|Most of us suffer from dry cracked hands in winters|
Winter can be harsh specially on the skin and most of us suffer from dry cracked hands and feet in the cold winter season.
Our hands do so much through out the day, naturally they are the worst affected most of the time. The hands are regularly exposed to micro injury from peeling fruits and vegetables, contact with fruits and vegetable juices , detergents , soap etc. further affects the natural protective barriers of the skin. In fact the hands and the skin of the neck can be the first places to show signs of ageing and get wrinkled. Fortunately getting smooth and soft hands is quite possible if you just take care of a few things.
Let us first of all know what causes the hands or feet to become dry, chapped or cracked in winters.
Causes of dry, cracked hands
1.Dry cold weather is a common culprit for Dry cracked hands
There is a lack of moisture in the air and dry cold winds can further increase dryness of skin and hair. The dry wind robs the skin of its natural moisture and makes our hands to become dry and rough.
2.Water intake and Dry Cracked Skin
We sweat less in winters and feel less thirsty (and more lazy too!) in the cold weather, as a result when the water and fluid intake drops, our hydration levels too drop causing dry skin .
3.More Caffeine intake causes more dry skin
Those endless cups of Tea, Coffee and Kahwa in winters can dehydrate the body further because these have a diuretic effect , that means they cause the body to produce more urine and in turn that can cause dehydration and dry skin all over.
4.Protecting the hands from Sun damage
Dry cracked hands can be caused by sun damage too. Long hours of sitting in the sun for long hours while beneficial for upping our Vitamin D levels , can also damage the skin due to the harm and deep penetration of the UV rays , the UV rays cause dry wrinkled skin every where including the hands and feet.
5.Dry cracked hands can be a sign of Skin disease
Dry cracked hands can be a sign of underlying disease .Sometimes the dry cold weather in winters can cause flare up in certain skin conditions like Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis Chilblains etc. that can cause the skin to become dry , rough , scaly or irritated , red and itchy.
How to take care of dry cracked hands
1. Washing Care for dry skin
During the pandemic we have been washing our hands more frequently than we were washing earlier. Washing your hands frequently with soap can strip the skin of the natural moisture and cause dry cracked hands. So what to do?
Use a pH balanced hand wash and moisturize every time you wash your hands to keep them soft and supple in winters.
2. Gloves to protect your hands from dryness and cracks
If you have to wash clothes or peel and cut fruits and vegetables, using gloves can protect your hands from the acidic juices and harsh chemicals that can make the hands chapped, dry and rough.
3.Moisturise your dry cracked hands and feet regularly
Depending upon the level of dryness and the cause of dry skin, your skin may need some or all of the following three types of moisturizers depending on the level of damage and dryness :
Humectants are chemicals that absorb moisture from the atmosphere and make the skin moist e.g. the humble glycerin and the much celebrated Hyaluronic acid!
These types of moisturizers are most suitable for oily skin and mild dehydration. Remember the old formula of Glycerin, rose water and lemon juice for keeping hands soft ?
The reason it works is because glycerin is a non greasy humectant!
Humectants unfortunately do not lock the moisture in so their effect is for a short duration only.
Emollients are cream based and have a thicker texture than humectants , they are most suitable for very dry rough skin or cracked skin. They have a smaller molecular structure and form a thin layer on top of the skin that moisturizes and protects, eg jojoba oil, squalane, castor oil etc. Best time to use them is at night before bedtime, massage them in and then slip on cotton mittens or socks over them to keep the moisture sealed in. Wake up to soft and tender hands!
As the name suggests , Occlusive moisturizers form a strong barrier between the skin and the the atmosphere to seal the moisture in. Sometimes this can lead to bacteria being trapped in this layer and that is why some people get breakouts when such [products are used. Common examples of occlusive moisturizers are petroleum jelly, Paraffin wax, desi ghee etc.
These are most suitable to very dry , cracked skin with deep cracks ,that may even bleed. They should generally go out last , which means on top of humectants or emollients.
4. Sunscreen to prevent dry cracked hands
Sun exposure for long intervals can lead to damage to the skin barrier and cause cell damage leading to dry , cracked, wrinkled dark skin. That is why if you wish to keep your hands baby soft , then don’t forget to use sunscreen 20 minutes before stepping out in the sun. A minimum of SPF 30 with broad spectrum protection is a must.
5. Foods that can help dry skin
Certain foods can help to improve the appearance of dry cracked hands. A diet rich in antioxidants like green tea, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds can help in reducing the damage to the skin and improve the healing and cell turnover. Milk products , animal products likes egg yolk, liver and yellow vegetables like pumpkin and carrots contain natural precursors of Retinol, a powerful Anti-ageing compound.
6.Homeopathic remedy for dry cracked hands and cracked heels in winters
The Calendula Ointment is a great homeopathic remedy that can quickly heal dry , chapped hands and feet and give soft skin overnight !
Homeopathy can treat diseases like eczema, psoriasis etc. but it is advisable to consult an experienced and licensed Homeopathic doctor.
7. Medical intervention
The above are interventions meant only for managing dry and cracked hands and feet at home. Dry skin all over or severe cases of deeply cracked and fissured hands and feet would need a medical diagnosis and management.
Sometime serious diseases like Lupus, Psoriasis etc. can show up as chapped hands and feet and may be ignored. Seek a medical opinion if your skin is red , itchy, blotchy or you get painful rash on the affected areas. Any involvement of the nails calls for medical evaluation.
I will love to hear some of your own skincare tips for dry cracked hands in winters , so do share your tips in the comments below.
(All images credit – Canva)
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