Dec 29, 2020
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The skin on the hands is dry and cracking: why is this happening and what to do?

Almost everyone faces skin irritation on the hands and the appearance of small cracks in winter, and during a pandemic, when we have to wash our hands more often and use alcohol-based antiseptics, this problem has become even more acute. People who adhere to strict diets and limit themselves in the consumption of meat, fish, oil are especially affected. Due to the lack of animal fats, the skin becomes dry and vulnerable to external irritants.

“Because women have more delicate and sensitive skin, it is easier and more damaged. But girls mainly take care of the skin of their hands, wear gloves and mittens that protect from the cold. But men mostly neglect creams and often go out into the street with their bare hands. Therefore, it is difficult to say who suffers more, ”a dermatologist, member of the International Society of Dermatologists (ISD), Ph.D. Natalia Gaidash.

Leather like sandpaper: reasons

The protective skin barrier is the thinnest hydro-lipid mantle, which consists of the secretion of sweat and sebaceous glands and dead particles of the stratum corneum. This gown retains not only moisture, but also the normal microflora of the skin. The symbiont bacteria feed on the lipid substrate and create an environment that prevents pathogens from colonizing the skin. If the hydro-lipid mantle is destroyed, the skin of the hands begins to suffer from dryness.

When we wash our hands, treat them with soap, use hot, hard and chlorinated water, we partially wash off the hydro-lipid mantle of the skin. Alcohol-containing antiseptics also dissolve the protective lipid substance of the epidermis and, together with viruses and bacteria, kill beneficial symbiont bacteria necessary for the normal state of the skin. Dry indoor air and other aggressive factors only aggravate the problem: the skin is extremely easily injured and chapped. As a result, it begins to crack, peel off strongly and itch.

“The influence of internal factors cannot be ruled out: everything is reflected on the skin – hormones, the state of the body, inaccuracies in nutrition, deficiency in water consumption, vitamins, and microelements. In winter, traditionally, many people experience hypovitaminosis, including a lack of vitamin D, which can exacerbate skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, ”said Natalia Gaidash.

Natalia Gaidash, d.Leningrad Society of Dermatologists (ISD), Ph.D.

Masks, creams, oils – how to treat cracked skin

In most cases, you can solve this problem on your own without resorting to the help of a doctor.

“Buy cotton gloves and make hand masks daily. Apply a thick layer of cream to your hands, preferably with olive oil, cocoa or shea oil, put on gloves and wear them as long as possible, and preferably go to bed. In the morning, remove the remaining cream by gently blotting the skin with a napkin, ”the doctor advises.

If the skin is cracked to blood (knuckles are most often affected), then first of all it is necessary to soften the skin of the hands and create conditions for early healing. At home, thick-textured products such as natural cocoa butter, beeswax or paraffin hand cream can help. It is necessary to apply these products after each hand washing or disinfection. Pay attention to the quality of your household towels and do not use a hard cloth to dry damaged skin.

But if the problem is not solved, and the cracks not only do not heal, but also become inflamed, then in this case it is necessary to consult a dermatologist. Do not self-medicate or prescribe serious dermatological medications. Unfortunately, many people independently use hormonal external agents, notes Natalia Gaidash. Without the supervision of a doctor, this can lead to the fact that the skin begins to rapidly atrophy: it becomes thinner, covered with wrinkles, and will lose its resource for recovery. And it will be difficult even for a doctor to cope with this.

No more cracks: prevention

To avoid these problems, it is enough to constantly use nourishing hand cream. Carry the cream in your purse, keep it at your workplace. It is good if the composition includes natural beeswax, olive oil, cocoa, shea. The product should be applied approximately 30-40 minutes before going outside, the product should be absorbed.

Please note that the cream should not contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid in winter. Glycerin cannot absorb moisture from the air in winter. Since the air in heated rooms is very dry, glycerin will draw moisture from deep layers of the skin. Hyaluronic acid can give the effect of “snow crust” in the cold, that is, freeze and damage the skin even more, “the doctor said. A hyaluronic acid moisturizer for hands in winter should only be used if you don’t plan on going outside, for example. as an evening hand care. Dry and irritated skin will react painfully to the use of a cream that contains many alcohols, parabens, preservatives and fragrances.

It is also worth very carefully using rubber gloves in winter, which are recommended to be worn in public places during a pandemic. They can be worn in the store and other public places, but under no circumstances should they be worn outside or on public transport. Hands will sweat, becoming wet – freezing and even more injured. Therefore, on the street, wear protective gloves against cold and wind, and when entering the room, you can already use rubber gloves.

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