Some people will be washing their hands more frequently to avoid getting a cold or the flu now that it's winter. Though it's good to be cautious protecting yourself against disease, it also can create dangerous conditions for your skin. You can be stripping your skin's protective natural oils and cause pain and dryness or even worse with cracking, peeling, and bleeding, which can lead to fissures and infection.
I'm not saying you should stop washing your
hands. However, you might want to use warm water instead of hot
when you do. Hot water will strip those natural oils from your skin far
faster than washing with warm water.
The next thing to do is always remember to create
a moisture barrier after each washing to keep the water on your hands from
evaporating. Keep a bottle of hand lotion on your desk in plain view
and apply every time you return from the rest room or at least five times at
Look for formulas that contain ingredients for
both emollients (lubricants) such as lanolin, squalene, and jojoba oil and
humectants (moisturizing agents that can draw moisture from the air) like
hyaluronic acid, urea, aloe, and lactic acid.
Pay particular attention to lotions with shea
butter since it is both an emollient and humectant, double the benefit!
You might also try to avoid hand creams and
lotions with fragrance while your hands are not up to par. Fragrance at
this time can make them extra sensitive.
If all else fails and you're getting minimal
relief from hand creams and lotions, there is a home remedy that you may want to
try that will help heal the chapping. Soak a thin cloth napkin or a piece
of muslin in a mix of a half cup of milk to a half cup of water. Wring the
wet cloth and place on your hands for about ten minutes. The protein from
the milk is what helps heal that damaged dry, chapped skin.
For more help, do read my post winter weather hand care.