Our hands are one of the most often used parts of our bodies. However, daily chores, exposure to cleaning products, and environmental factors can take a toll and lead to dry hands.
While not necessarily a serious medical condition, dry hands can be irritating and even painful when left untreated. Normal tasks like dishwashing, writing, or even typing out a message can be unpleasant with dry skin on your hands.
Symptoms of Dry Hands
Our skin consists of three layers: the surface (or epidermis), the underlying layer (or dermis), and subcutaneous tissue. If the epidermis does not retain enough moisture or if its protective layer gets stripped away, it can lead to the following:
- Itchy or scaly skin, one of the most common signs of dry hands
- A rash or redness, which often persists for prolonged periods
- Rough or tight skin that may indicate a lack of moisture
- Chapped or cracked skin
- Sensitive hands
Common Causes of Dry Hands
Dry hands are typically caused by three main factors:
1. Daily Tasks
Overwashing of your hands, especially if you find yourself washing your hands much more than before. Soaps and sanitizers work by removing the lipid membranes of bacteria. Unfortunately, this same process also strips away our skin’s own lipid barrier.
2. Exposure to Chemicals and Irritating Ingredients
If you find yourself washing your hands and using hand sanitizer often, you may notice that your hands are dry and itchy. Daily chores, like dishwashing and house cleaning, can also expose your hands to chemicals and ingredients that can dry out your hands. This is because they can strip away the oils that make up your skin’s protective barrier.
If you think your current products might be to blame, look for any drying or irritating ingredients in your products retinol, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid.
3. Environmental Conditions
Hot water can irritate your skin and strip away natural oils more quickly than cold or lukewarm water. To prevent dry skin, keep your showers short and not scorching hot.
On the other side of the temperature range, cold weather can also lead to dryness on your hands. Winter weather tends to mean dry and cold air, which can remove moisture from your skin. Be sure to moisturize your hands to protect them from drying environmental conditions.
How to Treat Dry and Rough Hands
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The primary cause of dry hands is lack of moisture, so proper hydration and moisture retention are key to restoring your skin’s tone and texture. Here are our top tips for caring for your hands and restoring moisture to dry hands:
- Use a gentle hand soap to clean your hands without stripping away the moisture wash your hands with cool water (not hot!) to avoid drying and irritating your skin.
- For extremely dry hands, switch to a moisturizing hand wash: These are designed to relieve dryness with a pH-balanced formula and soothing moisturizers. This kind of product combines the cleansing properties of soap with the hydrating effects of a moisturizer.
- Hand sanitizers tend to dry the skin more than soap. When using a sanitizer, apply lotion afterward to avoid dryness. But, make sure your hands are completely dry before applying moisturizer. Sanitizer gel can repel the moisturizer and make your moisturizer less effective.
- Try an ultra healing body balm or hand cream: If your hands are extra dry and itchy, these products are formulated are designed to repair and rescue extremely dry skin.
- Use a wet skin moisturizer: This type of product helps lock in moisture and absorbs quickly so it’s perfect to apply after washing your hands.
- Wear gloves: When doing the dishes or using cleaning supplies to avoid drying out your skin.
- Deep condition your hands at night: Use a nourishing body butter. For a DIY mask for your hands, cover your hands with a generous amount of body butter and carefully cover your hands with socks. Covering your hands with socks helps prevent the lotion from rubbing off overnight to hydrate your hands while you catch your beauty sleep.
How to Care for Your Hands
Treating dry skin is good for your hands, but prevention is even better. Here’s how you can avoid getting dry hands and create your personal hand moisturizing routine.
1. Use a Moisturizing Soap When Washing Your Hands
Opt for a moisturizing soap or liquid hand wash when washing your hands. If you wash your hands multiple times a day, avoid using scorching hot water as it can dry out your hands. Instead, use cold or lukewarm water.
2. Try a Wet Skin Moisturizer
Unlike many moisturizers, wet skin moisturizers are designed to be applied to wet skin. These types of moisturizers are water-activated, so after washing your hands, don’t completely dry them. Apply moisturizer while still your hands are slightly damp to better lock in moisture.
3. Wear Gloves When Doing Daily Tasks
Use gloves when doing the dishes, cleaning the house, or any activity that exposes your hands to household disinfectants and other chemicals. When you’re done, wash your hands to remove any leftover cleaning products and apply moisturizer to prevent dryness.
4. Protect Your Skin From Exposure When Outside
Treat your hands just like you treat your face. Keep them covered and away from direct sunlight if you’re outside often. When going swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen to protect your hands from harmful UV rays that can dry out your skin and cause long-term damage. During winter, wear gloves to protect your skin from dry winter air, which can dry out your skin.
When to Seek Dermatologist Help
If your dry hands are caused by eczema or another skin condition, you may develop complications such as infection or deformed fingernails. Hand eczema can cause the following:
- Dry, chapped skin, patches of red (or dark brown) irritated skin
- Scaly and inflamed skin that may itch
- A burning sensation, itchy blisters, deep, painful cracks, and bleeding
Because it often looks like dry skin, hand eczema can easily be mistaken for dry skin. People who frequently have to wash their hands will want to apply moisturizer immediately. Also, avoid using hot air dryers if you have dry hands.
People with eczema and other skin conditions should take steps to prevent flares. This may include reducing stress and following all recommendations from a doctor. Certain symptoms may indicate a severe problem, such as skin discoloration, bleeding, extreme redness, drainage, and swelling.
If your dry hands don’t improve with home treatments or if you have any of the above symptoms, you should seek help from a medical professional.
Our Top Tips for Dry Hands
Your skincare routine probably includes different types of lotions and potions for your face and body. However, your hands need TLC too! Use the following tips to prevent and care for dry hands:
- Use mild soap and cold water when washing your hands.
- Moisturize after washing hands and use a daily moisturizer throughout the day.
- Keep your hands protected from household chemicals, drying ingredients, sun exposure, and cold air.
- If your hands are dry and itchy, use an ultra healing hand cream to combat itchiness and relieve redness.
- Before going to bed, use a luxurious body butter to nourish your hands and protect them from dryness.
- Lastly, remember to moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize!