How to Care for Dry, Cracked Hands

Constant hand washing and hand sanitizer use can do a number on your hands. Here are 10 essential tips and products to help you take care of your hands.

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dry skin with moisturizer Tarja Jalkanen/Getty Images

5 Tips for Taking Care of Hardworking Hands

Slather on a high-quality hand cream. A top-rated moisturizer formulated for dry hands is essential if you’re battling dry and cracked skin. (Check out our five hand-care product recommendations below.) It’s best to apply lotion regularly throughout the day. At night, slip on a pair of cotton moisturizing gloves after applying lotion to lock in moisture while you sleep.

Wear rubber gloves. Exposure to water washes away the skin’s natural protective oils. Dish detergents and other cleaning agents are similarly harsh on hands. Fortunately, it’s easy to take care of your hands by wearing rubber gloves whenever you have contact with water or chemicals.

Add moisture to the air. In addition to helping you breathe easier, a humidifier can improve your skin during dry winter months. That’s because your skin is more than half water, and cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. Add moisture to the air with either a furnace humidifier or a high-quality standalone humidifier(Here’s some help when choosing one.)

Switch soaps. Avoid soaps that contain synthetic fragrances, preservatives and sulfates, which tend to be drying. Also pass on foaming and antibacterial soaps. Instead, choose a soap formulated for dry skin like Olay Sensitive Bar Soap and make sure to rinse thoroughly after each wash.

Gently exfoliate. Dry skin can benefit from gentle exfoliation after bathing. Simply rub a pumice stone over your hands while they’re still damp to remove any rough skin. You can also create an easy and effective homemade solution with two tablespoons of sugar and a drizzle of olive oil.

Check out some of our favorite home winterization products in this video:

5 Top Hand Care Products

A rancher suffering from dry hands teamed up with his pharmacist daughter to create O’Keefe’s Working Hands hand cream. The thick, non-greasy unscented formula can help heal the driest skin. And the popular tub design fits into a pocket for easy on-the-go applications.

Since 1988, Vermont’s original Bag Balm skin moisturizer has been the go-to choice for farmers, skiers and anyone else who regularly braves the outdoors in winter. You only need a dab of this hyper-moisturizing formula to heal dry, cracked and calloused skin. (It also works wonders on cuts and scrapes.)

Check out our advice on what is the best temperature for your house in winter.

CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream for dry cracked hands contains three essential ceramides as well as niacinamide to protect and heal dry hands. Ceramides are lipids that help keep skin soft and hydrated, while niacinamide is a nutrient that helps improve your skin’s barrier. This is an ideal cream if you suffer from eczema.

The makers of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream looked to wintry Scandinavia for inspiration when formulating their perennially popular hand cream. It contains a rich concentration of glycerin, which strengthens your skin barrier, protects against skin irritants and hydrates. Don’t be deceived by its small size — a two-ounce tube contains more than 200 applications.

Prefer natural ingredients? Then Burt’s Bees Hand Salve is for you. It’s made from a soothing blend of beeswax, botanical oils and other natural ingredients. Simply warm a small amount in the palm of your hand before applying to dry skin. It has a light, herbal scent, designed for broad appeal.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.