Every year around this time, I get a phone call from my father in Maine who wants to know what he can do about his dry, cracked fingers. He, as well as many of my patients here in LA, suffer from painful cracks in their fingertips during the cooler winter months. The cold temperatures outside and warm heat inside can lead to a lack of moisture in the skin. Hands can be particularly bothersome because the dryness can lead to painful cracking.
It is important to remember to avoid excessive water exposure on the skin, especially in the winter. Prolonged water on the skin will cause evaporation of moisture and lead to dryness. My father realized on his own that he was adding to the dryness by washing his hands with dishwashing detergent. It is common to grab the closest thing to the kitchen sink to wash your hands, and that is often the dish detergent. Because dishwashing detergent is designed to remove oils and grease from your crusted pots and pans, guess what it does to your skin? It removes the natural oils! During flu season, antibiotic hand washes are also very popular. They have an alcohol based chemical as the active ingredient, which is very drying to the skin. During the winter months, skip the dish detergent and antibacterial washes. Wash your hands with a moisturizing hand soap like Dove or SoftSoap. In fact, my father saw the difference in just a few weeks after switching to a moisturizing hand soap! Here is a picture of me, my dad and his dog Bailey on a snowy day in Maine!
Remember that it is important to moisturize immediately after water exposure. For very dry hands try Aveeno Intensive Relief Repair cream, or Neutrogena Norwegian hand formula. If you have painful cracks in your hands, apply Aquaphor ointment on the cracks with a bandaid before you go to bed. Very deep cracks can take a long time to heal. You may need a prescription cortisone cream to treat those deep painful cracks and prevent them from becoming infected.
It is the driest time of year right now so drink plenty of water and hydrate your skin! We are 2 weeks into the year and the holidays are already becoming a distant memory. I think I will settle in and enjoy the cool nights, a warm fireplace and a nice glass of wine!
Stay tuned for next month’s Confidence Beyond the Skin Newsletter Blog-“Sunless Tanners- How to achieve a safe and natural tan glow without the harmful rays!”
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