4 skin care tips for your hands
Carry hand cream and sanitizer with you
By now, you’ve grown accustomed to spraying on sanitizer every time you touch a surface in public and washing your hands when you get home. While it’s smart to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can also put a lot of strain on your hands. In fact, the same winter symptoms, like dryness or irritation, can pop up with frequent cleaning and scrubbing, says Dr. Berson.
“Antibacterial cleansers are often drying, while sanitizing gels that contain alcohol strip our body’s natural moisturizing oils,” she explains. They may also exacerbate cracking, irritation and eczema. Also apply moisturizer every time you use a sanitizer or wash. This will help repair damage and keep the skin smooth. Using moisturizer after washing your hands doesn’t negate your washing efforts. Even if your hands are dry from frequent hand washing, continue to wash your hands to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Protect your hands from temperature changes
As the temperature drops, the heat in the room rises. This makes the air in and out of your home drier than other seasons, causing your hands to become chapped, red, itchy, and in some cases scaly. This can be uncomfortable for everyone, especially those with skin conditions like eczema. To protect your hands, Dr. Berson recommends purchasing a fragrance-free, dye-free hand cream or ointment. Look for products that contain lipids (such as ceramides), moisturizers (such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid), and occlusives (such as mineral oil or petroleum jelly). When these superstar ingredients work together, they ensure your skin is moisturized and hydrated, even on the coldest days of the year. Use products that come from a squeeze tube, as these are more effective than thin lotions that come from a bottle.
“Moisturizers should be used more often [in cold weather]especially after getting your hands wet,” adds Dr. Berson. Apply moisturizer when skin is still damp after showering or washing, or if it feels dry.
It seems obvious, but we forget that the sun’s UV radiation doesn’t discriminate where it lands, and any exposed skin is at risk. If you don’t protect your hands from these harmful rays, you can develop discolored spots (called freckles or age spots), roughness, wrinkling and dryness, says Dr. Berson. The hands are also prone to precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses (AKs), which can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer.
To ward off these early signs of aging and protect your health, she recommends applying sunscreen on all uncovered skin, including your hands, year-round when you’re outside. “Some brands of sunscreen are for the body rather than the face, and are usually easy-to-apply lotions. But the most important thing is that your sunscreen is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, has an SPF of at least 30, and you apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. Spread evenly.”
Celebrity care for your hands at night
When you start a night of self-care that includes wearing comfy pants and a cozy drink, add a hand-care step to your routine. Dr. Berson recommends soaking hands in warm water or milk before applying creams or ointments to lock in moisture. Then, put on cotton gloves. Turn on your humidifier before tucking yourself in and let the cream work its magic overnight. Wake up in the morning with smooth, healthy hands ready for whatever happens today or in 2021.