Tips for Moisturizing Dry and Cracked Hands

Having dry hands is common during the winter. You may have smooth and supple hands by September, but it can turn rough, dry, and cracked by January to February. The main culprit for this is lack of moisture. During the winter, the humidity outside plunges, and indoors, things get even drier due to indoor heating.

The coronavirus pandemic may even worsen already dry skin conditions. The constant need to wash the hands to avoid catching the virus or the flu can sap whatever natural oils are left in your skin, leaving your skin dehydrated that they are left to crack, bleed, and peel. When you’re washing your hands, you’re literally drawing moisture out of the skin.

Here’s how you can ease dry, and cracked hands:

1. Use gentle hand soaps.

The chemicals found in typical bar soaps can have a drying effect on the hands. For your hand cleansing needs, use gentle, moisturizing hand soaps to avoid dry hands.

Hand washes that contain antibacterial ingredients and those alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be drying and harsh to skin, especially to sensitive skin. The truth is you don’t really need these types of hand soaps to get rid of germs as the act of washing of your hands and the cleaning ingredients in soaps are what removes the germs and microbes in your hands.

If you have a skin condition that causes your hands to be dry and cracked, you have to avoid using soap at all and use gentle, liquid cleansers.

Here are some hand soaps that are gentle and suitable for sensitive skin:

Where to Buy
Puracy Natural Gel Hand Soap
Dove Beauty Cream Caring Hand Wash
JergensExtra Moisturizing Hand Wash
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser


2. Wash with lukewarm water.

Washing your hands with hot or cold water can be uncomfortable, and using both can dry out your skin even more. It is recommended for persons with dry hands to wash their hands in lukewarm water to avoid further dryness.

3. Use hand moisturizers.

To treat dry, scaly hands, you need to replace the moisture that your thirsty skin is missing. Using a moisturizer that’s applied directly to the skin will keep water in the skin from evaporating, giving the skin a dewy, healthy appearance. Even before there’s a problem, it’s a good practice to moisturize. The best prevention is to start moisturizing before your hands show signs of dryness. Hand creams and lotions can help restore moisture and seal it back to the skin.

Even if you use moisturizers, applying it once a day isn’t enough. Apply it more frequently so its effects will last longer. Remember to rub also over your nails and cuticles, as they can also become dry just like the skin on the hands.

There are a lot of hand creams and moisturizers in the market. To choose the best for your dry skin, look at the ingredients. Pick products that contain ingredients like lanolin, jojoba oil, propylene glycol linoleate, isopropyl palmitate, squalene, glycerol stearate, glycerin, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, urea, or sorbitol.

If you’re on the market for the best hand creams, check out our list of the top hand creams and moisturizers.

4. Apply hand cream when hands are slightly damp.

After washing your hands, apply hand cream when it’s still a little damp – the dampness will help to seal the water into the skin. While you may think that wet hands may transfer germs more easily, you don’t have to worry as most hand creams are absorbed by the skin incredibly quickly, leaving your hands dry again within ten to fifteen seconds. Let the lotion or cream dry first before you touch anything communal or dirty, it shouldn’t be a concern. The bigger priority is to keep up with your handwashing to protect yourself from the virus, and moisturize them right after.

5. Choose thicker hand creams.

To seal in hydration, make sure you’re using hand creams that have occlusive properties – meaning, it can help your skin barrier to keep water in and potential irritants out. Keep an eye out for moisturizers with ingredients like petrolatum, ceramides, and dimethicones. Hand creams with these ingredients tend to be thicker.

6. Treat your hands overnight.

During the day, thicker hand creams may feel greasy and uncomfortable, since your hands are always on our service. But the nighttime is the perfect opportunity to slather your dry skin with a lotion or a petroleum-based moisturizer. Petroleum jelly is a reliable product, but you can use a moisturizer that contains heavy ingredients like shea butter, dimethicone, cocoa butter or beeswax. After putting a thick and heavy cream, cover your hands with a pair of soft gloves or mittens before bedtime. Trapping the moisturizer will help it be absorbed quickly, get the moisturizer in touch with the skin, and avoid it from greasing your bedsheets and blankets.

7. Wear gloves.

When you need to do chores that involve immersing your hands in water like washing the dishes, doing manual laundry, cleaning your car with soap and water – make sure you wear rubber gloves. Overwashing and getting the hands submerged in water and other cleaning products can contribute to the dryness. Cleaning products doesn’t only cause dryness to the skin, but it can even cause serious irritation, eczema flares, and contact dermatitis.

8. If you have eczema, consult your dermatologist.

If you have skin that’s very dry, scaly, and reddish; and if common hand creams won’t work or cause irritation to your skin, you might have eczema or dermatitis. In these cases, a dermatologist may recommend a special treatment that can give your skin a chance to heal. He or she might prescribe creams containing steroid or hydrocortisone, or even antibiotics that you need to take orally.

9. Use a humidifier.

People with breathing issues, asthma, and other respiratory conditions use humidifiers to help ease their breathing. But do you know that humidifiers can also make a big impact on your skin by preventing it from drying out? Dry air can cause dry skin, especially during the winter months, and if you notice that your hands are always getting dry this season, consider getting yourself a humidifier. The best place to put it is in your bedroom, but it can operate in any room of the house that needs a little more moisture.

10. Decrease stress.

Stress can cause a lot of diseases, and it even affects skin, too. For those with eczema that causes the dry skin, stress can trigger the flares or outbreaks. Reducing stress can help the person avoid having dry skin on the hands and other areas of the body.