Dry winter weather can lead to flaky skin and cracked hands and make for an uncomfortable season. Dermatologists in Greeley often see patients who experience hand skincare issues in the winter, especially in the harsh, dry Colorado climate. But just because the weather is dry doesn’t mean your hands need to be. To keep your hands healthy and comfortable this season, check out these five tips for winter hand care.
Use a Strong Moisturizer
The most common reason for red, cracked hands in the winter is a lack of moisture. The air and weather are naturally dryer, which sucks the moisture out of the skin. Staying hydrated by drinking water can help, but the most important thing to do is use a strong hand cream and moisturizer. The cream adds moisture straight to the skin and creates a strong barrier against the elements to keep the moisture inside. However, the moisturizing barrier doesn’t last forever. To keep your hands moisturized and protected throughout the day, apply hand cream every few hours.
For best results, start using a hand moisturizer before you start to notice dryness or redness. In Colorado, that could mean switching to a thick hand cream as the weather starts to change and the temperature cools. Look for a thicker moisturizer and cream, instead of a water-based lotion. Thicker products tend to go deeper into the skin and last longer, especially for damaged and dry skin.
Leaving your hands exposed to the elements can make them even more dry and damaged. If you’re going to be outside for more than a few minutes, put on a pair of gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm and protected. Rubber gloves can also help if you’re going to have your hands in water for a long time, which can dry them out. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when washing dishes or doing other chores.
Limit Hand Washing
Washing your hands is a great way to stop germs, but it can also dry your skin out even more. If possible, try to limit how many times you wash your hands throughout the day. When you do wash your hands, use mild hand soap and warm water instead of hot. Hot water strips the skin of natural oils and can make it even more dehydrated. Pat your hands dry with a towel and apply lotion right away. If you wash your hands more than 10 times a day or start to notice your skin getting worse after washing your hands, try using hand sanitizer to get your hands clean without drying them out as much as soap and water.
Use a Humidifier
One of the best ways to combat dry winter air is to simply add more moisture to the air. Running a humidifier while you sleep puts water in the air, which can then seep into your skin. A humidifier will help the skin over your entire body, not just your hands. For best results, be sure to follow the machine’s instructions and wash it regularly to avoid growing mold and other bacteria in dirty water.
Protect Your Hands While You Sleep
Your hands work hard and are exposed to many things all day, so give them a time to refresh and rest while you sleep. Apply a thick hand cream, serum, or even olive oil and cover your hands with gloves right before bed. The extra layer will help the product seep into your skin while you sleep, allowing you to wake up to moisturized skin ready for a new day.
These five tips for healthy winter hands can keep your skin moisturized all season long. Your Greeley dermatologists can also assist with personalized skincare treatments, including prescribing ointments or serums for extreme cases or dryness that just won’t go away. Winter can be rough on the skin, but with the right products and habits, your hands don’t have to be dry and painful.