How to Prevent Chapped Hands in Cold Weather

As the weather gets colder, the air gets dryer and does a number on your hands. In just a few days, you can go from having smooth hands to having the roughest, coarsest, most crack hands in the world, especially if you’re busy washing your hands to ward of sickness. Fall and winter weather is bad for skin because there is a dramatic drop in moisture in the air outside, and indoor heating saps moisture out of the air indoors. And when you’re washing your hands all the time, you’re depriving them of important natural oils, further drying their hands and making them more prone to peeling and cracking.

The Importance of Moisturizer

The most important thing to do when your hands become dry and chapped is moisturize them. Since they’ve dried out because of a lack of moisture, it makes sense to replace that moisture to prevent things from getting worse. Moisturizing your hands is actually important to do even before they become sore and cracked, because it’s an excellent preventative measure to take. Using moisturizing creams that are especially formulated for cold weather or dry skin is a good idea. You’ll have to apply the cream several times a day in order to see results, because one application is not enough to save your hands.

To pick a good hand cream, you need to look for moisturizers and creams that have emollients like jojoba and lanolin—because these chemicals act like lubrication to moisten your skin. Humectants like glycerin and urea are also important features of a good cream, because they draw moisture from the air to the skin’s surface, increasing skin moisture in doing so.

What If Drugstore Creams Aren’t Enough?

If your hands are cracked and painful, and bleed as result, you need something more heavy-duty than most drugstore hand creams. You need a thicker moisturizer with ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, or petroleum jelly. In addition to regularly applying the previously mentioned moisturizers, use the heavy-duty moisturizers at night, making sure to apply a thick layer to your hands before slipping them into a pair of socks and sleeping in them. It may sound a bit silly, but you’ll hopefully only need to do this for a few days until your hands improve, and then you can go back to using the basic moisturizers.

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