You might not even notice it, but you use your hands to accomplish many different tasks daily. Because they work so hard, the skin can get irritated and eventually become dry. Cracked and dry hands are not only an esthetic concern, they can also become a painful hindrance in your day-to-day.
Poor hand health symptoms can range from itchiness, redness, cracks, general discomfort to even pain and bleeding.
What causes dry or cracked hands?
Chapping or cracking occurs when the skin on the hands becomes extremely dry. When it is dehydrated, epidermis is less flexible and more fragile, making it more vulnerable to cracking. Many factors can contribute to severe dryness or poor hand health, including:
- Temperature variations, especially cold weather
- Frequent and rigorous hand washing, especially in hot water
- Work that requires your hands to be in water often
- Skin irritants such as harsh soap, shampoos, detergents, chemical cleaners
- Pre-existing skin conditions, such a psoriasis or eczema
Chapped skin primarily affects adults. It can be an occasional or recurring problem. People who have eczema or another form of dermatitis are more likely to experience this problem.
How to prevent dry or cracked hands
Dry and chapped hands can be prevented by making small adjustments to your lifestyle habits or by applying the following measures:
- Use a mild, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free soap to wash your hands. Read the label to make sure there are no irritating agents within the formula.
- Wash your hands under warm water, not hot. When it comes to drying them, pat them gently on a clean towel rather than rubbing them.
- Use gloves to protect your hands against cold weather. If you need to perform tasks that require your hands to be under water or to be in contact with disinfectants, wear protective gloves as well.
- Use hand creams, as they protect you from irritation while deeply moisturizing your skin, as well as providing relief from pain or itching. Your pharmacist can help you choose the right product for you.
How to treat dry or cracked hands
Chapped hands require care, because not only are they painful but they can also serve as a gateway for certain infections.
If you have chapped skin and want to heal it fast, follow these few tips:
- Switch from your regular hand cream to a moisturizer formulated with urea, an emollient and softening agent that promotes healing. Consider cortisone-based, anti-itch or antibiotic creams or ointments as well, as they can help. Your pharmacist can provide advice so you can find the right product for your needs.
- Cover the chapped areas with a regular or liquid bandage to prevent bacteria from entering the skin.
You pharmacist can help!
If you need personalized advice, drop by your pharmacy to consult our professional staff. For more severe skin problems, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.