Hands are a part of the body that is constantly exposed to external influences. Mechanical stress and aggressive environmental factors often lead to excessive dryness of the hands. This can show up in flaking, reddening and cracking of the epidermis. Hands become rough and rough to the touch, and every time they are touched, they cause discomfort. Aesthetics also suffers, because dry lifeless skin looks unattractive and emphasizes age-related changes. Careful attention to the condition of the skin on the hands and regular care can help to cope with dry hands and avoid unpleasant consequences.
Causes of dry and flaky hands
The structure and structure of the skin of the hands is different from that of other skin on the human body. Palms and fingertips are rich in adipose and connective tissue. Our palms have almost no sebaceous glands, and the moisturizing function is taken care of by the sweat glands. The skin on the back of the hands, on the other hand, has almost no adipose tissue, making it especially thin and sensitive. Sebaceous glands are also scarce, meaning that the hands do not produce enough lipids to form a protective barrier and cannot retain moisture for long periods. This anatomical structure is the main reason why hand skin is more prone to dryness than other epidermal tissues in our body.
Exposure to a variety of external and internal factors can exacerbate the situation.
External factors causing dry skin on the hands
Among the main external factors that negatively affect the hydrolipidic balance of the epidermis, experts highlight:
Exposure to household chemicals. Dish and kitchen washing, hand washing and cleaning are all activities that bring the skin of the hands into direct contact with household chemicals. These products contain harsh chemicals that break down lipids and irritate the epidermis. Frequent contact with household chemicals leads to a complete loss of the lipid barrier, thinning of tissues and the development of allergic dermatitis. To avoid these consequences you should wear special gloves when doing home work.
Climatic conditions. Excessively dry indoor air, frost and direct sunlight disturb sebum production. Since the hands produce only minimal amounts of lipids, these climatic factors can rob the epidermis of its ability to hold moisture. It causes dryness, tightness and flaking of tissues.
Washing your hands too often. Maintaining hygiene is the most important condition for preserving human health. However, washing your hands too often with soap and water disrupts the skin’s natural hydrolipidic balance, causing dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Experts recommend not washing your hands with soap and water more than 20 times a day and using moisturizing creams and oils after every wash.
Stresses.frequent and prolonged exposure of the human body to stress factors is accompanied by a release of specific hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones disrupt the production of hyaluronic acid, which binds water molecules, holding moisture in tissues. Hyaluronic acid deficiency is another probable cause of excessive dryness of the epidermis.
Inadequate nutrition. Compliance with strict diets for weight loss is often accompanied by a lack of necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the body. This has a negative effect on the skin of the whole body, including the hands. Especially dangerous for the epidermis deficiency of vitamins E, A and B3. To maintain a normal hydrolipid balance of tissues, it is important to ensure a balanced diet, as well as to drink plenty of pure water every day.
Occupational factors. People whose occupation is connected with constant mechanical pressure on the skin of the hands often face abrasion of the outer layer of the epidermis, which is accompanied by itching, irritation and dry tissue.
It is also important to note that dry hands are twice as common in people over the age of 40. This is because the natural aging process is always accompanied by a decrease in hyaluronic acid production and loss of moisture.
Internal factors that cause dry skin on the hands
The amount of sebum in the epidermal tissue and the lipid production activity varies from person to person. This, in particular, depends on the genetic characteristics of the organism. In this regard, among the main internal factors provoking dry hands, doctors call hereditary predisposition. In addition, soreness, flaking, thinning and cracking of the epidermis can indicate the development of such diseases:
Allergic dermatitis– manifested by pronounced dryness and pallor of the skin in response to exposure to an allergen;
Diabetes mellitus– Diabetic neuropathy impairs sweating. Since sweat glands play a major role in moisturizing the tissues of the palms, diabetes often causes them to become dry and flaky;
Eczema– is a chronic skin pathology, which in the neglected state is manifested by thinning of the skin of the hands and pronounced peeling;
Psoriasis– a genetic disease of epidermal tissues that manifests itself by the formation of flaky, scaly formations on the skin of the hands;
Fungal damage– fungus more often affects the skin of the feet, but in some cases, fungal infection also causes dry, flaky and itchy epidermis of the hands;
IchthyosisAnother genetic pathology of the skin, associated with a violation of the keratinization of cells.
If dryness and peeling of the skin of the hands causes painful sensations, accompanied by severe itching, peeling and the formation of open wounds, it is important not to self-medicate, but in time to consult a doctor to determine the exact cause of the pathology.
How to choose a moisturizer for dry hands
Modern moisturizing creams and lotions for hands help solve the problem of dry and flaky tissues. The most effective are occlusive cosmetic compositions. Such products form a thin gas-tight film on the skin, preventing evaporation of moisture from the surface of the epidermis. Occlusive products tend to be oil-based and fairly oily in texture. So that such creams absorb quickly and do not leave a greasy feeling on the hands, they include lighter emollients and moisturizers.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the list of the best ingredients in cosmetics to treat and protect dry skin on the hands, include such substances that provide an occlusive effect
Lanolin (natural animal wax obtained by boiling sheep’s wool).
For an intense moisturizing effect on the tissues, The cream should contain such components:
For the care of sensitive skin, you should choose options without fragrances and dyes, as they are less likely to cause tissue irritation. Special attention should be paid to the choice of consistency. Thick creams usually have a high oil content, providing a more lasting and long-lasting effect. Moisturizer should be applied several times during the day, and always before going to bed. Frequent use helps to restore the hydro-lipid balance, strengthen the skin barrier and eliminate discomfort.
5 rules for dry hands
Dermatologists recommend that people who suffer from excessive dry hands follow these rules of daily care:
Use a mild hand soap. Washing and sanitizing your hands with alcohol-based antibacterial and disinfectants can dry the skin, causing discomfort. This problem became especially acute during the pandemic, when sales of alcohol-based antiseptics increased hundreds of times. To get rid of the feeling of dryness and tightness of tissues, from the application of such products on the skin should be abandoned. To maintain hygiene, experts recommend giving preference to mild soaps that do not contain fragrances and aggressive chemical components.
Wash your hands with warm water. According to dermatologists, hot water completely washes away the lipid layer from the surface of the skin, which leads to moisture loss and exacerbates “dehydration. To avoid this, dry hands should be washed with barely warm water.
Wear gloves. If your occupation requires frequent hand washing or constant contact with liquids (hairdresser, cook, doctor) wear latex or vinyl gloves to protect your skin from water and harsh chemicals. The same rule should be observed when performing cleaning and washing dishes. For dry work, such as in the garden, use cloth gloves.
Apply hand cream to slightly damp skin. After washing, hands should be towel dry, leaving them slightly damp. Applying moisturizer to damp hands will have the maximum effect. The only disadvantage of this method of applying the cream is the creation of a favorable environment on the surface of tissues for the development of pathogenic flora. To avoid this, after applying the cream, it is advisable not to touch the hands to the surrounding objects and surfaces for 10-15 minutes (until the complete absorption of the cream).
Make lifestyle changes.By balancing your diet and drinking habits, you can eliminate nutritional and fluid deficiencies. It is also important to give up bad habits, get enough sleep and minimize stress factors.
If using moisturizers and following care recommendations doesn’t solve the problem of dry skin on your hands, don’t hesitate to visit a professional dermatologist.