What Is Good for Dry Hands?
Dry, chapped hands are sore and uncomfortable, especially in harsh, cold climates and during exposure to the elements. A good moisturizer is your first step to dry hand relief, but the American Academy of Dermatology and American Osteopathic College of Dermatology stress the importance of choosing the right ingredients in your product as well as making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk for dry hands.
Choosing Your Moisturizer
An abundance of nonprescription moisturizers can make dry hands feel more comfortable, but some are more effective than others. Select a product that's oil- rather than water-based, as this helps the skin on your hands retain moisture, advises the AOCD. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, ingredients that seal in moisture include lactic acid, urea, alpha hydroxy acids and ammonium lactate. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that the thicker your moisturizer, the better--start with moisturizers with an ointment texture for the best results. Creams are less effective, followed by moisturizers with a lotion consistency. Make sure the label on your product indicates that the moisturizer is hypoallergenic; this reduces your risk for an allergic response.
Overnight Treatment for Dry Hands
Extremely chapped skin may need a hand up; the AAFP suggests rubbing petroleum jelly on dry hands at night, then putting on cotton-lined gloves. Sleep with the petroleum jelly on your hands and wash it off in the morning.
Hand Washing Tips
Hand-washing is an important component of basic hygiene, but exposing your hands to hot water too frequently can make them drier. The National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding hot water during hand-washing. Also, don't use harsh soaps with a lot of fragrance. Instead, choose a mild soap or cleanser with moisturizing properties, advises the AAD. Moisturize your hands right after washing, when your skin it still damp and absorbent--within three minutes of hand-washing, showering or bathing. Wash your hands only as much as required to ensure good hygiene, says the NIH.
Lack of humidity in your home environment can make dry hands worse. MayoClinic.com suggests purchasing a humidifier that best suits your needs to put moisture back into the air. When gardening or performing chores, wear cotton gloves, advises the NIH. Reach for your moisturizer frequently--the AAFP suggests rubbing it on three to four times each day.
More Thorough Hand Care
Excessively dry skin can cause eczema, also known as dermatitis, in which the skin on the hands becomes itchy, red and inflamed. If your hands are painfully red or cracked, your doctor may recommend a stronger prescription cream such as a corticosteroid or an immunomodulator. When used properly for the recommended duration, these topical medications are extremely effective in resolving dermatitis, says the AAD.
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