The winter months have most of us bundled up to ward off the cold, all while washing and sanitizing our hands so we don't catch one either. This can leave our hands vulnerable to wear and tear, and we can often find ourselves with skin that is dry, flaky, irritated, or has even started to crack.
What Causes Dry Skin on Your Hands?
There are a few big factors that contribute to dry or chapped hands in the winter. These have to do with the environment as well as the products you’re using on your hands, including:
- Exposure to cold air
- Repetitive hand washing
- Overusing hand sanitizer
Each one of these factors contributes to dryness because they all draw moisture out of the skin. The cold air is particularly dehydrating because it lacks the humidity that thirsty skin needs. Overusing products like sanitizer or hand wash can also cause irritation.
Keeping your hands clean and sterile is more important than ever. Yet the more you wash and sanitize, the more you need to make sure your hands are hydrated and your skin barrier is protected.
Skin Barrier Protection
The best way to keep your hands hydrated and ward off dermatological conditions such as eczema and psoriasis is to protect your skin barrier and make sure it remains intact. While the winter chill and constant washing and sanitizing can wear down your barrier, there are ways to build it back up and hold on to your skin’s hydration. A fantastic method of skin barrier protection is the “Soak and Smear” technique.
In the winter, making sure you aren’t losing moisture from your hands is just as important as adding hydration back into the skin.
This four-step treatment can be done every night or as frequently as needed. The “Soak and Smear” technique is also particularly helpful for hands so irritated that they’ve begun to crack. All you need is some warm water, a little ointment, and a pair of gloves.
The “Soak and Smear” Method
- Soak your hands in warm water for a few minutes.
- Pat them dry.
- Apply a cream that has occlusive ingredients to protect your skin barrier.
- Put on a pair of cotton gloves, which helps your skin heal faster by occluding the ointment, and leave them overnight.
Why is Occlusive Cream Important?
Your dry, irritated hands need moisture and soothing. The best creams to re-moisturize your overused, overwashed hands are those that include occlusive ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, non-nano powdered zinc, and colloidal oatmeal.
For those unfamiliar with the term, occlusive ingredients work to hydrate your skin by creating a protective barrier on the surface of your skin that prevents any moisture from escaping. An additional benefit of occlusive ingredients is that they soothe and soften the skin.
Products with occlusive ingredients are your best line of defense against dry, irritated skin.
You can find powerful, vegan occlusive ingredients in products like The Putty (colloidal oatmeal) and Berry Rich (cocoa butter) that will not only add moisture back into the skin but keep it from being leached out by cold air or harsh soaps.
By using the “Soak and Smear” technique with a high-quality, occlusive cream, you’re protecting your hands from the harsh effects of cold air, overwashing, and oversanitizing, three things that are unavoidable during flu season.
Your hands are important, so take care of them!