If you've ever had dry hands, you'll understand how uncomfortable (and even painful) dehydrated mitts can be. With winter fast approaching — there's a Game of Thrones quote in there somewhere — it's crucial to learn some of the best tips for dealing with dry hands, so we can all avoid unnecessary discomfort. After all, no matter how big a GoT fan you are, you probably don't want to look like you've got grayscale infected hands IRL. Sorry Ser Jorah.
It seems that winter, cruel mistress that she is, takes pleasure in wreaking havoc on hands. Personally, my hands react terribly to the cold air and harsh winds of the British winter. They are left ragged and ripped, and in their worst states, they have cracked so much they've bled. Your situation may be different — perhaps the winter where you're situated isn't as severe, but your hands suddenly got super dry. That seems to be how dryness strikes: One moment your hands are perfectly moisturized, the next, you glance down and you don't even recognize them.
So if you're a dry-handed human in distress, you might want to take note of these tips on how to deal with the dryness and return your hands back to their original state.
1. Wash Your Hands As Little As Possible
"Wash hands as infrequently as possible," recommends Dr. Hadley King, dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa, "When you must wash, use a gentle cleanser such as Dove."
Dr. Janet Prystowsky also says that it's best to avoid washing your hands more than you need to, and she's got some great products in mind for when you must. "When you do wash your hands, I recommend Aveeno Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (found in the baby aisle) or a Dove Beauty Bar. I’ve been working with the Dove brand and have recommended their beauty bar for years."
Alternatively, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, an NYC dermatologist, explains via email that it might be best to give water a miss altogether. “Consider water free options," says Dr. Zeichner, "like some hydrating cleansing lotions which can actually be applied to the skin and wiped off without water.”
2. Avoid Hand Sanitizers Containing Alcohol
Squeaky Clean Alcohol Free Instant Hand Sanitizer With Moisturising Aloe Vera 16oz, $14.34, amazon.com
“Avoid alcohol based hand sanitizers or even over washing with traditional soaps.” Says Dr. Zeichner.
Alternatively, if you're going to use sanitizer, use one with the right ingredients. “Use a hand sanitizer with emollients instead of washing when possible," Dr. King says.
3. Protect Yourself With Rubber Gloves
Ada Lamela, licensed esthetician and Global Corporate Educator at Pevonia, suggest taking protective proactive measures with your hands. “Wear gloves — protect your hands when using harsh soaps and water."
4. Moisturize Regularly
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Fragrance Free 2oz, $15.32, amazon.com
But what about after you wash your hands? “Follow immediately with emollients such as Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. Use emollients frequently, and the heavier and thicker they are the more helpful they will be.”
“As the seasons change, begin to incorporate a lightweight hand lotion throughout the day and look for hand washes that contain moisturizing ingredients.” Heather Wilson, licensed esthetician and Director of Brand Development at InstaNatural, explains over email. It’s also beneficial to make moisturizing a part of your routine. Wilson explains, “For a more intense treatment, I love to massage a pure organic oil such as InstaNatural’s Argan Oil onto my nails, cuticles, and hands. Because this can be heavier than a hand lotion, it is best done before bed and it makes a great evening relaxation ritual."
Lamela also believes in regular moisturizing. She says, “Apply hand cream in the morning before heading out and before going to bed. My favorite product that I recommend to treat dry hands — Pevonia’s Multi-Active Hand Cream, the perfect daily hand renewal and hydrating moisturizer for rough, dry, calloused, and frequently washed hands with a tender hint of Bitter Almonds.”
5. Use Rich Creams To Battle Hand Eczema
“Dry, itchy, cracked hands are referred to as hand eczema. You may develop redness, scaling, itching, or even cracks in the skin. Some people may have small blisters along the sides of the fingers as well, known as dyshidrotic eczema.” Dr. Zeichner says, “To treat hand eczema, you want to first improve your skin barrier, allowing the skin to better protect itself. Choose a rich hand cream to hydrate and protect the skin.”
6. Vaseline Works Wonders
Vaseline First Aid Petroleum Jelly 13oz, $4, amazon.com
“Use Vaseline or Aquaphor. These products are really the best at dealing with dry hands." Says Dr. Prystowsky, "The only complaint people seem to have is slippery hands, but that is very easy to deal with. After spreading a dime’s worth of Vaseline or Aquaphor over both hands, take a tissue and wipe it off. Really. Because, even though your hands will feel dry again, there will still be a thin layer that retains moisture and protects your dry hands.”
7. Heal Your Hands While You Sleep
Haven Spa Senior Esthetician, Stalina Glot, tells me over email, “Put on warm olive oil and gloves for the night.” It sounds a little strange but, hopefully, you’ll see an improvement by the time you wake up.
8. Don’t Forget To Exfoliate
Fractionated Coconut Oil, $13.95, instanatural.com
“In addition to moisturizing, your hands benefit from exfoliation just as much as the rest of your skin," says Wilson, "To make a quick hand scrub, combine a tablespoon each of sugar and InstaNatural’s Fractionated Coconut Oil and massage into the skin, concentrating on knuckles and your palms, and immediately follow with a moisturizer.”
9. Treat Inflamed Hands With An Hydrocortisone Ointment
“Finally, if the skin is inflamed try an OTC hydrocortisone ointment twice daily for up to 2 weeks. If it is not helping, visit your dermatologist for prescription options," says Dr. Zeichner.
Be sure to follow this expert advice and you'll be waving goodbye to dry, cracked hands in no time!