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Wintertime relief for chapped hands


Winter can be rough on your skin, especially your hands. They may feel soft and supple in the fall, but by January they can be red and raw.

The reason? Cold, dry air saps the moisture out of your skin. And to stop the spread of seasonal cold and flu germs, you should be washing your hands often during the winter. That can dry them out even more.

Sandpaper hands? Do try this at home

Try these tips to sooth chapped hands and keep them soft:

Go gentle. Opt for unscented, chemical-free soaps and cleansers when possible, especially if you have sensitive skin. And look for cleansers with added moisturizers.

Blot dry. It’s best not to rub your hands dry. Instead, gently blot them with a hand towel or use an air dryer.

Moisturize and repeat. Creams are thicker and more effective than water-based lotions. Apply hand cream several times a day, especially after washing your hands.

Tend trouble spots. For extra relief, dab some petroleum jelly on rough areas before bed.

Say no to dishpan hands. For everyday chores involving water, get a pair of waterproof gloves. Wear them when you do the dishes, wash the car or do other water-based jobs.

Be ready for weather. Always wear warm gloves when you go out in the cold. Stash an extra set in the car or at work in case you forget on the way out the door.

Drink plenty of water. This helps replace the moisture that the dry winter air strips from your skin. Running a humidifier can help too.

Don’t flame out. Skip the cozy fireside—or enjoy it from a distance. Warming your hands by a fire or heater can dry them out.

Handwashing 101

One tip you won’t see on our list? Doing a quick-dip hand wash. That’s because washing your hands regularly and well is a key way to stop the spread of cold and flu germs.

So don’t skimp. Here’s the best way to wash your hands—every time:

  • Wet them under warm or cool running water.
  • Apply soap and lather up. Be sure to wash the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds. (That’s about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.)
  • Rinse your hands until they’re clean.
  • Pat dry with a towel or air dry.

If you don’t have soap or running water available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Look for one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. But keep in mind: Alcohol can dry out your hands too, so opt for soap and water when it’s available.

What about rosacea?

This common skin condition can flare up in winter. Learn seven triggers to watch out for and some simple ways to avoid them.