Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my hands bleed and crack in the cold weather?"
Every winter for at least the last five years from October through May which is our cold weather time here in Iowa my hands bleed and crack. I am 51 years old and female. Sometimes when it gets below 0 it can be both hands but normally it is 1. In the last year or two I have found some relief using "Bag Balm". I still do have some problems even with that. I read one time that it could be hormones. I do not take any medications.
Drying out and cracking of the skin of the hands during the winter is a very common medical problem. It is very unlikely that it is related to medications or hormones. Instead, the dry air and cold strips away the natural layer of protective oils that normally cover the skin, leading to drying out of the skin and cracking. In order to minimize this, you should make sure to liberally apply a skin moisturizer multiple times a day. Bag Balm and other "sticky" moisturizers are better because they are thick and tend to trap in the skin's moisture a little better. You should also avoid things that worsen the drying process. By far the most common culprit is water. You should always where rubber gloves when washing dishes, and you should limit how often you wash your hands, never use very hot water, and always pat your hands dry instead of rubbing them dry. If you are doing yard work or house work, a pair of light cotton gloves can keep your hands protected. If there are any areas of redness, scaling, and itching, you can apply an over the counter steroid cream to these areas to clear them up. If none of this works, see your primary care doctor or your dermatologist.
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