Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why does the skin on my hands crack and bleed?"


I'm an 18 year old male who has been experiencing this condition since my early teenage years. Every few months, the backs of my hands will start to split and eventually bleed. Applying lotion is painful and all I currently do about it is wait for it to go away. This process does not leave any scars, but is something unpleasant I would like to avoid. Is there anything I could be doing?


You should talk to your primary care doctor. It sounds like you probably have eczema. Eczema is a condition in which the skin is lacking in certain molecules that keep the skin moisturized.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Primary care-doctors near you

This results in excessive skin dryness, leading to cracking, redness, and itching. The most important part of treating eczema is keeping the skin moisturized. Unfortunately, standard lotions and creams are usually not very effective because they are too thin to adequately trap in moisture. It is better to use a thick, greasy ointment (such as hydrolated petrolatum, which is my favorite) and apply it multiple times a day. In particular, you will need to apply it immediately after each time you wash your hands. You should also avoid washing your hands excessively, especially with hot water and harsh soaps, and you should pat your skin dry afterwards rather than rubbing it vigorously. In addition to this, your primary care doctor will probably prescribe you a steroid ointment. These work by reducing the inflammation and itching in the skin and are an essential part of getting the more stubborn areas under good control. Set up an office visit with your doctor! There is definitely a good solution to this problem.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.