The joy of Spring is more outdoor activities and blooming gardens. But with every positive there’s sometimes a downside and dry hands that flake and crack are often a result of Spring living.
Cracked dry hands are often not caused simply by hard-working Spring hands.
Sore cracked dry hands are more likely caused by underlying skin conditions, namely eczema or contact dermatitis from cleaning products or chemicals in personal care products as well as less common conditions such as exfoliative keratolysis.
So, Spring activities can be a trigger for dry hands flare ups but not the root cause.
It’s important when choosing a hand cream for very dry, chapped and cracked Spring hands to make sure it’s also hypoallergenic and free from ingredients that can make skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis worse.
Dermatologist Dr Eva Melegh gives her 6 top tips on how to prevent cracked dry hands this Spring;
# Tip 1 – Don’t scrub your hands clean after gardening
If you love gardening, then it’s likely that you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. However, when it comes to cleaning hard-working gardening hands, it’s important not to use over scrub hands or use stronger forms of detergents, hand washes or soaps to get the dirt off. Even if fingers and nails are stained, never be tempted to use any form of bleach or solvents to get the dirt off.
Most dry hand skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and exfoliative keratolysis are made worse by exposure to irritants such as soaps, detergents and solvents.
Scrubbing hands with a nail brush or loafer is also very abrasive and may cause micro damage to sensitive and over-used hands that can trigger an eczema flare.
It’s better to soak dirty hands and nails in warm (not hot) water with some natural oil in it such as rosehip or even normal olive oil until the dirt gently soaks off.
# Tip 2 – Put sun cream on backs of your hands
The last place that most of us think of putting sun cream is on our hands.
If you are doing an activities that requires your hands to be exposed in the sun, such as cycling, playing golf, riding or gardening, its important to use an SPF on your hands to avoid sun burn from Spring sun.
Sun burn to the hands can quickly lead to dryness and flaking and can also trigger flares of both hand eczema and dermatitis.
Preferably use a mineral based SPF designed for sensitive skin.
#Tip 3 - Wear cotton gloves inside gardening gloves to prevent dry hands
If you are wearing gloves to do the gardening that’s great as they help protect hands from damage.
However gardening gloves can also be quite abrasive to hands, especially if you are doing heavy gardening work. In addition, the materials of many gardening gloves combined with the sweat the builds up inside the glove can be irritating to hands prone to eczema, dermatitis and exfoliative keratolysis and lead to a flare up of dryness and cracking.
To avoid this, wear a pair of thin cotton inner gloves under your gardening gloves.
#Tip 4 – Protect hands from BBQ heat
Those lovely warm Spring days means many of us will be getting the BBQ out.
What people don’t realise is how much the heat from BBQ’s can dry out hands. If the BBQ can cook sausages, it also does a degree of roasting of hands too.
Wear heat-protective gloves when tending the BBQ and use longer BBQ utensils so that hands don’t get too close to the coals.
#Tip 5 – Beware of blisters from chapped hands
Spring hands are not used to working after a long winter of being indoors, so hand blisters are common during the first few weeks of Spring activities.
Exfoliative keratolysis is a skin condition that causes small blisters, mostly on the fingertips and palms.
It’s tempting to pop blisters but try to resist. Once a blister is popped, the skin barrier function is damaged and quickly bacteria can get in and lead to inflammation which can trigger a hand eczema or dermatitis flare as well as increased moisture loss.
# Tip 6 – Use Hypoallergenic hand creams on dry hands
Considering the fact that many dry and cracked hands are caused by underlying skin conditions, hand creams used to re-hydrate them should be hypoallergenic.
If your hands are prone to dryness, cracking and flaking it’s best to avoid hand creams with any perfumes in, as well as ones that contain MI, SLS, Lanolin, petroleum or alcohol.
Ideally use a rich hand cream or salve that’s low in chemical preservatives, is certified for use on sensitive skin and eczema and contains low-reactivity and hypoallergenic moisturising ingredients.
Try Hydrosil Turmeric Butter & Hypoallergenic Milk Salve 2-3 times daily which contains hypoallergenic donkey milk to soften and soothe dry sore skin, turmeric butter to intensely hydrate dry skin and the phytosteroid cardiospermum to help reduce any inflammation or itching.