Dr. Kent Aftergut, a dermatologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says once hands suffer too much damage, the only recourse is medical care.
"Once you start to see redness, blisters, cracking or itching you need to see a dermatologist," Aftergut says in a statement. "Often a simple medium-strength steroid cream can take care of this."
However, taking some preventive action against chapped hands and lips is always the preferred approach, Aftergut says.
"Hands get worse in winter for two main reasons," Aftergut says. "The air is dryer and the humidity is down, so skin dries out. Winter also coincides with flu season, so many people wash their hands more frequently. Soaps and hand sanitizers are very drying, especially with repeated use."
The notion that drinking more water can keep your hands from drying out is false, Aftergut says.
"The amount of water that you drink has no affect on the moisture of your skin," Aftergut says.
"Using a non-detergent soap that will be less drying to hands and applying frequent moisturizers," he adds.