Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my hands become dry and chapped only during the winter?"
I'm a 22 year old healthy male. For the past several years I experience chapping, cracking, and small blisters on my hands during the winter time. The condition will go away during the spring, summer, and fall but continually returns in the winter. I have tried using hand lotion to reduce the irritation but that only seems to make more blisters appear.
Dryness of the skin during the winter is a very common problem. This is because the cold and dry air tends to strip the skin of its natural protective oils and moisture. When the cold lessens and the air becomes more humid, the skin dryness will often improve. Many people who have dry skin of the hands like this have an underlying problem with eczema, which is an inflammation of the skin which leads to redness, itching, and cracking and occurs in those with a tendency toward sensitive and dry skin. The most important treatment for this condition is moisturizing of the skin. You may not have seen much effect with hand lotion because most lotions are actually too light to really trap in moisture and protect the skin. It is much better to use a thick cream or ointment, something that feels "greasy," as this will give you better results. Also, you will need to apply the moisturizer many times during the day, especially after each time you wash your hands. Also, when you wash your hands, avoid hot water and pat your hands dry, don't rub. If these strategies do not work for you then you should talk to your primary care doctor.
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