How Can I Prevent My Hands From Getting Dry in the Winter? 14 Tips

Medically Reviewed on 5/9/2022
How Can I Prevent My Hands From Getting Dry in the Winter
Cold, dry air can suck moisture out of your skin and leave it dry and cracked. Learn how to prevent your hands from getting dry in the winter with these simple tips

Dry hands in the winter are very common. Cold, dry air can suck moisture out of your skin, leading to chapping and cracking. Frequent hand washing, harsh soaps, and health conditions like eczema can also contribute to dry skin on your hands.

No matter the cause, there are ways you can prevent your hands from getting dry in the winter. Here are 14 tips for keeping your hands hydrated.

14 tips to prevent your hands from getting dry in the winter

  1. Take short showers. Keep your showers under 10-15 minutes. Anything longer can strip natural oils from your skin and cause it to lose moisture.
  2. Avoid hot water. As tempting as it may be to crank up the heat in your bath or shower during the winter, hot water can cause your skin to lose its natural oils. Keep your water temperature warm but not too hot.
  3. Avoid harsh soaps. Instead of using harsh soaps, choose cleansers with moisturizing ingredients.
  4. Avoid fragrances. Avoid using skincare products that contain fragrances and alcohol, as these can strip your skin and damage your moisture barrier.
  5. Use oils. Adding a drop or two of bath oils or essential oils to your bath water can help prevent your hands from getting dry.
  6. Skip the scrub. During the winter when your skin is more sensitive, avoid using scrubbing brushes in the shower or rubbing yourself dry with a towel. Use gentle washcloths instead and pat yourself dry.
  7. Apply moisturizer right after washing. Applying moisturizer immediately after taking a bath or hand washing helps seal in moisture while your skin is still damp.
  8. Reapply moisturizer throughout the day. Reapply moisture during the day and evening, especially after hand washing.
  9. Use Vaseline. Petroleum jelly and other thick moisturizers can help treat very dry skin by locking in moisture. If you dislike the greasy feeling, rub a small amount in your palms first before rubbing it onto the backs of your hands.
  10. Avoid scratching. If your hands feel itchy, resist the urge to scratch, as this can cause your skin to crack further.  
  11. Wear gloves. Wear gloves when you need to be outdoors. You can also wear gloves after moisturizing your hands before bed to help the moisturizing absorb more fully into your skin overnight.
  12. Use a humidifier. During the winter, use a humidifier to offset the dryness in the air. 
  13. Use gentle detergent. Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners, as these can be harsh on the skin.
  14. Avoid irritating fabrics. Avoid wearing rough fabrics such as wool, as they can irritate the skin.

What causes dry skin in winter?

Your skin has many layers. The outermost layer is made up of dead skin cells that are embedded in a mixture of natural oils produced by healthy skin cells. These natural oils have the following functions in the body:

  • Retains water
  • Prevents loss of moisture
  • Protects against irritating substances and germs

Both skin oils and dead skin cells hold a certain amount of water that helps keep the skin soft and supple. During the winter, however, the low humidity in the air can cause water to escape from this protective barrier through evaporation, leading to dry skin.

Other reasons for skin dryness in winter include:

  • Lack of sunlight, which causes inflammation and other disorders
  • Vitamin deficiencies

While you may not be able to completely avoid dry skin in the winter, with the right precautions you can prevent your skin from drying out or getting worse.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/9/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Image

The University of Iowa. Winter dry skin. https://uihc.org/health-topics/winter-dry-skin

Cleveland Clinic. The Best Winter Skin Care Tips. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/tips-to-combat-dry-skin-in-winter/

Harvard Health Publishing. What to do about dry skin in winter. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/what-to-do-about-dry-skin-in-winter