What causes dry, cracked skin?
Dry skin, or xerosis, is the most common cause of cracked skin.
In smooth hydrated skin, natural oils prevent the skin from drying out by retaining moisturise. If your skin doesn't have enough oil, it loses moisture. This can make the dry and shrink causing cracking.
Cold winter weather with it's low humidity can dry your skin. Indoor heating also adds to the drying effect on your skin.
Chemical irritants like dish soap and laundry detergents can further damage the skin's barrier and cause dryness.
Hot water - If you like your showers and bath water very hot, this can also reduce your skin moisture.
Medications and some medical conditions can cause skin dryness.
Frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitisers.
So, what can you do to avoid skin problems on your hands?
First line of defence is to use a really good intense moisturiser to replace the lost moisturise. Look for a heavy handcreme that contains good plant oils and waxes along with humecants like honey.
Protect the skin on your hands all year round. A good SPF handcreme is important particularly in the summer months. Damage can be done even when you are driving, as the suns rays intensify through the windscreen.
During the day use an intensive hand cream several times a day. Avoid artifical fragrances and look for a natural solution.
At night, take the opportunity to really treat your hands. This is an ideal time to get the maximum benefit from a heavy duty cream. Do pop on some cotton gloves, this not only saves the cream coming off your hands and onto the bed linen, it also allows the maximum absorption of the cream into your skin. Guys - you will really notice a difference if you do this.
For hands prone to drying, wear gloves when washing dishes and general cleaning. Prolonged exposure to water can dry the hands because it washes away the natural oils from the skin.
Avoid the hot air dryers and use paper towels where possible.
Wash hands with warm water, not really hot water. Use a good moisturising soap with ingredients like shea butter, glycerine and honey. Apply moisturiser after washing your hands.
Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water will help hydrate your skin - herb teas also count.
Wear gloves when you are out in cold weather.
Exfoliate - this can help remove dead, dry and damaged skin, and allows the cream to be asborbed into your skin more effectively.
So bottom line:
Gloves to prevent skin drying out - good quality handcremes applied frequently - stay hydrated - SPF handcreme when in the sun (this will also prevent getting sun spots on your hands) - speak to your Doctor if your hands get infected and get this treated first. You can then start on your protect and prevent routine.