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Protecting Your Hands: How to Prevent and Treat Dry Skin

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Our hands are essential to our daily lives, yet they are often exposed to harsh environmental stressors that can lead to dry, cracked, and painful skin. Various factors, including harsh soaps, cold weather, low humidity, and frequent exposure to water, can cause dry skin and tough hands. If left untreated, dry skin can progress to more severe conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Whether you’re a healthcare worker, a parent, or someone who wants to keep their hands looking and feeling healthy, this article is for you. We’ll cover relevant and actionable information, from the importance of moisturizing to avoiding common triggers for dry skin.

Preventing Dry Skin on Hands

Moisturize Frequently

Keeping your hands moisturized is the most effective way to prevent dry skin. Use a hand cream or lotion after every wash, and make sure to choose products that are specifically designed for dry skin. Look for creams that contain ingredients like glycerin, petrolatum, or shea butter, as these can help lock in moisture.

Use Gentle Soaps

Harsh soaps can strip your skin of its natural oils and cause dryness. Use gentle soaps that are free of fragrances and other irritants. Look for soaps labeled “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin.”

Wear Gloves

If your hands are frequently exposed to water or harsh chemicals, consider wearing gloves to protect them. Rubber or latex gloves are best for protecting against water, while neoprene or nitrile gloves are better for protecting against chemicals.

Avoid Hot Air Dryers

Hot air dryers can strip your hands of their natural oils, making them more prone to dryness. Instead of using hot air dryers, pat your hands dry with a soft towel.

Treating Dry Skin on Hands

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Prevention is always better than cure, but sometimes, our hands may become dry and rough even with the best precautions. In this section, we will explore the various treatments available to help you get relief from dry skin on your hands.

Overnight Hand Treatment

For an even more intense moisturizing treatment, consider applying a thick layer of moisturizer to your hands before bed and wearing cotton gloves overnight. This allows the moisturizer to penetrate the skin deeply and helps restore moisture levels while you sleep.

Using a petroleum jelly-based product is another overnight treatment for extremely dry hands. Just be sure to cover your hands with gloves or socks to prevent the product from rubbing off on your sheets or clothing.

Use Lukewarm Water for Washing

Hot water strips the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and dehydrated. So, when washing your hands, use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Also, limit your time washing your hands to prevent excessive drying.

Try a Natural Remedy

Many natural remedies can help to soothe and moisturize dry skin on the hands. Aloe vera gel, for example, is an excellent natural moisturizer with anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut oil is another natural remedy that can help to hydrate and nourish dry skin.

Seek Medical Attention

If the dry skin on your hands is severe and home remedies don’t seem to work, seeking medical attention is essential. Your doctor may prescribe a stronger, prescription-strength cream or suggest other treatments, such as phototherapy, to help soothe and heal your skin.

Managing Specific Conditions

While a number of factors can cause dry skin on the hands, specific skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can worsen the issue. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, it’s important to manage them to prevent flare-ups and reduce the occurrence of dry skin.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic condition characterized by itchy, red, and inflamed skin. If you have eczema, keep your skin moisturized and avoid potential triggers that can worsen your symptoms, such as certain soaps and detergents, extreme temperatures, and stress.

Psoriasis is another skin condition that can cause dry, scaly patches on the skin, including the hands. There are different types of psoriasis, and some can be more severe than others.

Treatment options may include topical creams, oral medications, and light therapy.

In addition to eczema and psoriasis, other conditions can contribute to dry skin on the hands, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism. If you suspect an underlying medical condition contributes to your dry skin, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Lifestyle Changes for Healthy Hands

In addition to the above preventative measures and treatments, incorporating lifestyle changes can help promote overall hand health and prevent dryness.

Use Sunscreen

We all know the importance of sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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Unfortunately, we tend to neglect our hands which have equal exposure to the sun. The skin on the back of our hands is thin and delicate, making it more prone to sunburn and skin damage.

To protect your hands from the sun, use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily, even in winter.


Drinking enough water is essential for keeping your skin hydrated from the inside out. If your body is dehydrated, your skin can become dry and flaky. Experts recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your body and skin hydrated.

Adjust Your Diet

What you eat can also affect the health of your skin, including the skin on your hands.

Incorporating healthy fats into your diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds, can help keep your skin healthy and moisturized. These healthy fats help to nourish your skin and keep it supple, preventing dryness and cracking.


Dry skin on the hands can be prevented and treated with various methods. Taking care of your hands is not just about keeping them looking good; it’s also about maintaining their health and functionality. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can protect your hands from dryness and damage and ensure they stay healthy and strong for years. If you have any concerns about your skin or hand health, consult your healthcare provider or a dermatologist.