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How to keep your hands healthy and moisturized this winter

Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020
 
man outside rubbing his hands in the winter

Most people have experienced dry hands that itch and may even crack. Everyone is washing their hands and using alcohol rub more than usual this year, and it's not a good time to be skimping on the recommended 20-second time frame for hand washing. 

We still have many months of this ahead of us, so how can we best manage our hands? There are other factors, besides hand hygiene, which contribute to making our hands vulnerable.  Addressing these will go a long way in preventing hand irritation.

With the onset of the cold weather, indoor spaces are now a bit drier than before. Because of this, we lose more moisture from our skin on a daily basis. We may be leaving the house for errands, unloading the groceries from the car or walking the dog and forget to grab our protective mittens and gloves. The cold and the wind also contribute to dry, chapped hands.

With a long winter ahead of us, take a look at our do’s and don’ts that will help you protect your hands and not fear or avoid hand washing or sanitizing.

Don’ts
 

  • Do not use dish soap when you are in the kitchen to wash your hands. Dish soap is formulated to remove grease from dishes, and as such will strip your skin of natural oils more than regular soap. 
     
  • Hot water is a no-no. Water for hand washing should be lukewarm. Be sure to avoid long hot showers.
     
  • Don’t over dry or rub your hands, pat them gently with a clean towel as rubbing them can irritate them.
     
  • Apply lotion as soon as you can, even while hands are still slightly damp in order to trap moisture.

Do’s
 

  • Do wear rubber gloves to wash dishes, and also keep other cleaners away from your hands.
     
  • Do use gentle soap meant only for skin. Soap does not need to be harsh, nor do you need to use a lot. Avoid perfumed soaps.
     
  • Choose a good moisturizer, which should be from a tube or tub. These work better than the ones that come in a pump. Dermatologists often recommend lotions containing ceramides, which help replenish our skin’s natural lipid barrier.
     
  • Try to use a humidifier in your house during the cold winter months. Humidity should be at least at 30-40%, with 60% recommended by some doctors.
     
  • Use good gloves and mittens outside that will block the wind and keep hands warm and supple. Some people also like to put on a heavy moisturizer followed by cotton gloves, sometimes overnight.

Most of these steps are easy to implement, and will go a long way in helping your hands this winter. If you are experiencing pain in your hands or any other area of the body, find a therapist near you or book an appointment online.

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