How To Care For Hands

Worthy of a round of applause, your hands take on a lot – more, perhaps, than any other part of the body. So learning how to care for hands is top of agenda for taking care of yourself. That means working to prevent dry skin on hands, sustaining strong, healthy nails and giving your digits the most hydrating hand creams to thwart the drying effects of, well, life. So perfect your crafts later, put down the adult colouring books, stop your thumbs scrolling. We’ve got all the manicure and hand care tips you need to get a grip on.

Man rubbing hand cream into his hands

WHAT CAUSES DRY HANDS?

From tending to your favourite ferns to hoisting you up mountains, battling washing-up to flicking through the pages of your favourite book, dry hands can be caused by all sorts of things. Are yours feeling less soft than usual? Forget predictions and palm readings, we’ve rounded up the scientific pain points that can contribute to dry skin on hands, a signal of a weakened skin barrier. Bear in mind you might recognise a single factor as your dry hand culprit, or a combination of them might be playing havoc with your hands’ hydration levels.

1 The elements

More common in the colder months, it’s no secret that the climate can contribute to (often temporarily) dry skin. Low-humidity weather saps moisture from our skin, most felt by those parts of us that are pretty much constantly exposed. Just like that – dry hands.

2 Artificial heating

Plunging the levels of moisture in the air much lower than normal, harsh weather outside and central heating inside makes for a doubly drying combo. Conversely, in the summer, air conditioning can do much the same.

3 Hand-washing, plus antibacterial gels

Dodging cold or flu? We get it. It’s important to try to keep bugs at bay, but excessive washing can deplete our hands’ natural oils, stripping moisture from the skin. Our mitts much prefer a lukewarm water temperature and a cream-based soap to help reduce dryness and replenish moisture.

4 Overexposure to too-harsh formulas

See point 3 – if overused, soaps, detergents and shampoos formulated to remove oil can aggravate already dried-out hands.

5 Jobs

Professions that call for immersing hands in warm water – think nursing or hairstyling – might require handling chemicals day-to-day, which can be irritants to skin. Similarly, gardeners and tradespeople working outdoors might suffer this occupational hot potato.

6 Hot baths or showers

Bathing more than once a day and/or turning the water temperature to hot (rather than warm) can create dry skin on hands. Equally, while we love a good swim, frequent paddling in heavily chlorinated water doesn’t help.

7 Dehydration

A major culprit in the fight against parched skin. If you’re not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep your skin won’t be able to retain moisture like usual. Skin needs plenty of H2O – aim for at least 2 litres a day (more if you’re particularly active or also drinking reputed diuretics like alcohol and coffee).

8 Smoking

Worsening skin’s hydration levels, this habit can lead to drier hands.

9 Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

If you’ve got itchy, cracked, or red and inflamed skin, it might be down to one of these, which are often linked to genetics or allergies. Help keep skin’s moisture levels up by brushing up on the other factors in these list, and if you have eczema or psoriasis, see a doctor.

10 Stress

Everyone experiences this inevitability differently but some common side effects include our flight-or-fight response triggering sweat, which, if we don’t drink enough water, can cause skin to dry out. Nails can become brittle or peel. Plus, stress can exacerbate existing eczema and psoriasis.

11 Age

The back of the hands in particular is often noted as a tell-tale sign of someone’s age. Typically, we’re more susceptible to dry skin on hands as we get older. This is only natural and caused by the skin thinning over time, so it’s important to use our best hand creams to top up on moisture.