Vitamin C is essential for the health of your skin. If you develop a vitamin C deficiency, you may experience cracked or splitting skin on your fingers and other areas. It is rare for someone in the United States to develop this deficiency, but if you think you aren't getting enough vitamin C, consult your physician.
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Signs of Deficiency
There are several signs of a vitamin C deficiency. These include splits in your skin, and it may also become rough, dry or scaly. Additionally, you may experience dry hair with split ends, inflamed and bleeding gums, nosebleeds, a compromised immune system, anemia, swollen joints and weakened tooth enamel. If you become severely deficient in vitamin C, you can develop scurvy, a condition characterized by these same symptoms. You may also notice bruise-like spots on the skin around your hair follicles if you develop scurvy.
Older adults who become malnourished are at the greatest risk for developing a vitamin C deficiency and its accompanying symptoms. However, smokers also have an increased risk, as smoking lowers the amount of vitamin C in your body. If you are an alcoholic or follow a restrictive or fad diet, you may be at risk for a deficiency as well. People who have malabsorption diseases or who are on dialysis may become deficient, too.
The treatment for scurvy is typically vitamin C supplements, and the dosage and frequency will vary according to the severity of your condition. Typically, your doctor will have you take 800 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day for one week or more, followed by 400 mg a day until you have recovered entirely, according to DermNet NZ. Once you begin the treatment, your symptoms, including the splitting skin, should begin to subside within 24 hours. In the meantime, talk to your doctor about applying a hypoallergenic lotion or cream to moisturize your skin and promote healing.
Prevention and Additional Considerations
Prevent a vitamin C deficiency and its symptoms by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, strawberries, winter squash, cauliflower and potatoes are all excellent sources of this vitamin. Adult males need 90 mg of vitamin C a day, and adult women need 75 mg. If you do not meet the RDA through diet, ask your doctor about adding a supplement to make sure that you do not develop a deficiency. Also let her know about the skin problems you are having and ask about any creams or lotions that may help.