ZocdocAnswersIs the dry air at my work making my skin crack between my fingers?

Question

Is the dry air at my work making my skin crack between my fingers?

I work in a warehouse and its super dry and dusty all the time. The skin between my fingers is cracked open and stings all the time for the past month or so. Is the dry air making this happen? What can I do about it?

Answer

This sounds a lot like eczema! Eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes dried out and inflamed. Mild cases just case patches of redness and itching, however when it becomes more severe, this can lead to cracking and splitting of the skin, which is what you are experiencing! Eczema occurs primarily because of lack of moisture in the upper layers of the skin. Therefore, the most important way to treat it is through moisturizing! Unfortunately, most people do not sufficiently moisturize, because they use lotions and creams which are not sufficiently thick or sticky to really protect the skin. The best moisturizers are things like hydrolated petrolatum, which have a greasy "vaseline" consistency. These should be applied multiple times throughout the day and especially after washing your hands (hot water and soap makes skin dryness worse). You also may want to try to limit your hands' exposure to irritating chemicals and substance. You might be able to do this by wearing gloves while at work, for example. Finally, a topical steroid cream is probably necessary. You could start with over the counter hydrocortisone cream, but if that doesn't work then you will need to see your primary care doctor for a stronger medicine.

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