How to care for dry hands
Keep dry, chapped hands at bay with the right products and aftercare.
To prevent the spread of germs and viruses, you need to wash your hands regularly with soap and water. The reason for this is that soap removes the lipid bilayer - or fat membrane - of viruses that protects them. By destroying this part of a virus, you make it inactive and help prevent it from spreading. Here's the catch: soap also strips away the protective lipids in your skin, which can lead to dry, cracked hands. Here's how you can remedy the situation.
Telltale signs of dry hands from washing too often:
- Itchy, flaky or cracked skin.
- Visible redness, rash or scaling
- Skin that feels tight or rough to the touch
- Increased sensitivity after washing your hands
What makes the skin on your hands feel dry?
Excessive washing can make your hands feel dry. This is because your skin naturally has a protective lipid barrier that lets moisture in and irritants out. Soaps, hand washes, hot water and harsh, stripping ingredients like alcohol can damage this barrier. This can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin, leaving it feeling dry.
How to protect your hands from dryness
There are three things you can do to protect your skin from excessive dryness:
1. use a pH-balanced, nourishing cleanser
Nourishing or "nourishing" cleansers that have a balanced pH cleanse the skin and maintain its barrier. Some even have soothing properties. Why pH-balanced? Conventional soap is usually alkaline, which can disrupt the skin barrier and lead to dryness. A pH-balanced cleanser is closer to the skin's acidic pH.
2. wash hands with cool water
Hot water may feel good, but it dries out and irritates the skin. That's because the skin's protective lipid layer is like butter: it stays intact under cool water, but it can melt under hot water. Once it melts, the moisture in your skin quickly escapes until the lipid layer regenerates. As you age, it takes longer to replenish the lost lipids. So if you're prone to dry hands, avoid washing them with hot water. Instead, wash them with lukewarm or cold water. 3.
Apply lotion after washing your hands or using hand sanitizer.
Your skin loses moisture within 60 seconds of washing your hands. That's why it's important to apply lotion or moisturizer to your hands right away. This will help prevent dryness and strengthen the lipid barrier. Look for ingredients like ceramides, phytolipids, glycerin, aloe and hyaluronic acid.
For more advice on dry skin care, consult a professional skin therapist.