As the days continue to get shorter and colder, you may have begun to notice a change with your skin. That’s because when the temperatures outside drop, so does the humidity. This, in turn, causes our skin to dry out too because of the lack of moisture available in the air. Conversely, when we turn up the heat indoors to keep warm, the air indoors becomes drier, too.
Caught between a dry and a drier place, it’s important to take preventive steps to keep our hands — along with the rest of our skin — looking and feeling their best. Below are the top three ways you can prevent and treat chapped hands this winter.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
It should come as no surprise that the best way to add moisture back to your skin during the drier months is to use moisturizer. A good moisturizer will help keep water from evaporating from your skin and will give your skin a healthy glow. The key is to use moisturizer several times throughout the day or whenever your skin begins to feel dry.
When looking for the right moisturizer, you should look for two categories of ingredients: emollients and humectants. Emollients keep your skin soft, smooth and pliable. The most common emollients to look out for include lanolia, jojoba oil, isoprophyl palmitate, propylene gycol linoleate, squalene and glycerol stearate. Humectants work to draw moisture from the air to the skin’s surface. Ingredients to look out for include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, propylene glycerol, urea and lactic acid.
For those with more tender or damaged hands, consider using petroleum jelly or a thick, rich moisturizer with ingredients such as dimethicone, cocoa or shea butter or beeswax. Slather it on at bedtime, slip on a pair of cotton gloves and let it soak in overnight.
Wash the right way
As tempting as it may be to spend hours in the shower or washing your hands with harsh soap and extra hot water, it can actually do more damage than good. Hot water will further dehydrate your skin and washing your hands constantly can actually remove critical natural oils that provide extra protection for your skin. Additionally, you should also avoid using hand sanitizers as these products typically contain a high dose of alcohol, which will dry out your skin even more.
Instead, try to keep your showers short, sweet and mild. Switch out the scalding hot showers for ones that are lukewarm. And when it comes to washing your body or your hands, opt for soap that is mild and made for sensitive skin. Then, after you’re all clean, pat dry and apply moisturizer right after to lock in moisture.
Talk to your doctor
And last, but certainly not least, one of the best things you can do to treat chapped hands is to talk to your doctor. If you have any pre-existing conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, you may need specialized medication to help treat dryness without further irritating your skin.
You should absolutely seek medical attention if you experience bleeding, discoloration, swelling, drainage from opened wounds or extreme redness. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition.
We encourage all of you to take steps toward protecting your skin during the colder months to help you look and feel healthy all year long. Need help putting together a winter skincare routine that’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists today!