With winter winds howling, consider taking some preventive action against chapped hands and lips, UT Southwestern Medical Center dermatologists suggest.
“Hands get worse in winter for two main reasons,” says Dr. Kent Aftergut. “The air is dryer and the humidity is down, so skin dries out. Winter also coincides with flu season, so many people wash their hands more frequently. Soaps and hand sanitizers are very drying, especially with repeated use.”
The notion that drinking more water can keep your hands from drying out is false, Dr. Aftergut says. The amount of water that you drink has no affect on the moisture of your skin. Instead, he suggests using a non-detergent soap that will be less drying to hands and applying frequent moisturizers.
If you start to see redness, blisters, cracking or itching, you may be progressing to dyshidrotic eczema or hand eczema, Dr. Aftergut notes.
“Once this happens you need to see a dermatologist,” he says. “Often a simple medium-strength steroid cream can take care of this.”
And don’t forget your lips. Use balm before going outside, particularly if you’ll be outdoors for an extended time.
Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/dermatology to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in dermatology.
Media Contact: Russell Rian
Return to January 2010 News Tips