How to Treat Dry Hands

How to Treat Dry Hands

Dry hands are a constant struggle, but there are solutions within reach. Perhaps just like you, we felt as though we’d tried everything, but finally realized that the secret isn’t just finding the best hand cream; it’s the preventive steps and behavioral changes that ensure dry, cracked hands (including dry fingertips) don’t keep happening.

How to Fix Dry Hands

  • Always protect your hands from exposure to dish detergent, laundry detergent, and household cleansers that contain bleach or ammonia. Wear kitchen gloves when you’re using such products.
  • Wash your hands less often. Excessive handwashing strips skin of vital moisture, and it’s made worse when the hand wash you use contains strong detergents and fragrance, which most do.
  • Use hand sanitizer less often, and switch to an alcohol-free hand sanitizer. Routine exposure to the amount of alcohol found in most hand sanitizers can cause or worsen dryness and cracked skin.
  • Our trick to stop the cycle of rough hands: Switch from your liquid or bar hand soap to an emollient body wash such as Dove Sensitive Skin or Olay Ultra Moisture. Place these types of products strategically throughout your home and your hands will thank you.
  • Wear outdoor work gloves when you’re doing manual chores such as yard work and gardening; wear sport-type gloves when golfing or engaging in other athletic activities.
  • The sooner you apply a cream for dry hands after washing, and the longer you can keep it on, the better. Any good dry hand cream will work, especially if it's gentle.

Another thing you can do is keep small tubes or bottles of moisturizer all over the house, including near the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, at your bedside, and in the garage. Keep more in your car, purse, briefcase, and desk drawer. Essentially, a hand moisturizer should always be within reach, and for daytime use, remember to follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater layered on top.

Best Products for Dry, Cracked Hands

What else can you do? We’ve been there with dry, cracked hands—through trial and error, and by consulting the scientific research, we’ve got more advice to share on dry hands treatment:

  • An intense treatment for dry cracked hands is excellent to use at night. Dab it on especially dry, rough areas, including cracked fingertips. Seal in the benefits (and keep your sheets clean) by putting on a pair of lightweight cotton gloves before getting into bed.
  • Consider an over-the-counter cortisone cream to reduce cracks that occur. Cortisone creams should be used only on a short-term basis (no more than 2–3 months), and should be applied before your hand cream.
  • If the cracks are deep and you’re worried about them becoming worse, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about applying a liquid bandage product to seal the area and help it heal faster.
  • Severely dry hands can benefit from overnight treatment with moisture-infused gloves. These unique gloves are lined with a synthetic material that slowly releases moisturizing ingredients as they are worn. You can use them with or without a separate moisturizer.
  • Don't forget your cuticles. Massage a bit of extra moisturizer or balm into the cuticles to keep them from becoming rough and ragged. A body butter for extremely dry hands is great for keeping cuticles in top shape.

Learn more about body care.

References for this information:
Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2014, pages 213–224
Dermatitis, July-August 2013, pages 170–175
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2012, pages 402–415
Contact Dermatitis, May 2012, pages 247–253
BMC Dermatology, February 2006, ePublication

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!