Our Five Ring Circus: How To Soothe & Heal Dry, Itchy, Cracked, Winter Hands

Thursday, January 23, 2020

How To Soothe & Heal Dry, Itchy, Cracked, Winter Hands

How To Soothe & Heal Dry, Itchy, Cracked, Winter Hands

Winter is upon us, and with it comes some pesky problems! So many people struggle with dry skin during the winter, but I was never one of them until just a few years ago. From the time the weather cools down until the time Spring arrives, I have to deal with dry, itchy, cracked hands.

I'm not quite sure what changed, and why it started recently. I don't have dry skin anywhere else on my body. I'm sure it's a combination of dry indoor heating, direct heat from car vents, and exposure to the cold, which is something I can't really change. I take a multivitamin, and we use a humidifier in our home. The dryness just lasts for a few months, and then goes away completely, but while it's here, it's really painful!

After dealing with this condition for several winters, and trying dozens of products, I finally learned a few tricks and found the best products to minimize the discomfort. I can usually keep my hands from getting too dry, keep the itchiness away, and keep the cracked fingertips down to one finger at a time. (Sure, it would be better if it was gone completely, but I'll take it over having painful cracks on every fingertip like I used to!) Here's how I deal with dry, itchy, winter hands...


Dry Hands

Drink LOTS of water.

I have a reusable glass water bottle, and I drink water all day long. If I don't drink enough water, there's a noticeable difference in how I feel and look. I'm not certain if upping your water intake will actually prevent dry skin, but it's good for you in so many ways, so it's worth it to try!

Take a multivitamin.

I try to get most of my vitamins/minerals from food, but I do take a daily multivitamin to fill any gaps in my diet.

Use a humidifier. 

Indoor heat can be very dry, so we use a humidifier during the winter. (Also worth noting: some recent studies have shown humidifier use to prevent the spread of germs!)

Wear gloves when it's cold outside. 

This is probably the area that I used to forget about most! I keep a pair of gloves in my pocket, and put them on while I'm driving or running outdoors. The high heat blowing on my hands in the car paired with the cold wind when I run was brutal.

Wear rubber gloves while doing dishes.

The only time I wear rubber gloves while doing household chores is in the winter. When I do have a crack on one of my fingertips, the hot water is really painful while doing dishes. I do notice that knuckles get itchy when I DON'T wear the rubber gloves!

Don't overuse hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer is great when nothing else is available, but using it all day long will really dry out your hands thanks to the high alcohol content. (Plus it really hurts if you have small cracks on your hands!) I only use it in the car, after I pump gas or leave a public place.

Choose hand soap wisely. 

Check the labels on your hand soap. Many have a high alcohol content, especially fancy ones and foaming hand soaps! Although many people swear by certain soaps like Castile soap, I just try to choose a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil. What truly gets the germs off your hands is the scrubbing action!

Apply hand cream frequently.

I apply a hand cream after I wash my hands, while my hands are just slightly damp. In the winter, I can feel how dry they get after I wash my hands. If I don't put it on, my hands feel tight, dry, and itchy. Keeping them moisturized is key to preventing all those cracks from forming!


Dry Winter Skin

Two years ago, when this all started, my fingertips cracked so bad that it actually made me tear up a few times. A friend recommended a treatment, and it actually worked. I looked ridiculous, and my husband teased me, but the cracks healed really fast! Now when I get a crack, I treat it before bed, and it always starts to heal overnight!

Just four simple steps:

  1. Before falling asleep, slather your hands with a thick hand cream (see below for my proven favorites).
  2. Dab a healing salve on the crack(s).
  3. Place a small bandaid on top of the crack(s).
  4. Put on a pair of cheap cotton gloves, and wear them all night!
Until the crack heals, make sure you continue the healing process by wearing gloves outdoors and rubber gloves while washing dishes!


The Best Hand Creams for Dry, Itchy, Cracked Hands

When this all started, I went through dozens of hand creams, lotions, and salves. My family and friends even started to buy products for me in hopes that they would help. Along the way, I found four products that REALLY help!

O'Keeffe's Working Hands

This is my absolute favorite! It was recommended by a lot of people, and when I put it on, my hands just feel GOOD. It absorbs well, doesn't smell, and isn't greasy, so this is the main hand cream that I use at home. If my hands feel itchy at any point, this immediately takes it away, and my hands feel soft for hours.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor works really well, but it is greasy. I mostly use this one when my fingertips are cracked, and I'm at home. I just don't like the greasy feeling when I'm on the go, but I do keep a small tube in my purse to dab on if I have a crack.

Bag Balm

Although this one stinks, it's the one that actually heals the cracks! This is what I use to dab onto the cracks before bed. Funny enough, my dad used to buy it at the feed store when I was a child, and I remember hating the smell. It was originally created for farm animals, but it works so well that it quickly became a popular healing salve for people!

Udderly Smooth Hand Cream

This is my on-the-go hand cream! It's leaves my hands feeling very soft, and helps with itchiness. I keep it in my purse, and put it on after I wash my hands every single time! It's a gentle formula, and doesn't hurt if I have cracked skin.

It has taken several years of trial and error, but I've gotten through these colder months with only a few cracks, which healed quickly with treatment. I would rather not have to deal with it, but I'm one of the many people who do. Although I try to find the positive in every season, this is why I prefer the warmer months!

What To Do For Dry Hands

Do you suffer from dry, itchy, cracked winter hands? I'm a firm believer in learning from each other, so if you have a tip or a favorite product, please share it in the comments!

How To Soothe & Heal Dry, Itchy, Cracked, Winter Hands

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