Dry skin on hands is very common but let’s face it, it can be incredibly irritating and even painful. The constant hand washing, changes in weather and exposure to chemicals can do a number on your hands. Our hands work hard for us every day, from housework to manual labour and sports. All this hard work puts the skin on our hands under pressure.
What causes dry, cracked hands?
The root cause of those dry, scaly, and even cracked hands? Well, there could be any one of these culprits or most likely, a combination of integral and external aggressors that trigger the skin on your hands to dry out.
The Internal Factors
Hands become dry, age faster and even crack when they are not cared for. Our hands have a different skin structure to other parts of our body. While the skin on our palms and balls of the fingers are rich in fatty and connective tissue, and have a high density of sweat glands, it has very few sebaceous glands. Moreover, the skin on the back of our hands is especially thin and sensitive, has very little fatty tissue, and has few sebaceous glands. The fewer number of sebaceous glands makes the skin less able to retain moisture and thus more susceptible to drying out. The ageing process of the skin also plays a factor in that, as we get older, our skin generally becomes thinner and less elastic, therefore becoming drier. An unbalanced diet and a lack of water can also impact the elasticity, health, and texture of our skin.
Severe dry hands can be a result of underlying conditions and diseases such as eczema, dermatitis, allergies, psoriasis, diabetes, thyroid etc. In these situations, you should seek medical advice before applying topical treatments and making any lifestyle changes.
The External Factors
Did you know transepidermal water loss happens more when the skin is exposed to a cold winter, or dry and extremely dry weather? Harsh weather conditions, especially during the colder months, can cause your skin barrier function to weaken. When this barrier weakens it becomes easier for water to seep out of the skin and cause discomfort. Fluctuations in temperature such as oscillating between the cold outdoors and the cozy, indoor heating also plays a role in dehydrating your skin.
- Hand Hygiene
Though frequent hand washing is important and effective for maintaining hand hygiene, consistently washing without replenishing can strip our skin of its natural lipids and protective oils. Running your hands under scalding hot or extremely cold water can irritate the skin and damage its protective outer layer, causing it to become dry and also less resistant to bacteria. In some professions, constant washes are damaging hands, we've met nurses with very dry hands as a consequence.
- Harsh Products
Many household products, such as laundry detergent, bleach and washing up liquid, can irritate and damage your skin, affecting its natural barrier. When this barrier is continuously compromised, rough, peeling, itchy and cracked skin tend to follow. The common culprits in soaps like sulphates, parabens and fragrances can aggravate and irritate the skin. With alcohol-based sanitisers, your skin barrier pays the price. While they kill the bad bacteria, they also kill the good guys too, damaging the natural lipids and fatty acids on the surface of your skin if you are not diligent with aftercare.
Get a Grip on the Problem
Tired of dealing with dry, sore and cracked hands? The best way to prevent dry skin is to look after your hands. It’s time to get a hold on your skin health and save your dry hands with these simple solutions to keep them supple.
- Arguably the most effective way to treat and prevent dry skin on hands is to incorporate moisturising into your daily routine. Applying a nutrient-dense moisturiser, such as KOBA’s Touch Me hand cream, immediately after contact with water, hand sanitisers or throughout the day when needed, will help to repair and protect the skin. Formulated with safou oil, sweet almond oil, ricin oil and niacinamide, the Touch Me hand cream will condition, soothe and smooth your skin, while protecting against free radicals and daily aggressors. When choosing your hand cream, look for ingredients that are high in fatty acids to help stimulate the skin’s natural oil barrier, vitamin E to calm, repair and protect the skin, vitamin C to aid in collagen production and triglycerides to lock in moisture.
- Protect your skin against prolonged sun exposure by applying a quality sun cream, such as Bondi Sands SPF 50+. And yes, you still need to wear a sunblock during the winter months as while the sun may be hidden behind the clouds, UV rays get through and hit your skin. Don’t neglect your hands when applying sunscreen.
- Your hands encounter a variety of potential irritants daily. Protect your hands from exposure to cleaning agents, detergents and cleansers that contain harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia by wearing gloves.
- Exfoliating once every couple of weeks will help to remove dead, dry and damaged skin. Try the L:A Bruket Hand Peel, a natural and restorative exfoliant to gently rejuvenate the hands.
- If you have extremely dry hands, you may want to try an overnight treatment to fix your dry hands. Especially during the winter months, consider massaging a more generous amount of the Touch Me hand cream and follow with light cotton gloves. Let the cream work its magic while you sleep and wake up to velvety soft hands.
The Velvet Effect
Many factors contribute to the skin on your hands drying out and appearing scaly. From environmental and lifestyle to genetics and biology, following these steps can help to alleviate some of the discomfort and impart un effet velours for younger-looking healthier hands.