Lotion for Cracked Hands
Cracked hands are a common problem, especially during the winter months. Cracked or chapped hands can be uncomfortable and painful, making it difficult to perform daily tasks. In most cases, chapped hands can be treated at home. Your cracked hands can be treated and prevented by first avoiding moisture loss in your hands, choosing an effective lotion to moisturize your hands and applying the lotion when your hands need it the most.
Cracked hands occur when there is not enough moisture in the outer layer of the skin called the stratum corneum. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, this occurs when protective oils in the stratum corneum are lost, and the moisture that normally is present in the skin escapes. This decrease in the protective oils can be caused from too much soapy water, exposure to harsh chemicals, the normal aging process and certain types of skin diseases. When the outer layer of the skin dries out, it shrinks and small cracks can occur.
The main ingredients in lotions are humectants and emollients. Humectants are substances such as urea, glycerin and alpha hydroxy acids that absorbs the water from the air and holds the moisture in the skin. They are useful for the softening of the skin. Emollients such as lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum, replace the lost protective oils in the skin. They are oil-based or water-based. Oil-based lotions leave a residue on the skin but have better staying power than water-based lotions. Examples of water-based lotions are Vanicream and Cetaphil. Eucerin is an example of an oil-based cream.
Choose an oil-based lotion that contains urea or propylene glycol for your dry hands. For cracked hands, oils work better at preventing water from evaporating from your hands than lotions or creams. MotherNature.com suggests inexpensive options, such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly, Crisco, cocoa butter, lanolin or lemon oil to sooth cracked hands.
To prevent and heal cracked hands, apply an oil-based lotion at least twice a day. Suggests applying lotions immediately after washing your hands or bathing, and before going outdoors in cold weather. Soaking your hands in mineral oil or an oil-based lotion at the end of the day can also help heal cracked hands.
When trying to heal your cracked hands, it is necessary to avoid putting your hands in water whenever possible. Wearing gloves when doing chores can also prevent your hands from becoming further chapped. Use hand towels instead of hot-air blowers to dry your hands when you do have to wash them. The hot air blowers can cause further damage to your hands. If lotions are not helping your dry hands, HealthCentral.com suggests over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams to treat badly chapped hands. If oil-based lotions or hydrocortisone creams do not work, contact your dermatologist.
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