Chapped hands


Cracked hands are a common problem, especially in the cold season.

Cracked and dry hands are a common problem, especially at low temperatures when the skin is stressed by cold and dry heating air. The skin becomes rough and flaky, and frequent hand washing or contact with chemicals make these symptoms even worse.

It should be noted that cracked hands are not only a cosmetic problem, they also pose a health risk. By damaging the skin's natural protective acid mantle, it is less protected against environmental influences and becomes more susceptible to inflammation and allergies. For this reason, cracked hands are to be taken seriously and should be treated with appropriate care.

Protective measures such as wearing gloves when in contact with cleaning agents or other chemicals should be observed in order to alleviate or even prevent skin problems. In some cases, cracked and rough hands can be a symptom of a skin condition, allergy, or illness such as diabetes (diabetes mellitus). In these cases, the cause of the problem should be identified and the underlying disease treated accordingly.

Various causes can lead to a loss of function of the so-called protective acid mantle of the skin. This is usually produced by sebum glands that are found all over the skin and is made up of a special water-fat mixture that keeps moisture inside the skin and protects it from harmful external influences. A lack of fat and moisture leads to a loss of function of this protective barrier of the skin. Then the hands become cracked and dry.

Structure and function of the skin

The skin is that largest organ of the human organism and fulfills a variety of functions. This includes vital functions like the protection of the body from pathogens, Cold or heat as well as before dry out. Also Sensations such as the perception of pain, touch, vibration, temperature or tactile sensation are perceived through the skin.

On the hands and especially on the Fingertips the perception of these sensory perceptions is particularly well developed; these sensations are disturbed by cracked hands and damage to the skin. The water and heat balance (e.g. sweating at elevated body temperature) are also regulated by the skin.

In order to be able to fulfill all of these functions, the skin is made up three layers of fabric built up. The outside lies Epidermis (epidermis), followed by the Dermis (Dermis) and the Subcutaneous tissue (Subcutis). The top layer of skin consists mainly of horn-forming cells, the so-called Keratinocytes, the one protective layer against the loss of moisture and against pathogens. The dermis is much thicker and more robust, they are located in it annoy, Skin glands, Blood vessels and lymph vessels and many pressure receptors for the sense of touch. The subcutis consists mainly of Adipose tissue, which acts as an energy store and as protection against the cold.


Chapped hands usually feel very dry and rough, parchment-like or paper-like on. Fine cracks, reddened skin areas, small pores and an overall pale appearance (compared to rosy, healthy skin) are part of the complexion of chapped hands. The symptoms are usually aggravated by heat or cold. Typically, there is a feeling of tension that Skin flakes and itches, Pain and open wounds can occur.

In pronounced cases, the cracked hands lead to a so-called Desiccation eczema (Dehydration eczema), which is characterized by fine reticulated Cracks, redness and abrasions presented to the skin. The skin is inflamed and pathogens like bacteria or Mushrooms can easily penetrate. After bathing or showering, it often comes to strong Burning or itching. These severe cases of cracked hands come especially in young children, the elderly as well as people with skin conditions like Neurodermatitis in front. People with vulnerable skin develop cracked hands or dehydration eczema, especially in winter.


The skin on the hands is relatively thin and sensitive, especially since it is usually very stressed. The hands are constantly exposed to environmental influences, which is why they can react quickly to external influences with redness, an itchy rash or cracked, rough skin.

Read more on the topic: Brittle hands

The skin's natural protective acid mantle can be damaged by a variety of factors such as cold, heat, pollutants, solar radiation or air conditioning. Too frequent hand washing or frequent use of soaps and detergents also attacks the natural barrier of the skin and makes the hands more vulnerable. If the skin is not supplied with sufficient liquid and fat again through appropriate care, the result is cracked and dry hands, with unpleasant feelings of tension. In addition, the loss of functionality of the protective acid mantle increases the risk of inflammation and allergies.

Malnutrition or insufficient fluid intake can also lead to cracked hands. A number of other factors such as hormonal influences (e.g. menopause), stress and other psychological stress, as well as alcohol and nicotine consumption, can manifest themselves in rough, dry and chapped hands. In some cases, genetic factors are also involved in the development of cracked hands. The risk of cracked hands also increases with age, as the skin forms less oil and retains less moisture over the years.

In addition, chemical or physical influences, for example in the household or at work, play a role in cracked hands. Chemical substances, detergents and cleaning agents as well as paints and solvents attack the skin on the hands and can lead to rough, chapped hands.

It should not be overlooked that certain diseases can also lead to cracked hands. Skin diseases such as neurodermatitis, psoriasis, contact eczema or fish scale disease (ichthyosis) often show a lack of fluid in the body and in the skin, which is expressed in brittle and chapped hands. Diabetes mellitus or an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism) can change the complexion and manifest themselves in chapped hands.

