Beauty | 02.29.2024

How to Fix the Dry Skin on Your Hands

Woman shaking hands with smooth, moisturized hands.

By Franki Hanke

Your face may be your first impression, but your hands come right after, so having dry hands is not only uncomfortable but embarrassing. Use these tips to heal and avoid dry skin on your hands. 

JUMP TO: How to Avoid | How to Fix

Why are my hands dry? 

Even people with well-hydrated skin everywhere else can experience dry skin on their hands specifically. Seasonally, winter’s cold weather can make skin drier, but if it’s only your hands that feel so scaly and dry, it’s likely due to exposure. 

Hands touch irritants more frequently. 

Our hands come into more contact with potential skin irritants than any other skin as we touch and interact with the world. Products like detergents for cleaning, gardening, or other processes often irritate the skin. 

A close-up of a woman washing her hands, which can strip the skin's moisture and cause dry skin on hands.
Hand washing strips natural oils

Frequent handwashing is essential for avoiding the spread of illness and bacteria, but it does have repercussions for our skin. When we wash, especially with hot water, we strip away the skin barrier of moisturizing oils. Hand sanitizer is similarly drying. 

The solution to this is not less hand-washing though. Being sick with gorgeous (disgusting) hands isn’t a solution! 

How to Avoid Dry Skin on Hands

The best way to maintain smooth, healthy skin on your hands is to avoid the causes before the skin becomes itchy or unsightly. 

Pay attention to flare-ups. 

Different irritants or allergens can trigger flare-ups in eczema, which is often a precursor to dry skin. Notice if your skin is frequently behaving worse after handling a certain food or doing a specific chore. There may be an irritant in one of those routines you can remove or avoid. 

Turn down the temperature. 

When you’re washing your hands, you don’t need to scald them! You shouldn’t be. Wash with warm water and a gentle cleanser. 

Re-Apply moisture.

Once you’ve finished washing your hands, gently shake them to remove most of the water before applying a lotion to damp hands. Leaving some water on your hands lets the lotion seal that water. If they don’t feel dry enough, pat gently dry with a towel ahead of your lotion. 

Then, rehydrate them with a hand cream. Everyone’s personal preferences and skin affect skin care, so I recommend buying a few travel sizes to use throughout your routine until you hone in on your favorite lotion. 

As a starting place, choose from these healthcare worker favorites, because no one washes their hands more than them. All three have similar ingredients for a basic, rich moisturizing cream for sensitive skin. 

  • Gold Bond Ultimate Healing – includes aloe for post-water soothing
  • Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream – includes lactic acid 
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Formula – simple formula with fatty acids

Place lotion throughout your daily routine so encourage frequent use. Rather than apply a big glob that will slime all over, apply lotion frequently with a small amount that sinks in faster. Including lotion at all your sinks, alongside soap, and in all your frequent locations encourages this. 

Wearing gloves when interacting with cleaning products can protect skin from dryness.

Wear gloves. 

Limit your skin’s exposure to irritants and water by wearing gloves, especially when cleaning, gardening, or dishwashing. 

Waterproof Gloves for Cleaning/Dishwashing
Reusable Gloves
Reusable cleaning gloves feature grippy textured fingers and are comfortable to wear.

For less waste and more durability, opt for reusable gloves. Korean brand Mamison, a favorite of Rachel Khong of The Strategist, makes gloves superior to the typical American supermarket find. There’s a grippy texture across them and a thick, protective construction.  

When you’re done cleaning, wash your hands (with the gloves on) to thoroughly scrub them clean themselves then let them hang dry for your next use. Washed well, one pair of gloves can be used for all jobs. 

Buy Mamison rubber gloves on Amazon. 

Disposable Gloves
Showa's disposable gloves decompose 80% faster than other nitrile gloves.

If you do opt for disposable gloves for added dexterity or peace of mind for contamination, opt for Showa’s 7500PF model which is nitrile-based (not latex) and decomposes 80% faster than typical disposable gloves. This model is FDA-cleared for medical use so you know they are protecting your skin inside! 

