The bitterly cold winters wreak havoc with my hands, and they always end wintertime looking like something out of a freak show!
TLC and Moisturiser:
My skin reacts terribly to the cold air and severe winds of the British winter, finding my once smooth skin has vanished before my eyes.
Winter seems to take sadistic pleasure in slowly stripping the natural oils from my feeble hands.
All of my positive efforts for better-looking hands undone in the cruel, harsh winter months, leaving them dry, cracked and crying out for TLC and moisturizer!
There are a lot more options other than your standard hand lotion in the cosmetic department these days. The newest generation of hand creams contains a mixture of occlusives, such as petrolatum, that stops moisture from escaping from your skin; humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, which helps your skin retain water; and emollients, such as oils that can do both of these.
And hand creams these days also contain barrier repair ingredients like ceramides, without the proper proportion of ceramides the skin’s barrier can become compromised, that leads to dryness, itching, and irritation. They also have specialized salts to cover the surface like a glove, which prevents vulnerability from the environment like water and other elements the winter likes to put upon them.
Sensitive Winter Skin:
Almost everyone experiences sensitive winter skin at least once in their lifetime, and as the hands are the most exposed and overworked member of our body, they are often unintentionally abused. It’s generally at night that the results from a long day are felt, hands become red, chapped, even swollen, the surface breaks and cracks and they might even bleed.
This is extremely painful, and if left without proper care and attention can result in infection from this damaged skin. What starts as an oversight on our part through lack of hand moisturizer can quickly become a medical condition.
Remember, winter skin is dry skin no matter what part of the body it is on! Our hard-working hands become dehydrated twice as fast in winter.
Yes, to keep drinking plenty of water in winter is a good idea, but, it can not replace the lost moisture in the hand tissue when it has become so dehydrated, in this situation prevention really is better than cure!
Washing Your Hands:
Dry winter hand conditions are often agitated even more by the mere act of washing your hands. Of course, we have to wash our hands, hygiene dictates we wash hands numerous times each day; however, do not wash them in hot water, warm water is more than sufficient, and do not let your hands stay wet too long.
Another way to prevent water getting onto your hands is to do all the dishwashing, household chores, washing the car, and pet cleaning, can and should be done while wearing protective rubber gloves, and do remember moisturize your hands after each job to prevent dry, irritated skin from developing. Do this each time your hands are touched by water.
Avoid all the alcohol-based cleansing gels, as these gels are particularly hard on protective oils that are trying to prevent damage to your hands. If you want beautiful, soft and smooth hands, take care of them and look after them the same way you treat your face or neck.
Dry Cracked Hands Treatment:
Your choice of hand creams include balms, lotions, butter, creams, and oils, your decision should be based on what extent your hands are suffering, and on your skin type.
If your hands go from being dry with slightly rough skin to developing minor splits and cracks that are tender or bleeding, then it’s time to move on to more therapeutic moisturizers.
Petroleum jelly is a solid option, or alternatively, you could pick a thick, creamy moisturizer with a formula that contains denser ingredients such as dimethicone, cocoa, beeswax or shea butter.
You don’t have to keep to one product, you may find something more suitable to keep re-applying throughout the day and use a ‘heavier’ moisturizer at night, the important thing is to get that moisture into your hands daily.
On The Outside:
If you are someone that stays outside most of your day, either due to work or leisure you may have to find additional ways to keep your hands hydrated.
When preparing to go out, apply your moisturizer, then slide hands into a pair of white cotton gloves, by doing this it will help to keep the moisture in your skin, then put on a second pair of protective winter gloves over the first cotton pair. Your hands will soften while driving, walking, even jogging, etc. and you can keep a jar or tube of moisturizer in your car’s glove box to ‘top up’ throughout the day.
If you are unfortunate to suffer from severe dry hands during the winter months by doing this with the moisturizer and white cotton gloves going to bed, and leaving on overnight, it will bring great relief to your hands, and they will feel amazing again by the morning.
Exfoliate Your Hands:
The exfoliation process will help remove those dry, flaky dead skin cells and encourage the growth of new smooth skin.
Immediately after exfoliating, your hands will feel smooth and soft again, but you have to apply moisturizer, or you risk your hands starting to dry out all over again.
Treat Your Hands To A Manicure:
Largely, the hands are the most hardworking part of the human body and warrant being well looked after.
A manicure may be considered a ‘beauty treatment’ but trimming the nails, removing cuticles, exfoliating and moisturizing the skin during a manicure will all help to make your hands look and feel good at any stage of the year, not just the winter months.
So treat your hands once in a while, they deserve it.
If in doubt – see a specialist!
If you are in constant pain due to painful, dry, cracked or bleeding hands and they are not responding to the advice mentioned above, you should arrange to see a dermatologist.
Do you suffer from dry hands in the winter, how do care and look after them? Do you have any other tips for caring for your hands in winter? Please leave any comments or questions below, and I will be happy to discuss them with you.