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Dry Flaky Hands With Small Scabs

author image Linda Ray
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
Dry Flaky Hands With Small Scabs
Take care of your hands because they are very visible. Photo Credit: taratata/iStock/Getty Images

Skin and hair on the hands are highly visible on the body and require a certain amount of care to keep them looking good. While dry flaky hands with scabs may be unappealing, they also might provide clues to other, more serious medical complications according to Women's Health, a federal information service. Dry flaky skin can indicate an infectious disease or a chronic systemic condition. If your skin does not respond to a regular regimen of moisturizing, you should talk to your dermatologist about the condition.

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Chronic Condition

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that often affects the hands and causes them to become dry and flaky. According to Women's Health, eczema is also called atopic dermatitis and usually starts as a red rash on the hands and feet, inside the elbows and on the skin behind the knees. When hands dry out with an outbreak, the skin can crack and seep pus, which then leads to small scabs and eventual scarring.


When blisters that become itchy accompany the flaky skin, you may have impetigo, which is a highly contagious bacterial infection. The skin infection usually is caused by a staph or strep infection, according to Women's Health. The small blisters also tend to form on the face and legs and are followed by thick brown scabs. Impetigo is spread through personal contact and from used towels, bedding, clothes and razorblades from an infected person.


Another type of contagious skin disorder that presents with scabs and flaky skin is scabies. Tiny, microscopic mites that burrow under the skin cause scabies. They lay eggs, which form a thin line on your hands that become dry and itchy. Scabies also can be prevalent in warm folds of skin on your body, such as the abdomen and neck. Scabies also are spread through shared bedding and towels and direct skin contact.

Allergy or Reaction

A type of psoriasis that primarily affects the hands and feet is called pustular psoriasis and affects about 5 percent of people who develop the skin disorder, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The psoriasis can be triggered by a reaction to various medications such as lithium or systemic cortisone or result from sunburn or an infection. The palms of the hands become dry and flaky and develop lesions that are filled with pus. Hands become red, swollen and scaly, and scab-like spots may be left when the outbreak passes.


Once you've found the cause of your dry, flaky skin, you can treat the condition with medication prescribed by your doctor and care for your dry skin with moisturizers and lifestyle accommodations. The cost of a moisturizer does not necessarily determine its effectiveness. Oil-based moisturizers that contain propylene glycol or urea are effective for sealing in moisture and preventing dryness. You should apply the moisturizer after bathing and regularly throughout the day, especially after each hand washing.

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