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Red Dry Hands

red dry hands

My 3 year old son has had red dry hands for almost 2 weeks now. At first I thought it was because we used Ivory soap for a few baths but I have since discontinued using it and have been using Aveeno soap and lots of lotion and Aquaphor but the condition doesn't seem to be improving. Within the last 2 days it has begin to peel a little tiny bit on the tips which is causing him to chew on them. They are red and the skin is hard and tight. I was recently told that it might be eczema - do you have any advice or confirmation that this is maybe what it is? If so what kind of treatment will work? I'm attaching a photo for your review.

The two most common causes of dry, chapped hands in children are contact dermatitis and eczema. The term “contact dermatitis” means that some irritant substance came in contact with the individual’s skin. The Ivory soap is a possible contact irritant. Frequent hand washing, new gloves or lotions are other possible sources. Does he have a new tricycle with rubber handles? Is he writing with chalk? Is there any new playground equipment at school? Unfortunately, there are dozen’s of possible causes. For this to be a contact dermatitis, there would have to be recurrent exposures. A single exposure contact dermatitis would have healed after 2 weeks.

Eczema is mostly like cause of his red, dry hands. It is an allergic form of dry skin. Eczema is extremely common and the number one rash seen in a pediatric office. It can develop at any age, but is more common in young children. Most patients with eczema have a personal or family history of allergies, eczema or asthma. It typically begin on infants as red, chapped cheeks.

Truthfully, we may never know if this is a contact dermatitis or eczema. In the end, both are treated the same way. Try 1% hydrocortisone cream and Aveeno lotion. Use the hydrocortisone cream two to three time daily. Apply the aveeno immediately after hand washing and baths. If he does not improve after a week of this regiment take him to his doctor.



Written November 2012 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






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