How to prevent dry, cracked hands this winter

(Flickr / athletic cleaner)

The bitter winter cold can be so hard on your skin that it may trigger a condition called hand eczema, which skin experts report affects an estimated 10% of the U.S. population.

Many people will simply dismiss it as dry skin, but the American Academy of Dermatology says hand eczema can be a painful condition that requires treatment.

Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • Dry, chapped skin
  • Patches of redness
  • Inflamed, itchy skin
  • Burning sensation
  • Blisters
  • Deep, painful cracks
  • Bleeding

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Eczema may be caused by skin irritants, allergens, infections and even stress. However, flare-ups are common during the winter months because the air is so dry.

A representative from the National Eczema Association told that the most important thing to do is moisturize your skin with one of the products that have earned the NEA Seal of Acceptance.

Some of these moisturizers cost between $5 to $10 at your local drug store:

  • AVEENO Eczema Therapy Hand Cream
  • AVEENO Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream
  • Cetaphil RESTORADERM Eczema Calming Moisturizer
  • Curél Itch Defense Skin Balancing Moisture Lotion
  • Gold Bond Medicated Eczema Relief Skin Protectant Cream
  • Neosporin Eczema Essentials Daily Moisturizing Cream
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Fragrance Free
  • Vaseline Jelly Original

Follow this link to read more about these products and others on the list.

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Skin experts say that you should wash your hands with lukewarm water and a fragrance-free cleanser, and avoid waterless antibacterial cleansers, which may contain chemicals that are hard on your skin.

Remember to reapply moisturizer frequently, and see a dermatologist if your condition worsens.

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