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Natural Awakenings Boston

Preventing and Healing Dry, Sore, Winter Hands : Simple Habits That Can Make a Difference

Feb 27, 2015 01:54PM ● By Janet Renaccio

Winter is tough on hands, causing dryness, soreness and split cuticles from the cold air and lack of moisture that characterize the season. Rough, cracked and splitting skin can be hard to heal during winter months, when it seems as if no amount of lotion, cream or oil can help and relief is short-lived. While many people reach for drugstore variety lotions, they are usually designed for continual reapplication, as the first ingredients are typically mineral oil, water and alcohol. Hands slathered with these lotions often feel dry again in minutes. Fortunately, there are three simple habits that can heal and prevent sore winter hands:

• Exfoliation: Wash hands gently two to three times per week with an exfoliating cane sugar scrub to remove dead skin cells, which create a barrier and prevent moisturizers from penetrating past the thick, dry top skin layer. Look for such healing ingredients as natural cane sugar, shea butter and botanical essential oils, and stay away from salt scrubs, as salt draws moisture out.

 • Hydration: Apply a quality hand cream after exfoliating to seal in moisture and protect the skin. Reapply anytime you feel dry, especially after washing hands. Keep a small container of hand cream in your kitchen, purse, office, bedside and anywhere else that makes it easy to grab and use, and don’t forget to apply before bedtime. If your hands are extremely dry, wear cotton gloves to bed. When choosing a good lotion, look for such healing and moisturizing ingredients as natural lanolin and allantoin.

• Protection: Always wear gloves when outdoors. Even a few seconds in the cold and wind can cause the skin on your hands to look like crepe paper and make them more prone to split and crack around nails and cuticles. Keep some inexpensive, washable gloves or mittens in your pocketbook, car and desk, and wear them when going out, even for a second. This can make a difference after just one week. When cleaning and washing dishes, wear rubber or protective gloves to protect skin from exposure to soap and water. Cleaning products can be harsh on hands, even natural or green products, and can be absorbed through cuts or sores. Cleaning solvents will also aggravate and worsen sores and cause nail polish to wear off.

Finally, seek treatment from a dermatologist if you have pain, inflammation or deep cuts that won’t heal.

Janet Renaccio is the owner of Atir Natural Nail and Skin Care Day Spa, located at 115 Great Road in Acton. For more information, call 978-263-1080 or visit