Dry, Chapped Hands: a winter itch

Dry, Chapped Hands: a winter itchChapped hands are a result of very dry skin, occurring as a result of reduced moisture, or water, content of the skin. The surface of the skin holds a certain amount of water. When the water content decreases, the skin becomes dry, itchy, and uncomfortable.

Most of us have our pet peeves about our hands. Some have dry coarse hands; others have cold clammy hands. Some have soft thin delicate hands where the skin tears easily. A little knowledge would help you to exposed to minor cuts, burns and bruises in the kitchen or while doing chores.

Symptoms of Dry, Chapped Hands:

Hands that are chapped usually have the following characteristics:

  • Roughness

  • Dryness

  • Redness

  • Peeling

  • Cracking

  • Sensitivity

  • Tenderness

Causes and risks Factors:

  • Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to dry skin. Their skin tends to become drier, with age.

  • Dry air, resulting from winter's low humidity and the use of indoor heat, can cause skin to dry out.

  • Long, hot baths and showers can also make skin dry.

Factors that increase a person's risk of chapped hands include the following:

  • Dry, Chapped Hands: a winter itchFrequent hand washing, which may be associated with the person's job

  • Prolonged exposure to cold, dry weather

  • Sunburn or windburn

  • Allergic reactions to skin care products

  • History of a skin disorder, such as eczema

If chapped hands are left untreated, the person may have -difficulty doing things without wearing protective gloves,
recurrent skin conditions such as outbreaks of eczema or skin inflammation,
infections, which may occur when bacteria enter cracks in the skin

Here are some household tips to rectify the problem.

  • Sugar and oil:
    Take 3 tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoons of oil (any oil, vegetable oils, olive oil or almond oil will do). Mix the sugar and oil, beat to a blended consistency. Rub into the hands. Keep rubbing for 5 -7 minutes, then rinse well with warm water. The dead coarse skin is removed and the hands appear soft and clean.

  • Sugar and Lime: Take one tablespoon lemon juice, one tablespoon sugar, one tablespoon water. Lightly mix all these ingredients and rub all over the hands. Keep rubbing it in till it starts to dry. Rinse with water. Softens coarse hands.

  • Honey Lemon Juice and Oil: Take one-teaspoon oil (any oil, vegetable oils, olive oil or almond oil will do), one teaspoon lemon juice, one tablespoon rose water. Mix well together. Rub over crusty elbows, knuckles and other hardened areas. Keep rubbing it in, then after 5 - 7 minutes rinse off. This not only nourishes the skin, but also keeps it soft.

  • Lemon Juice and Barely Powder: Take one tablespoon barley powder, one tablespoon lime juice. In case barley powder is not available, boil barley for 10 minutes. Extract the juice and mix it with lime juice. Apply on the finger joints to get rid of dark circles. Rub well into the skin. Leave it to dry and then apply and rub again. After it has dried, then rinse off. Softens and whitens the knuckles.

  • Potato Juice:
    Take two potatoes, peel and grate them. Extract juice of these potatoes. Apply all over the hands, especially over the knuckles and finger joints. The potato juice can also be applied over scars left by wounds, cuts or burns. If used regularly, it helps to eliminate these scars and lightens dark areas around the knuckles and finger joints.

  • Onion Juice:
    You can relieve minor kitchen burns on the hand just by rubbing a raw onion on the burn. Take an onion, cut it into half and rub on the burned area. It immediately reduces inflammation and relieves pain.

  • Dry, Chapped Hands: a winter itchCold Milk: Did you know that blisters on the hands while cooking, can be cured with a cold milk compress if applied immediately? Put some cold milk on the blister; dab it two or three times on the blisters. It soothes immediately and actually aids healing.

  • Turmeric Powder:
    So often hands get minor cuts while chopping vegetables or while performing other household chores. In cutting your fingers or hands, immediately apply turmeric powder onto the wound. It stops bleeding and aids healing.

  • Gelatin: For those people who have split nails and cracked hands, a good 'soak' in gelatin will certainly help. Take a packet of gelatin or lemon jelly, pour it into a cup of hot water. Make a packet of gelatin or lemon jelly, pour it into a cup of hot water. Make a paste and put it to set. When it has set, soak the hands in this jelly, keep rubbing the nails and cuticles as well as the hands. Keep them soaked for at least 15 minutes. A regular use of this treatment prevents cracks on the skin of the fingers and the cracking and splitting of fingernails. Eating jelly also helps promote a healthy growth of nails.

  • Buttermilk and Almond Oil: Take one tablespoon almond oil and one cup buttermilk. Mix well, apply on the hands. Massage well, let it dry, then apply again. Repeat this till all the solution is used up. Use this at night, before bedtime. Wear cotton gloves and sleep. Next morning, rinse well. This treatment ensures that the hands remain soft and maintain a good skin texture.

What can be done to prevent the symptom?

Women subject to dry skin should soak thoroughly while bathing or showering. However, they should limit the amount of soap they use and the length of time they're exposed to the water. Some, may be able to use mild, moisturizing soap all over the body. A few need to limit soap use to the underarms and genitalia.

For mildly dry hands, almost any lubricant will provide sufficient relief. For greater dryness, moisturizers with humectants such as glycerin (10 per cent) sorbitol, urea, alpha-hydroxy acids (four to eight per cent) are best. For very dry hands, products rich in petroleum jelly will likely provide the most relief.

After patting the hands dry with a towel, apply a moisturizer. Moisturizers coat the skin with oil, block evaporation of the skin's natural moisture and trap water in its surface. While they can't cure dry skin, moisturizes provide protection, relieve the dry, itchy feeling and reduce the tendency to crack. Although most of the water in the cream or moisturizer evaporates, the oil stays on as a lubricant, enabling the skin to retain moisture.

There are two types of moisturizers are available over-the-counter:

  • Dry, Chapped Hands: a winter itchCosmetic moisturizers, which provide immediate relief of dry skin but last only while they are applied to the skin. For people with a mild case of dry skin, a cosmetic moisturizer is enough to keep the skin from feeling dry.

  • Therapeutic moisturizers, which have demonstrated the ability to act as a barrier that keeps water from evaporating from the skin. Many therapeutic moisturizers contain mineral oil or petroleum.

The best way to avoid chapped hands is to keep them well dried, protected from the cold and wind, to wear cotton-lined vinyl gloves for wet work (rubber can cause allergies) and frequently apply hand creams to moist skin. If the problem persists, consult a dermatologist, who may prescribe creams containing alpha hydroxy acids or urea to get rid of dead skin and minimize itching.


Dated 04  November 2013


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