Winter is here and, as you may have noticed, your skin may be feeling a bit dry. Some of us are at more of an increased risk than others, however it is something that a great majority may notice, particularly on our hands.
Why does this happen?
When the temperature outside drops, the heat goes on. Switching on the furnace means drier, warmer air inside of our homes which can translate to less humidity that is present, even with a built-in humidifier. Seeking relief from the cold, we may also start taking longer, hotter showers or washing our hands with hot water. All of this can contribute to dry, cracked skin that is sensitive and sore.
Even when we try to help our hands by applying moisturizer, we can experience irritation, stinging, and burning from the products that are meant to help us when our skin barrier is compromised. So, what do we do?
Here’s how to help
Let’s talk about some of the easiest options that we may have to help. We can start by adding some humidity back into our air. Simply running a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom at night can help alleviate dry skin not only on our hands, but our faces and everywhere else on our body. This can also be beneficial for reducing static electricity in our hair and help soothe irritated sinuses. Remember to clean out and sanitize your humidifier as per the manufacturer’s recommendations so that it does not harbor bacteria and mold.
Secondly, we recommend keeping the water temperature low when showering and washing hands. Don’t linger in the shower more than ten minutes and use gentle soaps and cleansers such as Dove Sensitive Skin Soap. When washing your hands, gently pat them dry afterwards. Avoid rubbing as this will further irritate your skin. Always wear gloves when washing dishes by hand. Dish detergent can especially wreak havoc on your hands.
Which moisturizers are best?
Choosing a moisturizer can be a daunting task with so many options available. We have a few recommendations for our over-the-counter favorites that are not likely going to cause stinging and burning when applied.
For a general basic moisturizer that does not sting, we like La Roche-Posay Lipikar Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream for use throughout the day as needed. It is easy to spread, easily absorbed, and does not feel greasy.
If you feel you need something heavier or for night-time use, we suggest Neutrogena’s Unscented Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. A little bit goes a long way, but this one goes on relatively easy and seems to absorb fairly quickly without leaving your hands feeling overly greasy. It can be used during the day, too.
Finally, if your hands, elbows, or other areas of your skin are extremely dry or cracked and you need a little extra, try Aquaphor Healing Ointment Body Spray. A little goes a long way and it goes on so light, it won’t leave you feeling gooped up! We like to use this one just prior to going to bed at night. It is so much more elegant than applying the ointment version.
If your hands are extremely dry, you can wear plain cotton gloves over a heavy ointment like CeraVe Healing Ointment or Vaseline at night.
How we can help
There you have it! We hope that you found these tips helpful and would love to hear from your experiences.
If you need additional help with dry winter skin or eczema, visit our link to schedule a virtual visit with our Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner for an evaluation. It’s quick and easy!