Alternate Names : Hand Eczema, Dermatitis
Chapped hands are a result of very dry
skin. Dry skin occurs when the moisture, or water, content of the
skin is decreased for any reason.
What is going on in the body?
The surface of the skin holds a certain amount of water. When the water content
decreases, the skin becomes dry, itchy, and uncomfortable. Some people have very
sensitive skin that is easily irritated. Since a person's hands are often
exposed to elements such as cold and moisture, hands may become irritated before
other parts of the body do.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to dry skin. As
people age, their skin
tends to become drier. Dry air, resulting from winter's low humidity and the use
of indoor heat, can cause skin to dry out. Long, hot baths and showers can also
make skin dry.
Factors that increase a person's risk of chapped hands include the following:
frequent handwashing, which may be associated with the person's job
prolonged exposure to cold, dry weather
sunburn or windburn
allergic reactions to skin care products
history of a skin disorder, such as eczema