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How To Prevent and Treat Dry, Cracked Hands

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Dry hands are a common skin concern that nearly everybody experiences at some point in their life. Though generally not concerning, dry hands (and the itching and tightness that often accompany them) can be frustrating to deal with. The severity of the dryness depends on a multitude of factors and can range from minor discomfort to extreme irritation.

While applying lotion or hand cream is the most obvious solution when you’re dealing with dry skin, there are a few other things you can do to help protect your hands and prevent irritation. Ahead, we’ll answer common questions about dry skin on your hands and provide our best tips and tricks to keep skin soft, smooth, and hydrated all year round.

Why Are My Hands So Dry?

Whether caused by environmental or genetic forces, dry hands result from a lack of moisture in the skin. Several factors can lead to dehydrated skin, but the most common are weather-related, lifestyle-induced, or medically-related.

It’s pretty common for people to suffer from dry skin in the winter because cold, arid air can leech moisture from the skin. In severe cases, cold weather can cause extreme dryness and result in painful symptoms such as cracking, peeling, redness, and irritation.

Lifestyle also plays a significant role in the health of hands. People that handle chemicals or work with their hands may be more prone to dryness because of increased exposure to irritants.

Similarly, frequent handwashing, especially with harsh soaps and hot water, can draw out moisture from the skin and result in extremely dry, cracked hands.

Finally, there are several medical conditions that can cause dry skin, including psoriasis and eczema. Certain medications may exacerbate the irritation as well.I

How Can I Treat Extremely Dry Hands?

Determining how to treat dry hands first requires understanding the specific cause. Minimizing exposure to extreme temperatures and chemicals can help you avoid causing or worsening dryness. Similarly, try to keep your hands protected whenever you can—whether that means covering hands with a thick lotion or wearing gloves to keep your hands shielded from the elements.

When your hands are dry, reach for moisturizing treatments formulated to soothe and repair damaged skin. Keep reading to learn our best remedies for soothing dry, cracked hands, plus tips to prevent environmentally-induced skin dryness.I

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Tip #1:

Lock In Moisture

Using a lightweight lotion every day can help to keep your skin hydrated and looking its best. For minor dryness (or to help prevent dry hands altogether), a mild body cream such as the aloe vera-infused Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion may be enough to keep skin soft. After showering, apply a generous amount to your hands and body while your skin is still damp and allow it to absorb.

For extra hydration, particularly if you wash your hands often or live in a colder climate, we recommend a thicker formula, such as Richly Hydrating Scented Hand Cream. This creamy hand lotion features shea butter and vitamin E to lock in moisture for soft, smooth hands. You can use it following a shower, after washing your hands, or anytime your skin feels tight or dry. Aim to use it at least once per day to keep your skin soft, smooth, and well-hydrated.

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Tip #2:

Choose Your Soap Wisely

One of the most common causes of dry hands is something you do every day, multiple times a day: wash your hands. Hot water and harsh soap can dehydrate the skin and strip it of its natural oils.II Protect your hands by turning down the temperature (lukewarm water is best) and reaching for a mild hand soap, such as our classic Liquid Hand Soap. This gentle cleanser is formulated with soothing aloe vera and vitamin E to thoroughly cleanse the skin without over-drying. Head on over to our article, How to Wash Your Hands Without Drying Out Your Skin, for our detailed guide on keeping your hands soft when you’re soaping up frequently.

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Tip #3:

Protect Your Palms

As winter approaches and the weather starts to dip, you’ll likely experience some degree of hand dryness within the coming months. Using a hand lotion for dry hands can help restore lost moisture and instantly smooth and soften hands. Our bestselling Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is a heavy-duty moisture treatment for severely dry hands that can help keep hands looking and feeling healthy. The thick, rich formula contains a blend of softening botanical oils and squalane to soften skin and form a “glove-like” protective barrier against moisture loss without feeling greasy.

You can use it as a daily treatment to soothe scaly skin or as an effective overnight treatment for dry hands. Before hitting the sheets, apply a generous layer of the rich salve and slip on a pair of breathable cotton gloves. The gloves will help lock in moisture (and keep the treatment from rubbing off on your sheets) for super-soft, smooth, hydrated hands.

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Tip #4:

Exfoliate Weekly

Using an exfoliating treatment to slough off dead skin can help ensure your hydrating hand lotions and creams can effectively penetrate the skin. We recommend Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub, which boasts a blend of naturally-derived abrasives, including crushed apricot seeds, to gently yet thoroughly buff away dead skin. It also contains shea butter and cocoa butter to promote softer, smoother skin. Simply apply a small amount to clean hands and massage it in, focusing on dry, cracked areas. After washing off, lock in moisture with the hydrating hand cream of your choice.

We recommend exfoliating at least once a week for the best results, but if your skin responds well, you can increase the frequency to a few times a week—just make sure to follow up with a hand cream for dry skin.

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Tip #5:

Repair and Restore

Like most things in skincare, prevention and protection are easier to accomplish than repair and correction. But even if you take near-perfect care of your hands, you might still deal with extreme dryness every once in a while, especially in the winter. To correct severe dryness—think cracking, peeling, itching, and scaling—reach for a heavy-duty hand treatment with hydrating ingredients, like Intensive Treatment and Moisturizer for Dry or Callused Areas. This soothing, ultra-thick formula contains shea butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil to restore the most parched, damaged skin. Apply it whenever your hands need serious TLC.

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Next: Healthy Skin Habits To Start Now

Sources:
I.Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Dry Skin.” Cleveland Clinic. 13 May 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16940-dry-skinitchy-skin.
II.Mayo Clinic Staff. “Dry Skin.” Mayo Clinic. 20 Aug 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/symptoms-causes/syc-20353885.

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