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dermatologist's tips for chapped hands

Dermatologist’s Tips for Chapped Hands

Learn how to heal dry skin

Do you need to heal dry skin and chapped hands? Hand chapping is called irritant hand dermatitis. It happens because:
  • Skin lipids and keratin protein are lost from hand skin causing loss of barrier integrity.
  • The weakened skin barrier continues to lose lipids and keratin as it is re-exposed to conditions that remove these important skin-barrier components. Examples of irritants that cause irritant hand dermatitis include:
    • Harsh soaps used for hand washing, doing the dishes or washing other items without wearing gloves; and
    • Chemicals such as solvents, alcohol, bleach, house cleansers, etc.
  • The weakened barrier is prone to water loss from exposure to harsh climactic conditions such as wind, cold, dehumidified heated interior air.

Irritant hand dermatitis typically burns and hurts.

The more weakened your skin barrier is, the faster the pain and burning happen. Even relatively weak exposure to irritating conditions can cause hand chapping when the skin barrier is compromised. It’s why taking good care of your hand skin is so important. Weakened skin with irritant hand dermatitis is also prone to allergic hand dermatitis reactions. This is because allergens penetrate into the damaged skin more efficiently than healthy skin. The most common allergens include fragrances and preservatives in hand care products. They also include the myriad of other things you get your hands into such as:
  • Plants (Philodendrons, English ivy, primrose, Alstroemeria flowers, tulips, chrysanthemums, and many other flowers and plants. Many trees also contain potent allergens that cause allergic hand dermatitis.
  • Fruits and veggies that you touch when you cook and prep meals.
  • All sorts of chemicals including hair styling products, hair dye and permanent wave solutions, paints, glues and the list goes on.
  • Rubber gloves. Yes, even the gloves you wear to protect your hands from exposure to irritants can cause an allergic reaction!
You want to avoid becoming allergic to things you like to touch, which is why you want to take good care of your hand skin so that it can resist the penetration of allergens. Allergic hand dermatitis usually itches.

How do you heal irritant hand dermatitis (aka chapped hands)?

  • Use only mild soaps to wash your hands, and rinse all soap residue off completely.Foaming hand soaps are particularly easy to rinse off and are my top choice. I recommend keeping a Hypoallergenic Foaming Hand Soap at every sink where you most commonly wash your hands.
Tips for the best way to wash your hands to prevent chapping:
  • Use warm, not hot water.
  • Apply soap to the palm side only unless the back of your hands are truly soiled.
  • Lather the palms well, avoiding working the soap onto the back of your hands where skin is thinner.
  • Rinse well, being particularly careful to get all soap residue off from the web spaces between your fingers and under your rings. Irritant dermatitis usually starts in these areas!
  • Apply a really good hypoallergenic moisturizer IMMEDIATELY after toweling hands dry. Do it often to keep hands healthy. To heal severe chapping, do it after every hand washing.
Tips for getting the best results from your hand moisturizer:
  • To keep from having a slippery grip, use a non-greasy hand moisturizer. Remove excess moisturizer with a towel or paper towel or rub the lotion on your forearm skin, it’s usually prone to dryness too!
  • Some moisturizers contain ingredients that act as a protective barrier, sort of like gloves in a bottle. These ingredients are in the silicone family and include such names as dimethicone.
  • Be sure to use hypoallergenic moisturizing creams and lotions. Don’t pick a product with heavy fragrance, the most common allergen to worry about.

Don’t forget gloves to protect your hand skin!

Gloves are a great way to protect your hands. Wear them outside when the weather is cold, windy and chapping. When you plan to expose your hands to harsh house cleaners, soaps or solvents, wear rubber gloves. When you make a point to take good care of your hands, they will take care of you. With this in mind, I have 3 hand care kits to help you have healthy hand skin:

best natural hand cream and soap for chapped hands Naturally Busy Hand Kit Right now, this product combo is one of our Holiday Gift Bundles. The kit includes my Foaming Natural Hand Cleanser and my Natural Lotion. We throw in gift wrap too so you can gift all the hard working hands on your gift list! I keep this by my bathroom skin.

dermatologist recommendations to heal chapped handsSurvival Kit for Busy Hands This kit includes my Foaming Natural Hand Cleanser and my beloved, Dry Skin Hand Cream. This Hand Cream is formulated by a brilliant skin care chemist and contains dimethicone and glycerin. I keep these products by my kitchen sink. And, I keep the soap by each exam room sink in my medical office and the cream in my lab coat pocket. 

dry skin hand repair for chapped handsDry Hand Skin Repair Kit This is the kit to end all kits when it comes to healing severely chapped hands. It includes the Foaming Hand Soap and Dry Skin Hand Cream plus Bag Balm and the best cotton gloves ever.  When you generously apply Bag Balm to your hands at bedtime and cover them with cotton gloves, you’ll wake up with hands that are much-improved. Do this little extra therapy step until your chapping has healed and then as needed to maintain healthy hand skin.

Take good care of your hands with dermatologist-recommended skin care and you'll avoid chapping, burning and uncomfortable hand skin!