Our hands are our direct means of connecting with the world and are exposed to a lot of irritants. The structure of the skin on our hands makes them less able to retain moisture and more prone to extreme dryness than other parts of our body. Symptoms vary in seriousness from minor cracks around our cuticles to larger cracks on our fingers, thumbs, and knuckles.
In most cases, dry hands are caused by cold weather due to loss of humidity outside and an increase in indoor heating. Washing hands can cause the hands to dry out and crack because the soaps can remove the protective oils.
Washing hands with hot water makes it easier for the hands to dry out and worsen conditions like eczema. While strong hand soaps with a high pH can literally strip the skin’s natural oils resulting in dryness and irritation.
Using too much hand sanitizer with a high alcohol content can also try hands out and compromise the skin barrier. But don't worry, here are multiple ways to prevent and treat dry itchy hands.
How To Treat Dry Hands
If you are washing your hands a lot or live in a cold climate, you may experience dry hands often and maybe even eczema.
There are several ways on how you can treat or prevent dry hands and keep your thirsty skin hydrated:
- Applying Fighter Gel
- Wear Gloves
- Decrease Stress
- Consider Medication
- Overnight Dry Skin Treatment
- Prescription Creams
- Hydrocortisone Cream
- Wet Wrap Therapy
1) Apply the Banish Fighter Gel – The Banish Fighter Gel is a skin soothing aloe based gel which soothes skin and fights inflammation too. This gel can be applied on areas of redness, dry hands, dry flaky skin, as well as on eczema and psoriasis. The Banish Fighter Gel contains wound healing and eczema fighting ingredients such as arnica, dimethyl sulfone, and organic gotu kola.
2) Moisturize – Applying a rich moisturizing cream or lotion several times per day as they help restore your skin’s moisture and seals it back to the skin.
3) Wearing Gloves – Frequently washing dishes or working with solvents or chemicals can also get your hands frequently immersed in water or irritated. Wearing gloves help protect your hands from the solvents and also from strong detergents that could damage and irritate your hands.
4) Decreasing Stress – Stress and eczema are quite related or associated with each other.
It's important to have some time for self-care to de-stress as reducing the stress level can help you avoid having dry skin or dry hands, especially if you have eczema.
5) Considering medication – Having eczema or other skin conditions may require medications to allow your skin to heal. You may be prescribed a steroid or antibiotic to help with your skin condition like eczema.
6) Treating dry skin overnight – One of the best treatments for dry hands would be slathering them with lotion or a petroleum based moisturizer such as Vaseline. Then cover your hands with a pair of loose fitting soft gloves or socks to create a protective barrier.
7) Asking about prescription cream – Your skin specialist or dermatologist may recommend or prescribe a special lotion containing lactic acid or urea to help with dry skin depending on the cause.
8) Applying hydrocortisone cream – A dry skin may lead to a worsened skin condition known as dermatitis where the skin becomes inflamed and red. Applying a lotion containing hydrocortisone may help soothe the irritated skin. However, this should not be used consistently for a long term since hydrocortisone creams could cause thinning of the skin when used for several weeks without breaks and create a worse problem.
9) Using a wet dressing (Wet Wrap Therapy) – Cracking of skin caused by dryness needs treatment before it fully heals. Using a wet dressing or wet wrap therapy may treat your dry hands.
What Causes Dry Hands?
There are a lot or numerous ways as to how your hands can be dried up. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of dry hands:
- Overwashing hands
- Hot Water
- Detergent in Soap (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
- Too much hand sanitizers
- Weather Conditions
- Environmental Irritants
- Medical Conditions
1) Overwashing – Repeated or frequent washing of hands may result in dry, flaky or parched skin. It may also flare up eczema too. But of course, don't avoid washing hands since its necessary to prevent spread of bacteria and viruses.
2) Hot Water – Using hot water will only dry your hands and lead to skin damage so it’s best to use either cold or lukewarm water.
3) Detergent In Soap (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
Sulfates are those detergents or surfactants commonly found in products like shampoos, body wash, cleansers, toothpaste and even the household products we’re using. According to a senior database analyst, the most common sulfate-based ingredients found in your personal care products are the sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and the sodium laureth ether sulfate (SLES) – collectively or commonly known as sodium laureth sulfate.
This ingredient can often dry out the skin, most especially our hands and it can get worse the longer the product stays in contact with our skin.
4) Using too much hand sanitizers containing 60% alcohol – We know….. we can’t help but carry along our hand sanitizers with us when we’re either away from home for work, school or some extracurricular activities we are joining, but using too much hand sanitizers even when we’re only at home can also dry up our skin and hands.
Yes, soap and water rinses away germs and dirt but they also strip the natural and protective oils in your skin (particularly the hands). Our hands can get dry, cracked and raw by causing so much irritation to our skin. The alcohol based hand sanitizers we use either at home or outside can both kill the microbes on skin and irritate our hands at the same time.
5) Weather conditions – Climate changes can also cause our hands to become dry as decreased air moisture draws out the moisturize in our skin, particularly our hands.
6) Environmental irritants – Environmental irritants include air pollutants and cigarette smoke as well as humidity levels. These irritants can cause your skin or hands to dry up. Even a workplace condition can dry up your skin, especially when you’re working in a factory, a hairdresser, or even an office where the heater or ac is always on.
7) Medical conditions such as eczema - Eczema is a type of skin inflammation that is characterized by itchy, reddened dry skin often caused by dryness, soaps and detergents, cleaning products, rubber gloves and cosmetic lotions and creams. Eczema may lead to prolonged scratching which then results in a reddened, irritated, scaling skin or leathery thickening of skin.