Read more about thema:

  • Chapped fingers
  • Neurodermatitis on the finger and fingernails

Cracked hands from a fungus

Both fungi can cause cracked skin and cracked skin can promote a fungal infection.

Fungi are usually present on healthy skin of the hands, which do not harm the skin. If there are favorable growth conditions for the mushrooms, for example with very sweaty hands, the mushrooms can multiply. The same applies to excessively stressed or cracked skin on the hands. As a result, they can penetrate the skin and cause fungal infections. The most common pathogens that preferentially attack the skin on the hands are thread fungi. These are also known as dermatophytes. A hand fungus is called tinea manuum in technical jargon. It can be transmitted from person to person. Self-transmission is also possible. Inexplicably, a fungal infection can initially only appear on one hand. If there is a fungal infection in another part of the body, parts of the fungus can collect under the fingernails. This mushroom material can be spread on the same hand or on the other hand or on other parts of the body. A hand fungus can lead to rashes, skin softening and cracked skin. In most cases, itching is accompanying it. Since the hand fungus is contagious, conscientious observance of hygiene measures is necessary. He also needs to be treated. A visit to the doctor is particularly recommended if you already have an immune deficiency. Basic illnesses that can lead to increased hand fungus include diabetes, HIV infections and certain cancers.

Read more about fungal infections on the hands here: Hand fungus.

Chapped hands from disinfectant

Disinfectants can cause cracked skin. Especially if you use disinfectants frequently, we recommend that you regularly apply cream to your hands after disinfecting. In addition, a particularly fatty cream should be used at night. Different authors recommend different products. There is now a range of different disinfectants, some of which have also been developed for very sensitive skin. If the hands have to be disinfected frequently, we recommend that you seek advice from a specialist.


If the cracked hands have been around for a long time or there is a suspicion of an underlying disease, the should Family doctor to be visited. The examination begins with the collection of the medical history (anamnese), which often allows initial conclusions to be drawn about possible causes. Existing illnesses, allergies, Medication and the job a role.

In the physical exam it is determined whether the Complexion has changed in other parts of the body or whether the symptoms are limited to the hands. Even the daily personal hygiene and the Drinking quantities must be inquired about as they have an influence on dry and chapped skin.

Further tests may be needed to establish the diagnosis. For example Urine or blood tests, Allergy tests or checking specific areas of skin with a spatula or microscope may be helpful. If diseases such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid are responsible for the symptoms, special examinations such as a Ultrasound examination (Sonography) the thyroid added.


The therapy for chapped hands depends on the cause of the symptoms. Skin diseases such as psoriasis or neurodermatitis must be treated accordingly, as well as diseases such as an underactive thyroid. Depending on the cause, treatment may consist of preparations containing cortisone or individually tailored skin care may be useful.

It is often important for the person concerned to observe a few things themselves in order to treat chapped hands and prevent dry skin. Washing your hands regularly is important and useful to avoid infections. However, “too much” stresses the skin. Constant contact with hot water and soaps impair the skin's natural protective function. The uppermost horny layer of the skin swells and the tear resistance of the skin decreases. Frequent washing also removes protective fats from the skin, which leads to rough and cracked skin and makes it more permeable to harmful external influences. Hands should be washed regularly and thoroughly, but the use of lukewarm water and skin-friendly soaps without fragrances or dyes is particularly recommended for sensitive hands.

Regular application of lotion to the skin on the hands is also recommended, especially if you work frequently in damp conditions or if you come into contact with chemicals, aggressive cleaning agents, dirt or lubricants. If possible, gloves should be worn during such activities. Consistent and regular care with hand cream helps the skin to compensate for the lack of moisture and fat that results from daily stress, whereby care should not be excessive. Nourishing hand creams should also not contain any fragrances or preservatives in order to avoid skin irritation or allergies.

For chapped and dry hands, highly greasy and rich creams that contain more oil or fat than water are recommended. This prevents water loss through the skin and smooths the rough skin surface. Ingredients such as lactic acid, glycerine or urea (urea) additionally strengthen this effect through their water-binding properties.

Cream for cracked hands

Chapped hands require more oily care than "normal" skin. The creams should be moisturizing as possible. It is individual which products best promote the regeneration of the cracked skin on the hands. In some cases, creams with evening primrose oil or olive oil work well.

Creams that also contain urea also ensure an improved moisture content. The ingredient urea, also called urea, binds the water in the skin. According to this, urea has a hydrating effect. In addition, urea inhibits the growth of microorganisms and thus has an antimicrobial effect. This means that the active ingredient can inhibit the growth of bacteria. Colloquially, urea has a “flaking” effect. In technical terminology, this is known as the keratolytic effect. However, urea is not recommended for acute eczema, but only for dry skin changes. With acute eczema, i.e. with inflammatory changes in the skin, urea can burn severely on the skin and is contraindicated. In some cases, dexpanthenol can soothe cracked skin and improve the complexion.