Buy Showa disposable gloves on Amazon. 

Durable Gloves for Gardening

When you’re worried less about water soaking, but need more abrasion protection, opt instead for a protective barrier material like leather for a better balance between comfort and functionality. 

All-Purpose Work Gloves

Colorful all-purpose gloves can be used for gardening and other outdoor work.

For most gardening tasks, these pigskin leather and mesh gloves balance protection with extra breathability. Plus, there’s a variety of cute colors to choose between. 

Buy Handlandy’s colorful gardening gloves on Amazon

Protective Gardening Gloves

Designed by an orthopedic expert, these gloves offer more protection against thorns.

However, if you often work with thorny roses or weeds, increase your protection with orthopedically-designed gauntlet gloves which extend towards your elbow for full protection. 

Buy Bionic’s thorn-safe gauntlet gloves on Amazon or Target

Hydrate well.

Your skin is an organ, and it responds to your nutrition and hydration alongside the rest of your body. If your hands are drier lately, it could be due to less hydration or more dehydrating drinks like alcohol. 

Fix Dry Skin on Hands

Develop a skincare routine for your hands.

If your hands frequently suffer, add some care into your routine specifically for them. 

In the morning, apply sunscreen lotion, especially to the backs of your hands that are exposed while driving. Find a sunscreen in The #1 Way to Look Younger (That You’re Overlooking). 

Aveeno's soothing bath treatment can combat itchy, dry skin.

In the evening, soothe itchy skin with a soak. Colloidal Oatmeal has been linked with relief from itchy, irritated skin including eczema, and Aveeno’s bath treatment is the easiest way to get some oatmeal on your skin. Feel free to soak your entire body, or treat it like a manicure with a hand soak before any other nail care. 

Buy Aveeno’s Soothing Bath Treatment on Amazon. 

Before bed, apply lotion to sink into your skin as you sleep ( when you don’t need to touch a screen). You can use your usual go-to lotion or a thicker cream for overnight when you’re less concerned with it’s time to sink in. 

If your skin responds well to colloidal oatmeal as an active ingredient, Murad makes a dedicated hand lotion with oatmeal and cherry that can be used all day long 

Spot treat dry spots. 

If your knuckles or cuticles are seeing the most dryness or you have specific patches of irritated skin on your hands, spot-treat them often with extra moisture and protection. A petroleum jelly like Vaseline or a petroleum-blended protect like Aquaphor creates a thicker barrier to continuously hydrate. 

To keep your fingertips clean and grease-free throughout the day, use Aquaphor’s stick formulation to apply the product onto knuckles or dry patches without any rubbing. 

Buy Aquaphor’s Healing Balm Stick on Target

Alternatively, if your skin type typically doesn’t agree with the thickness of petroleum, you may get along better with a lanolin product. Lanolin is less occlusive, so it does trap less moisture, but this allows for more airflow between skin and air. Lanolips 101 Ointment is 100% lanolin and can be used on lips, hands, or anywhere. 

Buy Lanolip’s 101 Ointment on Target. 

Consult a dermatologist.

Some dry skin is normal, but painful or severe itching, flaking, peeling, or blisters may be a severe skin condition. Before attempting to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, contact dermatitis, or other medical conditions at home, let a dermatologist inspect and provide any specific advice. Skin conditions can be a sign of a larger underlying issue, and only a board-certified dermatologist can confirm that severity. 

If you’re prone to skin conditions, be mindful of any home remedies or home treatments as they can irritate sensitive skin. Prioritize fragrance-free, simple formulations that limit irritants or allergens. 

Regularly seeing a dermatologist is the best way to care for your skin as a key organ of your body. This article doesn’t replace medical advice. 

Dry skin on hands is uncomfortable, even if not severe, don’t put off taking steps to improve your skin. Soon, you’ll be ready to nail your second impressions. 

The above content may contain affiliate links. When you click and shop with our links, we receive a small commission to support our writers. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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