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Dry, Flaking Hands

By Blair Foy ; Updated July 18, 2017

Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or greeting a lifelong friend, shaking hands when yours are dry, cracked and flaking can cause embarrassment and discomfort. A quick rundown of the causes of dry skin will help you figure out the right treatment to heal your hands. Then restoring smoothness to your skin is just a few steps away.

What You'll Notice

Tight skin is often the first sign that your hands are abnormally dry. Tight, dry skin on the inside of your hands, especially your fingers, indicates that your skin cells are depleted of moisture. Other symptoms of dry skin include red, visibly ashy skin that is rough to the touch. Severely dry skin will flake off or crack, and splits in the skin can even bleed.

Find the Cause

Dry skin may be caused by medical or environmental issues. Skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, can affect the entire body, including busy hands. Environmental factors, such as extremely cold temperatures, low humidity and overexposure to water or cleansers, can also lead to dry, chapped hands. Keep your hands smooth by anticipating environmental factors. Wear warm gloves in cold weather, sleep with a humidifer to add moisture to dry air and wear rubber gloves when your hands will be submerged in liquids, such as when washing dishes or scrubbing floors.

OTC Treatments

While certain skin conditions should be treated by a dermatologist, flaking hands caused by environmental issues can be remedied with a trip to the skincare aisle at the drugstore. Start with a very gentle cleanser that is fragrance-free. Stay away from abrasive exfoliants or strong fragrances. Choose a thick moisturizing cream, such as shea butter, to coat and protect dry skin. Look for ingredients such as glycerin, lanolin or petroleum to restore moisture to dried out skin cells.

Special Treatment

Grab some cotton gloves for a more intensive hand treatment. Start by soaking your hands in warm water with a gentle cleanser for five minutes. This will soften your skin and help remove dead cells. Gently dry your hands with a soft towel; rub your skin in circular motions to slough off dead skin cells. Generously apply a thick coat of moisturizing lotion to your hands, then put a pair of cotton gloves on over your lotion-saturated hands. Wear the gloves for at least a half an hour to allow the lotion to soak into skin. For intense skin treatment, wear the gloves overnight, then wake up to soft, healed hands.

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