Dry, cracked hands can be painful, hard to heal, and downright embarrassing. And there are so many different causes of dry skin, it’s hard to know what’s causing the problem. Regardless, the result is always the same: painful cracking and fissures that can interfere with your everyday life. While the deep cracks that occur on severely dry hands can increase your risk of illnesses, it is important to heal the dryness as soon as possible. But that is sometimes easier said than done.
How to Prevent Overdrying of the Skin
Dry skin happens for many reasons, but the extremely dry skin that causes cracking is usually a combination of issues.
Here are three of the most common culprits of severely dry hands:
1. Harsh Soaps and Detergents
Washing your hands is the only way to remove potential pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi from your hands. Obviously, you should wash your hands – but if you do it too often, you risk over-drying them and worsening your dry skin. So, what’s the solution? High-quality hand soaps and detergents can help. So many of the soaps you can find on store shelves contain harsh (and even toxic) ingredients, including sulfates – synthetic emulsifiers known to dry out hands, as they harm the natural moisture barrier of your skin.1
Always opt for a sulfate-free hand soap when you can, and try a liquid castile soap instead of dish soap to prevent further drying while you’re in the kitchen.
2. Skin Allergies
Many people suffer with contact allergies that can trigger skin dryness, inflammation, and redness. Allergens for healthy skin include common ingredients found in household cleaning products like nickel and other heavy metals. So, to avoid damaging your skin, always wear protective gloves made of rubber or latex.
3. Lack of Environmental Moisture
When the seasons change, you may notice a lack of moisture in your skin. That is usually due to a loss of environmental moisture or humidity. These dry conditions can happen both indoors and outdoors, but it is easier to adjust the humidity levels of your environment when you are inside. To reduce the dry patches on your hands that can cause cracking, purchase a humidifier that you can take with your to your office, or to use at home while you sleep. It’s a great way to prevent dryness that can take the moisture out of otherwise healthy, hydrated hands.
How Can I Heal My Ultra-Dry Hands?
When your hands become so dehydrated that they start to crack, you may want to consider the at-home healing power of these five DIY remedies for dry hands:
1. Make Your Own Moisturizer
If you are worried about your dry hands, you may also want to make your own moisturizer at home. Research suggests many moisturizers on the market today contain some form of skin allergen, including fragrance, synthetic chemicals, and known toxins.2
Here is a basic recipe you can use. Get creative, and adjust any ingredient measurement to meet your tastes and specific skin care needs:
DIY Skin Moisturizer Recipe:
- ¼ cup of raw shea butter
- ⅛ sweet almond oil
- 1 teaspoon beeswax pellets
- 5-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice (lavender, myrrh, sandalwood)
Mix the shea butter, beeswax, and sweet almond oil together in a double boiler to steam the ingredients. Then, gently stir the mixture as it melts. Once everything is fully blended, remove the pot from the heat, and allow it to cool slightly (up to 10 minutes). Then, you can add the essential oils without damaging the active phytochemicals they contain. You may decide to store the moisturizer in airtight glass jars for later application.
NOTE: Do not leave the mixture in a warm environment, as it will get runny if it is too hot.
2. Aloe Vera Meat and Gel
This desert cactus is often used in skincare products, as it is a well-known hydrator. Able to repair all types of skin damage, aloe vera meat, and gel are both wonderfully soothing to severely cracked skin.
If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. Aloe vera plants grow rapidly and easily in direct sunlight with very little water. Just clip off one arm of the plant, and slice it open to use the meat and fresh gel on your dry hands. Alternatively, you can purchase the gel at your favorite local pharmacy.
NOTE: Green bottled aloe vera gel is synthetically colored, which can worsen skin dryness. Aim to only purchase clear varieties.
This skin-softening substance has been used as a emollient for centuries to reduce skin dryness and prevent rough, scaly skin that can even lead to cracking.3 As an emollient, lanolin helps to form a protective layer on the top of the skin, to trap moisture inside skin cells. This helps to prevent moisture loss caused by environmental factors and other causes. Other well-known skin emollients include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and coconut oil.
Honeybees manufacture many different skin-nourishing products for us. They certainly deserve to be thanked for their efforts. The wax provided by these bees is easily applied to the skin to form a thick, protective layer that eliminates moisture loss without suffocating the skin like it’s synthetic counterparts. That’s why you’ll find beeswax in many different lip balms. Studies confirm that beeswax is an effective barrier moisturizer, able to reduce dryness of even the most dehydrated skin.4
5. Raw Honey
There is nothing sweeter to put on your skin than raw honey. Loaded with nutrients, honey nourishes your skin while also protecting it from common allergens. Not only, that but honey also acts as a humectant, locking essential water inside of the epidermis – the outermost layer of your skin. Other substances that act as humectants include sugar, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid (HA).5 Smooth some fresh, raw honey on the most dry areas of your hands and let it do its work for a bit. You’ll be glad you did.
If you have dry skin that causes your hands to crack and peel in the most painful places – like your finger joints – moisturizing may not be enough. Restore the health and hydration with these five DIY remedies for dry hands. With a regular skin care regimen, even the worst cases of dry skin can be restored. And don’t forget to try the breakthrough formula of FootMedix, for use on dry hands and feet.
Want tips on ways to have great feet? Read on here:
1. “SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE || Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database | EWG”. Ewg.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
2. Matthew J. Zirwas, M, Sarah A. Stechschulte. Moisturizer Allergy Diagnosis and Management. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2008 Nov; 1(4): 38–44.
3. “Lanolin-Cream : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – Webmd”. WebMD. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
4. Frosch PJ, Peiler D. Efficacy of barrier creams in comparison to skin care products in dental laboratory technicians–a controlled trial. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2003 Jul;1(7):547-57.
5. Frosch PJ, et al. “[Efficacy Of Barrier Creams In Comparison To Skin Care Products In Dental Laboratory Technicians–A Controlled Trial]. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.