How to Treat Dry Hands, According to Experts

It takes more than just hand cream to keep your skin soft and smooth.

How to Treat Dry Hands
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While the skin on our hands is pretty tough, it’s still susceptible to skin concerns like dryness. An often forgotten part of the body when it comes to skincare, our hands deserve the same T.L.C. we give our face, especially during the cold winter weather. Because let’s face it — no one wants to deal with dry hands

So, if you’ve been dealing with dry, cracked skin on your hands and looking for ways to treat and prevent it from happening in the future, you’ve come to the right place. We tapped two dermatologists to understand why our hands get dry in the first place, how to treat dry hands, and what products we should be incorporating into our daily routine. See their advice below. 

Why are your hands dry?

There are many reasons why you might have dry hands. The first is the environment. Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified Dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine says that windy and cold climates lack moisture in the air which results in the skin losing its moisture when dealing with such weather. 

The next common cause is water exposure. Excessive hand washing, cooking, house cleaning, and long shower and baths all contribute to your hands feeling so dry. She explains that water and soap, especially soaps with harsh ingredients like sulfates, strip your hands of their natural oil and lead to dryness. (You’ll also want to be wary of overusing certain hand sanitizers, as those oftentimes include alcohol and can strip your skin of moisture). 

Mojgan Hosseinipour, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Moji Dermatology & Aesthetics adds that dry hands can be a symptom of certain skin conditions such as eczema or medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. If you’re currently or have gone through cancer treatment, she says that too can contribute to your hands being dry. 

How to treat and prevent dry hands:

One of the best forms of treatment is a hand cream. You’ll want to use a nourishing cream after you wash your hands because, as Dr. Graf explains, it regularly replenishes any lost moisture and will help combat and prevent dryness.

Dr. Hosseinipour agrees and adds that incorporating certain habits into your daily routine will make a world of difference in keeping your skin moisturized. These habits include patting your hands with a towel until they are completely dry and wearing gloves when washing dishes to avoid direct contact with irritating detergents. She also suggests applying a thick moisturizer to your hands and covering them overnight with cotton gloves to allow the skin to soak up moisture while you sleep. Dr. Graf also advises wearing gloves in cold and windy weather for added protection.

You’ll also want to remember the sunscreen, she says. The sun and its harmful UV rays can not only result in loss of moisture but can also speed up the aging process if skin is not well protected. So when you put on your daily face sunscreen, don’t forget to pay attention to your hands and the rest of the body as well. 

What are the best types of hand creams and lotions?

The good news is that the same ingredients you look for to moisturize your face and body are pretty much the same go-tos for your hands. “Like we do when we want to moisturize our faces, find humectants, occlusives, and emollients to moisturize your hands,” says Dr. Graf. “Humectants like glycerin attract water to the skin. Occlusives like shea butter help the skin retain the water, and emollients like lanolin and jojoba oil nourish and add extra hydration.” 

Ingredients you’ll want to stay away from, she says, include fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and alcohol as those can be extra irritating and stripping of moisture. 

She recommends something like the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, which she says uses glycerin to help heal dry skin. Dr. Hosseinipour likes the EltaMD So Silky Hand Crème for its fragrance-free formula, which contains ceramides, emollients, and antioxidants, that is gentle enough for even the most sensitive hands. She also likes the Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream as it contains ceramides and shea butter to provide hydration without leaving the hands feeling greasy. 

If your hands are persistently dry to the point where it’s uncomfortable and showing signs of cracking, rashes, persistent itching, and flaking, then you should seek professional help ASAP. 

“Dry skin can be a sign of a skin condition that needs treatment,” says Dr. Hosseinipour. “If you still have dry skin after following these tips, you may need a dermatologist’s help.” 

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