Do you have an infection on your hands? Learn more about creams that can help with inflammation here: Anti-inflammatory cream.

The creams should be used several times a day. In some cases, it is advisable to rub your hands with a moisturizing cream before going to bed and then to put on cotton gloves. The active ingredients of the cream can take effect overnight. In some cases, intensive hand care during the day can be soothing. The hands should be rubbed with plenty of fatty cream and then wrapped in cling film. It is advisable to allow for an exposure time of 30 minutes. Due to the foil, the cream cannot evaporate as quickly. In some cases, a cream containing cortisone is recommended for severely inflamed hands. If the moisturizing creams are not sufficient, oil baths can in some cases promote the healing process of the cracked skin. Jojoba, almond and olive oil are suitable.

Cream burns

A cracked, damaged and possibly inflamed skin on the hands is very sensitive to certain substances. Creams that contain fragrances or additives such as urea or salicylic acid can cause burning pain. The reason for this are cellular mechanisms. When irritated by e.g. Fragrances or additives in the cells release certain signal substances. These enable the cells to communicate with one another. Ultimately, nerve cells in the brain receive the message that the substances in the cream cause a burning pain.

Coconut oil for cracked hands

For cracked skin on the hands, coconut oil is recommended as a home remedy. Coconut oil contains fatty acids that help smooth out cracked skin. They also promote the regeneration and vitality of the skin. It is recommended to rub the coconut oil on the damaged skin of the hands several times a day.

Are you interested in home remedies for skin problems? Read more here: Home remedies for a rash.

Homeopathy for chapped hands

In some cases, homeopathic treatment, in addition to home remedies or conventional medical treatments, can aid the healing process of cracked skin on the hands. Medical advice is useful. Antimonium crudum, graphites and petroleum are used. As a rule, it is recommended to take homeopathic remedies in potencies D6 and D12. In some cases, low potencies such as D1 to D2 are advisable. There are different ways to take homeopathic medicines. With the low potencies 5 to 20 drops, 1 tablet or 5 globules are recommended 3 times a day.


The most important measure to prevent cracked hands is the Protection of hands from outside influences. For example, hands should be in front cold protected and for this in autumn and winter with Gloves to be covered. Also fatty creams should be used more in winter to protect the skin from the cold air.

Also Exposure to sunlight can lead to cracked hands, which is why the hands with Sunscreens should be protected.

A simple measure for the prophylaxis of cracked hands is one Increasing daily fluid intake The skin not only needs fat, but also enough fluid, which can be achieved by increasing the amount of water you drink.

The Personal hygiene and cleaning should be gentle respectively. Mild soaps and lukewarm water are recommended, and moisturizing and non-perfumed hygiene and care products should also be used. Over the years, the skin increasingly loses moisture and fat, which is why it is particularly useful in older people, rich creams, for example with the addition of Urea (urea) to use. Urea also reduces the feeling of tension in chapped hands and relieves itching. It can make sense to place hand care products wherever the hands are washed so that the care is used regularly and evenly throughout the day.

Natural too Home remedies can be used on cracked hands. Creaming the hands with Evening primrose- or olive oil or a five to seven minute long Bath in lukewarm water a few drops of oil can give the skin sufficient oil and moisture.

The skin on the hands should be protected as well as possible from external influences when working in the garden, at home or at work. Wearing Gloves is a simple but important step in getting the Protective function preserve the skin and prevent cracked hands. In some cases direct contact with Latex or plastic not tolerated in the gloves or perceived as uncomfortable (Latex allergy). In these cases, cotton gloves can be worn under the waterproof gloves, which absorb the sweat produced and prevent the skin from swelling.

Basically, the skin is also made by one healthy lifestyle positively influenced. Regular physical movement, healthy and balanced nutrition such as Relaxation and reducing stress have a positive effect on the entire body, but also on the complexion and chapped hands.

Chapped hands with neurodermatitis

Atopic dermatitis can lead to cracked skin on the hands. There are various phenomena that can manifest themselves on the hands. Dry, cracked, itchy, painful and burning skin areas can develop in the spaces between the fingers as well as on the entire hands or on individual fingertips. If there are cracks and dryness on individual fingertips, experts speak of pulpitis sicca. This phenomenon can also appear separately and suddenly. The fingertips will heal again under treatment. In the acute stage, patients report pulsating, very painful fingertips. One of the main problems of atopic dermatitis is the enormous itching, which can lead to irreversible skin damage due to reflective scratching.

Do you suffer from neurodermatitis with involvement of the hands? Read more about what you can do about it here: Treatment of atopic dermatitis.