extremely dry hands and palms that split open and bleed?

Ask A Doctor Question: 

my hands are extremly dry, so dry that my fingers, nuckels and palms split open and bleed. I can't git rid of it. I put hand cream on them all the time, that helps a little. It's been about 2 years now and it doesn't clear up. what can I do

- Bill


Shalini Gupta, MD - LocateADoc.com

It's possible you may have eczema or a possible irritant or allergic dermatitis that is causing the excessive dryness. You would likely benefit from a prescription cream. I would be happy to evaluate your problem by examining and getting a full history of the problem to see how to best treat it. I would recommend, for now, applying a good layer of Vaseline on your hands and covering up with cotton gloves overnight.   Try to avoid coming in contact with anything that may be aggravating the dryness. Hope this helps for now. 

--Shalini Gupta, MD
Cincinnati, OH


Robert Haber, MD - LocateADoc.com

This is unfortunately a very common condition, particularly during such a cold dry winter. You most likely have a form of hand eczema, which can be made worse by contact with a variety of chemicals. Moisturizers are helpful, but your condition generally requires prescription medication and often allergy testing to determine what your sensitivities. You need to see a Dermatologist.

--Robert Haber, MD
Cleveland, OH


Amy Forman Taub, M.D. - LocateADoc.com

You need a more professional skin care regimen. Some moisturizers are actually engineered to mimic the skin's proportion of oils, repairing the barrier more effectively.
We have a kit for hands that contain a cream such as this called Medical Barrier Cream, a nighttime ointment that has proven to be more effective than other ointments and covering these with light cotton gloves.
Believe it or not, super glue out on the fissures to fuse the skin together will help the splits heal. In addition use of a moisturizing cleanser for the hands helps reduce the drying caused by drying.
You can go on website or call to speak with one of our licensed esthetician about getting the full kit.

--Amy Forman Taub, M.D.
Lincolnshire, IL


Dima Ali, M.D. - LocateADoc.com

Hi Bill and thank you for your question.  Cracked, dry skin is definitely a common problem, especially in the winter.  Determining the cause of the issue is often helpful in finding an adequate solution.  It would be helpful to know, for example, if your job or any activities you do on a regular basis involve water.  This can exacerbate the problem and prolong the healing time.  Since it's been going on for so long I think the best thing to do is consult a doctor who will be able to make the proper recommendations.
It is definitely treatable though and usually involves a regimen of ointments/gloves and sometimes anti-fungal or antibiotic agents as well.  If you can't see a doctor for whatever reason, try using straight up vaseline overnight with gloves on for several nights.  This will help the symptoms but my guess is there may be an instigating factor that needs to be addressed to "cure" the problem.  I hope this helps.

--Dima Ali, M.D.
Reston, VA

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