You can see your breath when you speak outdoors, the furnace is getting fired up after a long break and suddenly your hands always feel dry. Ah, yes, the signs that winter has arrived. Dry skin on hands is a common occurrence when the temperature drops due to a few different reasons. In some cases, extremely dry, cracked hands are the result.
What causes dry hands in winter?
With humidity now gone, the cold air outside has no moisture, and the heat being funnelled through our vents to keep our home warm is also dry. When you throw in frequent hand washing—even more frequent in the age of COVID 19—that’s yet another factor stripping the moisture from your hands. That lack of moisture manifests itself in overall dryness. Hands look rough, flaky and chapped and feel tight, uncomfortable and sometimes itchy. In extreme cases, the skin can actually crack.
How to care for and prevent dry hands in winter
- The number one thing you can do for dry skin on hands is to constantly moisturize, even before your hands start to feel uncomfortable. The best time to do it is right after you wash them, as it will trap in the water that your hands just came in contact with. Avoid using harsh cleansers as well as hot water because both will deplete the moisture in your skin even more. Rinse your hands well, paying special attention to the spaces between your fingers, as residual suds can dry and irritate the skin. Keep hand cream around to make it easy—on the bathroom counter, in your bag, by your computer—and be sure to rub it into your cuticles too.
- When it comes to the best hand creams, look for super-hydrating ingredients like shea butter, a vegetable butter extracted from the nuts of the shea tree that contains high levels of omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, which nourishes, softens and repairs the skin barrier. You’ll find it in intensely moisturizing hand creams like La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Mains. Another ingredient to look for in repairing hand creams is glycerin, a soft, clear liquid that captures and retains water and is known for its emollient and protective properties. It’s featured in La Roche-Posay Lipikar Xerand Repairing Hand Cream. When applying the cream, be sure to get the backs of your hands as the skin is thinner there and more likely to chap.
- Wear gloves for any tasks like dishwashing or if you have a job that requires you to immerse your hands in water frequently.
How to treat the skin if it’s cracked
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you end up with extremely dry, cracked hands—they’re no longer just flaky; fissures have formed, which can result in bleeding. When that happens, reach for trusty ingredients like shea butter and glycerin for a serious overnight treatment. Get your hands wet to give them that layer of water, pat them dry and then apply a hand cream for dry skin like La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Mains all over and slip on a pair of cotton gloves. In the morning, your hands will have had a good amount of time to soak up all the moisture and should look and feel much better. Lastly, consider a humidifier in your bedroom; it will add moisture to the air and help with your overnight treatment.