How Do I Stop My Hands From Getting Dry in the Winter?

Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2022
How do I stop my hands from getting dry in the winter?
Dry skin in winter can happen to anyone even if your skin is otherwise oily.

Because winter air is dry and less humid, your hands are more prone to getting dry.

  • Using heaters makes your surroundings even drier.
  • Regular handwashing with soap dries your skin because all the natural oils are stripped off from the skin. Lack of moisture leads to skin dehydration, causing the skin to crack, peel and bleed.

Learn ten tips to prevent dry hands in the winter below.

10 tips to prevent dry hands in the winter

  1. Choose the right soap
    • A soap bar causes the skin to dry out. Instead, use a moisturizing hand wash to clean your hands. Look for glycerin and lanolin in the handwash; these soften the skin's outer layer and help retain water. Moisturizing shower washes are available.
    • The golden guideline is to stay away from anything that lathers. Bubbles are harmful to dry skin. Avoid scented soaps.
  2. Never skip moisturizer
    • Always use a moisturizer after washing your hands. Switch to thicker creams or ointments over light lotions especially if you have cracked, peeling hands. Lighter hand creams or lotions may be helpful and comfortable during the day, but you need to use them often. 
    • You could restore the damage to your skin at night. Choose a cream or ointment over a lotion. Petroleum jelly-containing ointments are highly effective.
    • If your hands are in poor condition, avoid anything with a scent because it is more likely to aggravate them. Apply adequate cream and let it moisturize your skin as you sleep, and you will wake up with softer hands.
    • In addition to rich moisturizers, baby oil can work wonders. Oil can more effectively retain moisture than moisturizers.
  3. Use a humidifier
    • Using a humidifier can be beneficial to your skin. Higher humidity levels will moisturize your dry hands and help relieve dry, itchy skin (including chapped lips) and alleviate a stuffy nose. You must clean the equipment to avoid releasing germs or mold into the air.
  4. Put on gloves
    • When you wear gloves or mittens when you are outside, the humidity of the air adjacent to your skin rises, slowing water loss from the skin.
  5. Use skin-friendly laundry products
    • If you have dry skin in the winter, change your washing products. Look for detergents that are free of colors and scents because they can irritate the skin.
    • Dryer sheets are another common source of winter itch. Avoid using dryer sheets completely or choose a brand produced from a paper sheet rather than a composite fiber sheet.
  6. Stop using hand sanitizer
    • Hand sanitizer includes alcohol, which can cause skin irritation. If you do not work in the medical sector, simple hand washing should be enough.
  7. Take warm water showers
    • Hot water irritates your skin and drains off all the moisture. The skin is sensitive during winters, so take showers with warm water or to the temperature suitable for bathing a baby.
  8. Dry gently and rehydrate
    • After every shower, the skin tends to absorb more moisture. As your skin dampens, it becomes more sensitive. Hence, gently pat off the excess water from the skin, and never rub it vigorously.
    • Use a nonscented moisturizer on the skin right away. Mineral oil and petroleum jelly are excellent after-shower moisturizers. Creams in a tub are often more hydrating than lotions in a container.
  9. Use a sunscreen
    • Light clouds and fog allow the sun rays to pass through, and snow reflects sunlight. Because your skin is dry, this increases the danger of ultraviolet radiation exposure on your skin. You must always use a sunblock with a sun protection factor of 25 or above in the winters to protect your skin.
  10. Healthy lifestyle
    • You must keep your body in check. The intake of plenty of fluids will keep your skin hydrated from the inside. Eating healthy food maintains proper digestion and reduces toxins in your body and keeps your skin healthy. Proper sleep at night will improve your immunity and rejuvenate your skin by repairing the skin cells.


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What makes your skin drier in winter?

The skin's outermost layer is made up of dead skin cells combined with natural oils, proteins, and lipids produced by the live skin cells beneath them. These natural skin oils prevent water from escaping your body into the air, as well as protect against irritating chemicals and pathogens from entering the body.

Both skin oils and dead skin cells include water, which helps maintain the skin supple, flexible, and smooth.

  • Dry skin occurs when the top layer of skin cells is dehydrated due to there is insufficient water.
  • This can occur when protective oils in the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum) are removed, allowing water present in the skin to escape.
  • If you have a poor barrier, you are more likely to have sensitive skin symptoms, such as itching, inflammation, and eczema.

Excessive soap usage, exposure to harsh chemicals, the natural aging process, and some types of skin diseases cause dry skin. The skin shrinks as it dries, and because it shrinks, small cracks are formed. This exposes the live cells underneath to irritants and microorganisms in the environment.

Dry skin in winter can happen to anyone even if your skin is otherwise oily.

When should you see a dermatologist?

Consult a dermatologist if your skin becomes inflamed, red, spotty, scaly, itchy, or crusty. They can prescribe a topical steroid cream to help reduce irritation, determine whether your skin is naturally dry or whether dry skin is a result of a skin disease (such as eczema or psoriasis), and treat the disease.

If your skin is healthy and you take basic care of it, such as resisting the impulse to warm up in hot water and having simple, efficient medicines on hand, you can get through the winter until spring arrives.

Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Treating fever in adults.

Rush University Medical Center. 5 Tips to Keep Hands From Drying and Cracking.

American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatologists' Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin.

ThedaCare. Why Do I Keep Getting Dry Cracked Hands in the Winter.