Ask A Pharmacist

How To Heal Dry, Chapped Hands

Our Customers Asked:

Why do my hands get so dry in the winter and what can I do to help?

Our Experts Answered:

When there’s sufficient humidity in the air, your skin maintains an ideal balance of water and oil so it looks and feels soft, supple and healthy. In the winter, humidity levels drop, which causes water from the skin to evaporate more quickly. In fact, your skin’s ability to hold in moisture drops by more than about 25% during the winter!

Basically what this does is damage your skin’s delicate barrier. The air strips the skin of its natural moisture and oftentimes, it isn’t replenished quickly or effectively enough. And as you continue to expose your skin to winds, dryness and harsh soaps, all the ashiness and flaking become aggravated.

“Your skin’s ability to hold in moisture drops by more than about 25% during the winter.”

You’d think the solution is simple: Use a lotion as much as possible, right?

Yes… and no. Moisturizing is important, but you need to be super selective when you’re choosing hand products to ensure you’re actually addressing the issue.

Many lotions are simply too light to lock in the moisture your skin desperately needs to heal. Opt for a thicker cream or ointment that contains protective and hydrating ingredients as well as those proven to seal in the moisture, such as:

  • African Shea Butter: ultra-rich, creamy and moisturizing
  • Vitamin E oil: an incredibly healing antioxidant
  • Plant oils: like avocado, olive and jojoba
  • Glycerin: an organic compound that attracts moisture to your skin
  • Ceramides: natural fats found in the skin barrier
  • Urea: extremely therapeutic and moisturizing

Below are some of our favorite hand washes and creams that include some of these fabulous skin-revivers:

Hand Washes

Hand Creams

Bonus tips for moisturizing your dry, chapped hands

  • Moisturize your hands when they’re still damp, which helps the cream absorb and penetrate more deeply.
  • Apply hand cream as much as you can throughout the day and at bedtime to keep your hands protected.
  • Here’s a handy trick: If you ever run out of hand wash, don’t fret. Wash your hands with a body wash. Body formulas tend to be made specifically to be gentle and hydrating. Try 80 Acres Hand & Body Wash, which contains glycerin, aloe vera and olive oil.
  • When you dry your hands after washing, pat them on the towel instead of rubbing them.
  • If you’re hands are in really bad shape apply a good amount of hand cream at bedtime and wear a pair of cotton gloves over it to sleep.

Other effective ways to revitalize dry hands during the winter

On top of windy air and the drop in mercury, there are other factors that contribute to stubbornly dry, cracked hands during these festive yet freezing months. Below are the top triggers and how you can address them to avoid alligator skin:

  • Increased use of indoor heaters: We know the arctic air has you turning up the heat, but it’s not ideal for your skin. Wear thicker clothes, try to set the temperature as low as possible and use a humidifier.
  • Overwashing: Although a single hand-washing session lasts under a minute, it certainly adds up if you suds up frequently throughout the day. You might not be able to help if your vocation requires it; if so, carry a hand cream with you and don’t use soap laden with drying elements. Avene Cold Cream is portable and keep your hands moisturized through six washings.
  • Washing hands with too-hot water: Hot water will strip the skin, so always make sure the water is comfortably lukewarm.
  • Using harsh soaps that strip oils: Traditional soaps contain ingredients that strip the skin’s oils, especially anti-bacterial formulas. Use hand washes that contain nourishing and moisturizing ingredients.
  • Dehydration from the inside: Your body is made up of 70% water… well, at least it’s supposed to be. Without proper hydration, it’s impossible for your cells to stay plump and youthful. Drink lots of water and eat healthy fats, like salmon and avocados.
  • Stay clear of antibacterial gels: They tend to contain more than 60% alcohol and are incredible drying. Regular hand soap is good enough.

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