CJW Doc Minute: How do I treat dry skin?

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How to Treat Dry Hands

Three Methods:

Dry hands can make a cold, harsh winter even more miserable. They get itchy and painful, and sometimes they even crack and bleed. If you have chronic dry hands, the first thing to do is moisturize them right away. There are also steps you can take to keep them from drying out so much in the first place. If you have cracks or cuts, you may need to see a doctor. See Step 1 to learn more about taking care of those dry hands.


Moisturizing Your Hands

  1. Rub your hands with coconut oil.This rich natural oil provides a thick layer of protection and will leave your hands feeling moist and soft. absorbs into the skin fairly quickly, it smells wonderful, and best of all, it doesn't contain ingredients that can dry out your skin and make the problem worse. Carry a little pot of coconut oil around with you and apply as necessary throughout the day.
    • Look for unrefined coconut oil, rather than refined. Refined coconut oil is heated to a high temperature that removes properties that are beneficial for skin.
    • Other oils can also be effective. Try jojoba oil or almond oil if you prefer a different texture or scent.
  2. Try lanolin.Lanolin is the substance naturally produced by sheep to make their wool waterproof. In concentrated amounts, it also makes a wonderful emollient for skin, and is especially beneficial for dry, flaky hands. It creates a seal that keeps moisture in and protects your skin from the elements.
    • Look for a lotion or cream that lists lanolin as one of the main ingredients.
    • You can also buy pure lanolin, but it's easier to use when you mix it with a looser oil, since in its pure form it can be difficult to spread.
  3. Get a tub of petroleum jelly.This age-old, cheap product is great to have around when you have chronically dry hands. You can pick it up from any drugstore. Petroleum oil creates a good seal from the elements. The only drawback is that it doesn't absorb into the skin as well, and it tends to leave grease marks on items you touch. Use it when your hands are extremely dry or chapped.
  4. Avoid cheaper drugstore lotions.Many commercially-produced lotions contain alcohol, artificial fragrance, and other chemicals that actually dry out your skin instead of helping it heal. They provide temporary moisture, but in the long run they don't alleviate dry skin. Check the ingredients list on any bottle of lotion you pick up, even if it's labeled as being for very dry skin. If it has ingredients you have trouble pronouncing, you're better off choosing something else.
    • Look for lotions with all-natural ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, oils, essential oils, aloe, and beeswax.
    • You can make your own lotion to create the perfect blend for your skin type.
  5. Wear gloves to bed for soft, moisturized hands.If your hands are in need of some intensive therapy, slather them with your favorite oil or cream and put on a pair of cotton gloves. Do this before you go to bed, so the ingredients have time to condition you hands during the night. In the morning, when you take off the gloves, your hands will be soft and moisturized.
    • Doing this about once a week will keep your hands in good shape. For severely dry hands, you can do it every other night.
    • You may prefer to wear gloves during the day. During the winter months, if you're going to be out and about for awhile, try putting on cream before donning your winter gloves. Just make sure you wash them frequently, since they'll have residue from the oil inside.

Method 1 Quiz

What type of coconut oil should you use on your skin?

