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Dry Hands Could Mean Eczema

Constant itching may point to larger problem, experts say

FRIDAY, Dec. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If your hands remain dry, cracked, red, and itchy no matter how much lotion you slather on them, you may have hand eczema, a common inflammation of the skin.

Allergies, stress, irritants, and genetic factors are among the many things that can cause hand eczema, says an article in the December issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. The article offers advice on how to deal with dry and irritated hands:

  • Don't wash your hands too often.
  • When you do wash your hands or bathe, use lukewarm water. Pat you skin dry and apply plenty of heavy moisturizer.
  • Use hypoallergenic soap.
  • Frequently apply moisturizing creams.

If these steps don't help soothe dry and irritated hands or your skin is so painful that you're losing sleep, you should see your doctor, who can recommend a number of options to reduce itching and swelling. These include medicinal ointments, prescription antihistamines, or oral corticosteroids. More severe cases may require antibiotics, light treatments, medicated soaks, or even immune-altering oral medication.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about dealing with eczema.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic news release
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