ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have dry patches on my hands?

Question

Why do I have dry patches on my hands?

I'm a 33 year old hispanic female. After I got married, I started wearing my wedding ring around the clock. I soon after developed a patch of extremely dry ugly skin that encircles the base of my finger. I also started wearing a ring on my hand and developed the exact same affliction on the finger. During this span of time, I have been pregnant twice. During both pregnancies, the skin has returned to normal. After each pregnancy, the skin turns extremely dry again. I have seen a dermatologist for this and the doctor took a sample, but could not find a diagnosis. Lotion temporarily masks the skin for about an hour before it turns dry again. What could this be?

Answer

I think the symptoms you describe are actually probably two separate but related conditions. First, there is the issue of overall dry skin on the hands. This is probably eczema, which is an inflammatory condition of the skin in which dryness, itching, redness, and cracking occur. Treatment of eczema involves, first and foremost, keeping the skin well moisturized. A hand lotion is not a good treatment for eczema, because it is not thick enough to trap in moisture. You need to use a thick hand ointment, something that feels greasy and goes on thick (hydrolated petrolatum is excellent). You also will need to apply it multiple times throughout the day, every day, especially after washing your hands. If there are particular stubborn areas of dryness you can apply an over the counter topical steroid cream to these areas. The second issue that I think you are dealing with is contact dermatitis, an inflammatory reaction to the metal in your rings. There is not real cure for this condition other than to remove the rings. The areas of inflamed skin under the ring will clear up with a little steroid cream. Talk to your primary care doctor if the issue does not clear up quickly.

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