Keeping Them from Drying Out

  1. Drink plenty of water.When you get dehydrated, it can cause your skin to become flaky and dry and your hair to get brittle. If you don't tend to drink much water, try drinking several glasses every day. Within a couple of weeks, your skin should be less dry. Keep it up all year round for noticeably less dry skin.
    • If you're not sure whether dehydration is a problem, look at your urine. If it's clear or light yellow, you're well hydrated. If it's medium to dark yellow or even darker, you need to drink more water.
    • You may not think to drink water in the winter, but it's just as important to stay hydrated when it's cold outside as it is when it's hot. In cold weather your skin will be a lot more prone to getting dry, so keep yourself hydrated from the inside out.
  2. Wash your hands gently.Do you tend to scrub your hands when you wash them, and use hot water and strong soap? This routine is really hard on your hands. The skin on your hands can get dried out and cracked when you wash away all its natural protective oils. When you wash your hands, use warm water and a gentle soap, like castile soap. Pat them dry with a towel instead of rubbing them vigorously. Treat the skin on your hands as you would the skin on your face.
    • Look for a gentle soap that doesn't have sulfates, which are abrasive and drying. An oil-based, moisturizing soap is good for dry hands.
    • Only wash your hands when you really need to, like before meals and after using the bathroom. If you wash your hands too frequently, your skin will never get the chance to produce those protective oils.
    • If you work at a job that requires frequent hand washing, like in the medical field, try to use a moisturizing soap and put lotion on your hands immediately after washing them.
  3. Wear gloves when you handle harsh chemicals.Whether you're washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom with a bleach-based detergent or handling paint and other chemical-laden substances, you should wear protective rubber gloves. Exposing your hands to harsh cleansers and other chemicals wreaks havoc on your sensitive skin, not to mention the damage done when you have to scrub the chemicals off with hot water. Avoid the whole problem by wearing protective gloves whenever necessary.
  4. Wear sunscreen in the summer.Sun can cause skin to dry out in addition to causing UV damage. Many people apply sunscreen to their faces religiously, but forget to use it on their hands. Be sure to use an SPF of 30 or higher on your hands whenever you go out in the sun.
  5. Protect your hands in the winter.Winter temperatures and wind are tough on hands, so wear gloves when you go outside. Be sure to get insulated gloves that will prevent your knuckles and fingers from getting chapped. As an extra protective measure, you might want to apply cream or oil before you put on your gloves and go outside.
  6. Get a humidifier.If you live in a dry climate or a place with long, dry winters, you might want to get a humidifier for your home. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, creating a better environment for your skin. Having one can be especially helpful during the winter, when heating appliances dry up the moisture in the air. Depending on where you live, you might want to use a humidifier all year long.

Method 2 Quiz

Why should you avoid washing your hands too frequently?

Treating Cracks and Cuts

  1. Treat deep, bleeding cracks with first aid.If you have cracks that have started to bleed, you'll need to treat them the same way you would any other cut so you can prevent them from getting infected. Wash the cracks with soapy water, dry them with a clean towel, and apply bandages to protect the cracks and give them time to heal. Change the bandages every so often until the cracks heal.
    • You might want to use an antibacterial salve to help the cracks heal more quickly and keep them moist.
    • If the bleeding won't stop, or if the cracks seem to be infected, see a doctor for further treatment.
  2. Trim the sides of deep cracks.If you have very deep cracks that aren't bleeding, you can help them heal by trimming away the dead skin on the sides of the cracks. When you wash your hands, soapy water could be getting into the cracks and preventing the skin from healing over properly. Use a clean pair of cuticle trimmers to trim away the dead skin on either side of the cracks to create a more even surface, so water stops getting trapped in there.
    • After trimming the cracks, apply cream and bandage them to help them heal.
    • Be very careful not to trim too much. Don't cut deep enough to cause pain or bleeding.
  3. See a dermatologist to find out if there's an underlying problem.If you have very persistent or severe cracked skin, you could have an underlying condition that won't go away on its own, like eczema, psoriasis, or a fungal infection. A dermatologist might prescribe medication or give you advice on how to remedy the condition.

Method 3 Quiz

What should you use to trim dead skin from your hands?

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I treat my dry hands?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Make a sugar scrub by combining cocnut oil and sugar. Wet your hands (or any dry skin area) and scrub with the solution. Rinse off and your hands will be much softer.
  • Question
    Should I apply coconut oil to my hands everyday?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you should add cocount oil to your hands every day for softer skin.
  • Question
    Where can I get cotton gloves?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can buy cotton gloves online using sites like Amazon.
  • Question
    Can I use cocoa butter to moisturize my hands?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    How do I know if I have eczema, psoriasis, or a fungal infection?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If you suspect you have one of these affections you should see a dermatologist, as they can diagnose and treat you in the best way possible.
  • Question
    What can I use for cracked and bleeding hands?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    As the article states below, if you have cracked or bleeding hands you should probably see a doctor.
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  • Use aloe after sun exposure to restore moisture to hands.


  • If hand dryness worsens, visit a doctor.

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