Chapped hands and nails don’t just occur in the winter. The weather is only one element that can contribute to dry, scaly, or rough hands. For those who deal with chapped hands regularly, it’s important to know how to care for them, to ease discomfort.
Sometimes, slathering on hand cream isn’t quite enough.
What Causes Chapped and Dry Skin on Hands?
Chapped, dry hands can be caused by many factors. Here are some of the most common:
- The Weather – A cold climate, especially one with dry air (less water in the air) can be incredibly drying for the skin.
- Job Environment – Some jobs require frequent hand washing, the need for hands to be immersed in water, or exposure to harsh chemicals. Hand sanitizers are also incredibly drying.
- Skin Conditions – Certain skin conditions can lead to dry, chapped, and irritated skin on the hands.
- Other Medical Conditions – Some autoimmune disorders may cause skin issues that may leave the hands dry and scaly.1
- Low-Quality Hand Creams – These often contain parabens and other low-quality ingredients that can actually make your hands drier.
The Best Remedies for Dry, Chapped Hands
The obvious first choice to soothe chapped hands is to use a good moisturizing cream. But for very dry, chapped skin, oils may also be beneficial.
1. What Makes a Good Moisturizing Cream?
An effective moisturizing cream for chapped hands won’t just moisturize – it will help seal moisture into your hands. You should look for ingredients in moisturizing creams that include:
- Humectants attract moisture into the skin (like ceramides, glycerin, lactic acid, or hyaluronic acid/sodium hyaluronate).
- Emollients fill in the spaces between skin cells to smooth the skin (such as linoleic, linolenic, and lauric fatty acids, as well as aloe vera).
- Occlusives – help seal moisture into the skin. The ingredients may be a little more greasy (look for petroleum jelly, silicone, lanolin, mineral oil, and jojoba oil).2
Note: Most moisturizing creams work best when applied to the hands while they’re still slightly damp. This helps to seal in more moisture.
2. How Good is Olive Oil for Moisturizing Dry Skin?
Moisturizing creams aside, some oils can also provide incredible moisture to the skin. Olive oil is one of those. It’s loaded with antioxidants which help to fight free radicals that contribute to the aging process.3
But olive oil is also high in squalene, which is often compared to the skin’s natural sebum – great for softening the skin.4 Obviously, applying olive oil to your hands is going to leave you with some rather oily digits. So here’s a trick:
Apply around a teaspoon of olive oil and then either wrap your hands in cling film or pop on some cotton gloves to help the oil better penetrate your skin. Sit back and relax, or even sleep in your gloves for super smooth hands in the morning.
3. Does Coconut Oil Help Hand Dermatitis?
Coconut oil has been hailed as a great way to deeply moisturize very dry, irritated skin. The benefits of coconut oil lie in its lauric acid – a wonderfully fatty, nutritious acid that’s also a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin, and it hydrates quickly.
However, itchy, dry skin reacts differently to different ingredients. Just because coconut oil may be a great success for some sufferers, it may not be for you. In fact, some individuals with sensitive skin may find that they’re allergic to coconut oil and that it actually worsens their dry skin.5
Before you slather on coconut oil all over your dry, chapped hands, try a patch test. Apply it to a small area of skin, wait 24 hours (or more) to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.
What Skin Care does a Dermatologist Recommend to Prevent Dry Skin?
Dermatologists generally recommend these skin care steps to help combat dry skin.
- Avoid hot water and opt for shorter baths and showers in lukewarm water.
- Avoid harsh soaps. If your workplace only has abrasive soaps, then take your own to work.
- Always opt for gentle cleansers over soaps.
- Immediately after a bath, shower, or washing your hands, rub a good moisturizing cream onto your skin while it’s still damp.
- If your skin is extremely dry, first apply oil to damp skin, then top with a moisturizer.
- Use a humidifier in your home to combat a dry climate. The ideal humidity for healthy skin is a minimum of 45-55%.
- Drink plenty of water to help moisturize your skin from the inside out.
- Wear gloves if you need to have your hands immersed in water – i.e. dishwashing.
Skin Care Ingredients Matter
When your hands are chronically dry and chapped it can be easy to think, “I don’t want to ever wash my hands!” But by using gentle, creamy hand cleansers, avoiding hand dryers, and immediately applying a good moisturizer, there’s no need to fear the wash basin.
If your hands are suffering, it’s probably best that you carry key items, like moisturizer and creamy hand cleanser, in your handbag at all times.
5 Essential Anti-Aging Tips for Youthful Looking Hands
The Incredible Benefits of Castor Oil for Hair and Skin
12 Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel For Hair, Skin, & Nails