28-11-2017 | Dermatologist | Bodycare , Specific Care , Skin

How to prevent chapped hands

As time goes by, if there is one part of our body that suffers, it's our hands. The structure of the skin on our hands isn’t very different from the skin on our body but we use them continuously and don't always give them the treatment and care they need.

  

What is the skin on your hands like? 

Although it’s true that the general structure doesn’t differ much from the other parts of the body, there are some differences between the back and the palm of your hand.  

  • Palms and fingertips 

The horny layer is thicker and more robust. The dermis of the skin has a greater composition of adipose tissue and contains more connective tissue. As it is used basically for pressure, this structure makes it more resistant. As you know, there is no hair or sebaceous glands on the palms of your hands. Indeed, there is a very high density of sweat glands instead. Bear in mind that this composition means there is an ongoing deficiency of moisturising factors (no sebum but sweat).  

  • Back of the hand  

The skin here is very fine and thin because the dermis has practically no adipose tissue. There is little hair and very few sebaceous glands. These characteristics make it susceptible to dehydration and it is not well-protected against mechanical or environmental aggression.  

 

Why do hands crack?  

Hands can suffer from dehydration and dryness for various reasons, particularly in winter due to inclement weather. Plus, if you don't look after them well, inflammation or pain can appear which can sometimes turn into contact dermatitis or eczema 

Causes include: 

  • Low temperatures: Skin easily loses the stratum corneum in cold weather because it much more easily loses absorbed moisturisation. Sharp changes in temperature (indoor heating vs cold outdoors) also increase the risk of dehydration.  
  • Humidity: Very humid or dry environments can change the lipid composition of the skin. 
  • Excess hygiene: Hand hygiene must be very thorough and include soaps that respect the permeability layer, particularly on the back of the hands. Excess contact with water or soap can predispose you to dehydration.  
  • Contact with aggressive products like chemicals: Cleaning products can cause skin abrasions. Remember to always wear gloves. 
  • Mechanical stress: Daily work can negatively impact the skin on the palms of your hands. 
  • Inflammatory skin diseases or chronic systemic conditions can affect the hands (hypothyroidism, diabetes or psoriasis).  

 

How to protect your hands  

Our recommendations to protect your hands are based on protection (gloves) and the use of emollients, which will help create a protective film on the skin of your hands.  

Wash your hands, but with care:  

Water should not be hot, and you should always dry your hands afterwards. 

Apply soap to your palms because that is the part that gets dirtiest and is the most resistant. This avoids the more sensitive backs of the hands.  

We advise the use of alcohol-free soap which respects the structure of your skin.   

Always moisturise and repair:  

If you use a cream, make it one with a high lipid content in the form of an ointment and which contains interesting active ingredients like urea (moisturises and reduces itching) or centella asiatica (aids healing). It should also have moisturising elements (hyaluronic acid and shea butter), lipids (jojoba, argan and monoi oil) and vitamins (A, E and B5). Don't forget you can use it more frequently than other products. Get into the habit of applying hand cream after washing your hands.  

 

Following these tips will keep your hands soft and healthy. 


autor
DermatologistExpert in skin care

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