If your hands are working hard for you, it may be time to show them a little respect. Certain conditions can cause the skin on your hands to become dry and eventually crack. Harsh winter weather, dry air and too much time washing dishes can all contribute to dry skin on your hands. If your hands have passed the point of "a little dry" and gone to full-blown, painfully dry and cracking, take steps to reverse the damage and ease the discomfort.
Limit the time your hands spend in water. If your job requires you to have a lot of contact with water, such as when washing dishes, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Use warm water rather than hot, which dries out your hands more quickly. Use oil-based moisturizing soaps that are free of alcohols and fragrances. Pat your hands dry with an absorbent dry towel; excessive rubbing can irritate the skin further.
Apply lotion liberally and often throughout the day. Use an oil-based moisturizing lotion or ointment that is fragrance free and contains no alcohols.
Wear warm, soft gloves to protect your hands from cold weather when you go outside. Choose a soft cotton material that won't scratch or further irritate the skin.
Relive pain and discomfort by placing an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables over your hands for five to 10 minutes to help numb the area. Do this as often as needed to help alleviate the pain.
Place a humidifier in your home to keep the air from becoming too dry and drying out your hands further. Keep the humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep.
Drink plenty of water during the day to keep your body hydrated and keep your skin from drying out further. Avoid fluids that can dehydrate you, such as caffeine and alcohol.
Talk to your doctor or a dermatologist if you don't see any improvement in your skin. See your doctor immediately if the itching and pain keep you awake at night or at the first sign of an infection, such as redness and swelling.
Melynda Sorrels spent 10 years in the military working in different capacities of the medical field, including dental assisting, health services administration, decontamination and urgent medical care. Awarded the National Guardsman’s Medal for Lifesaving efforts in 2002, Sorrels was also a nominee for a Red Cross Award and a certified EMT-B for four years.