Let’s face it; our hands have been through a tough time these past couple of years. With all the hand washing, nail scrubbing and sanitising – it’s no wonder they are looking a little worse for wear.

Hectic schedules, isolation and lockdowns also mean regular manicure appointments are not always on the top of our agenda. The flip side is that the skin on our hands is very fragile; the digits need specific help to counteract this harsh environment.

Decent hand cream will not only transform the look of your skin, but some have added skincare benefits so they can reverse some of the damage, along with caring for ragged cuticles, and dry nails and also help that elusive manicure last longer.

So, express your gratitude by showering them with a little TLC. We’ve put together everything you need to know about how to get rid of dry skin on your hands to make them feel and look better.

Tips for silky soft hands during the winter months | Alchemy 5

What Causes Dry Hands?

Aside from the use and abuse our hands suffer every day, there are other reasons the skin becomes dry, cracked and itchy:

Environmental

  • Air-conditioning and heating dries out the skin on our hands
  • Sun exposure
  • Climate – winter, wind, humidity

Medical conditions for dry skin on hands

  • Allergic reactions to soaps from over-washing.
  • Allergies to laundry detergents, fabric softeners and other chemicals.
  • Some prescription medications leave skin flaky and parched.
  • Exfoliative keratolysis is an underlying condition where skin peels on the palms of the hands. It normally appears during summer or warm weather as a result of excessive sweating and friction.
  • Psoriasis is another skin condition where cells multiply faster than usual.
  • Dehydration could be a cause. Are you drinking enough water?

The best remedies for curing your dry hands

Treatments for environmental elements

  • Sun exposure: Beauty Daily recommends the Soothing After Sun Balm, which moisturises skin for up to 48 hours after sun exposure and regenerates skin exposed to harsh UV rays.
  • Allergies to chemicals: The skin on your hands may react to soaps, shampoos, sanitisers, preservatives, softeners, moisturisers, dishwashing liquid and other household products that contain chemicals. Keep a diary to see what is upsetting your skin, and then avoid and opt for hypoallergenic alternatives.
  • Climate: Prevent hands from dryness and peeling in winter, windy weather and when it’s humid by moisturising after you wash them. Use lukewarm water for baths and showers. Keep air moist with a humidifier in winter.
  • When to seek medical advice: If you have any signs of infection (fever, redness, pus, worsening pain).

Foods that combat dry skin

Eating certain foods may even help protect and can help to moisturise the skin from the inside – here’s what to include in your diet:

So, which foods should we eat for dry skin on our hands? Choose foods rich in:

  • Vitamin A: milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, oily fish, sweet potato.
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruit, sweet red pepper, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts.
  • Vitamin D: liver, egg yolks, oily fish, red meat and cod liver oil. Also found in soy, oat and almond milk.
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, pumpkin, wheat germ oil.
  • Zinc: Beans, nuts, seafood (especially oysters), dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Selenium: Eggs, dairy products and proteins (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish).
  • Omega 3: Fish, seafood, avocado, seeds, nuts.

Let’s think of natural home remedies, and try these:

  • Wear natural fabrics that let the skin breathe like organic cotton.
  • Wash clothes with mild, fragrance-free detergents.
  • Protect hands with gloves when washing dishes or cleaning the house. Maybe try latex-free versions or wear cotton gloves under the rubber or plastic version if irritation persists.
  • Adding oatmeal to the bath can also ease itching.  You can also use any oats that are free from added chemicals,  flavourings, salts and sugars. Grind the oats into a fine powder using a food processor. Once the oats are fine enough to dissolve in hot water, add one and a half cups to the tub for soaking. Limit soak time to 15 mins to avoid moisture loss.
  • Fresh honey applied to hands as a treatment is a great moisturiser.
  • Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager, says: “Maintaining good habits is a must! Keep hand cream by washbasins, next to your bed and in your handbag – and moisturise after you wash your hands, every, single, time!”

Natural skincare products that relieve dry hands

  1. Aloe vera, shea butter extract and sesame oil have a proven, soothing effect on the skin – find these in Hand and Nail Treatment Cream.
  2. Harungana extract, found in the Super Restorative Age-Control Hand Cream, is a great anti-ageing ingredient, as it plumps and helps prevent sagging skin.
  3. McHale suggests blending a few drops of Blue Orchid or Santal Treatment Oil into your hand cream to restore moisture to cuticles and skin.
Tips for silky soft hands during the winter months | Alchemy 5

What to do for chronic dry skin

If you can’t control dry skin or it’s severe, consult a dermatologist or medical practitioner.

The Academy of Dermatology offers some tips from dermatologists on treating chronically dry skin:

  • Moisturise immediately after washing. Don’t rub the skin dry – pat it.
  • Use an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. Ointments and creams are more effective and less irritating.
  • Choose skincare products made with natural ingredients.
  • In winter, wear gloves to reduce dry skin and protect against getting your hands wet.
  • Don’t sit too close to the heater or open fire in winter – try to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.

Finally, for dehydrated, dry, or broken skin, McHale recommends: “give your hands overnight TLC with an intensive and moisturising mask. Cover hands in a rich hand care cream or buttery mask and cover in cotton gloves for deep absorption.”

Editor’s Tip: Dry hands are ever-so tempting to pick at – so if you have nibbled at a cuticle or you have a tear or crack, here’s the best healing plan:

  • Clean the area thoroughly.
  • Add a dab of rich hand cream and cover with a plaster. This will help to stop you from picking more and allow time to heal.
  • In 24-hours, remove the plaster and it should have started to heal and will be less cracked and sore. Repeat during the daylight hours and pull off before bed to clean and give it time to air.