Cold weather is here, and you know what that means. It’s time to break out our boots and heavy coats and favourite scarves for cold-weather activities. This year, most people will be meeting and socialising outdoors, gathering around firepits while the kids sled down the nearest icy slope. You might go on a holiday camping trip, or just take excellent walks in the chilly air.
Of course, cold weather also means dry skin with chapped cheeks, lips and hands. When we’re not catching a cold breeze outdoors, we’re inside where heaters and fireplaces dry out the air so our skin never catches a break. If you’re like many of us, dry hands are a serious risk in the winter time, especially with the necessity to wash and sanitise constantly, which also dries out your skin.
Let’s dive into the cold-weather activities that cause dry hands and a few smart ways to prevent hand chapping this year.
Cold-Weather Activities that Dry Out Your Hands
- Doing Outdoor Yard Work
- Raking leaves can last all year in some climates, or it can quickly transform into shoveling the walk, driveway, and/or parking spot daily. All that time with tools in-hand not only exposes your hands to the frigid air, the friction also rubs at your dry skin.
- Constant Handwashing
- This year is a big one for hand-washing. Soap and water are the most thorough, but every wash strips oils from your hands which causes them to dry out.
- Making Snowmen and Snowball Fights
- There’s nothing quite like spontaneously sneaking a snowball on a friend or working together to stack a snowman in the garden. But touching snow is very cold. It saps the moisture from your hands and, if you’re not careful, can also cause mild cold burns.
- Staying in the Heater-Dried Indoors
- Even staying inside can dry out your hands. Running a heater, furnace, or stoking the fireplace all take moisture out of the air, and away from your skin. This is why even non-outdoorsy people experience dry skin in the winter.
- Winter Cleaning with Harsh Chemicals
- If you like to get some deep cleaning done while the house is closed up, or preparing for relatives, this can also be hard on your hands. Watch out for harsh cleaners that can strip away oils and cause chapping from even mild chemical exposure.
How to Keep Your Hands Safe During the Winter
Wear Gloves Outdoors
When you’re raking leaves, shoveling snow, or outdoors playing, always wear gloves. Find a sturdy pair of winter work gloves that have a protected palm for gripping, insulation, and moisture-resistance so snow doesn’t soak them. This will keep your hands safe from snow, wind, and friction exposure in cold weather.
Dry Your Hands Immediately if They Get Wet
If your hands get wet playing or working in icy weather, dry them immediately. Don’t let ice crystals form on your skin, as this is a very drying molecular reaction and a good way to get cracked hands. Dry hands can stay warm, wet hands form ice and get very cold. If any of you gets wet in the winter, dry immediately or go inside where it’s warm.
Use Moisturiser and Moisturising Sanitiser
Carry moisturiser with you and apply it to your hands after every time you wash or sanitise. Washing is necessary, but it strips oils from your hands. Moisturisers and oils provide both moisture and a layer of protection against cold wind. The most efficient solution is a moisturising sanitiser with a high alcohol content, but also a serum of oils and vitamins to re-nourish your hands. Combined, you can prevent chapping and keep clean in the same motion.
Wear Rubber Gloves When Cleaning
When working with cleaning chemicals, wear protective gloves. You can wear heavy rubber gloves or disposable surgical gloves, whichever works best for you. Simply minimise chemical exposure to your hands.
Run a Humidifier at Home
When the heater takes moisture out of the air, you can put it back in. A humidifier evaporates water into the air, increasing the humidity level inside your home. When the air is very dry, a humidifier is good for both your skin and your lungs. You may find your hands stop chapping and you breathe better at the same time.
Exfoliate and Re-Moisturise Your Hands
If your hands have become very dry, it can help to exfoliate them before your next use of moisturiser, or sanitiser for that matter. Use a gentle scrub, dry brush, or wet luffa to gently take the dry skin from the outside of your hands and any other chapped areas. Then apply protective moisturiser.
Apply Lotion or Oil Before Bed
If you’re having trouble keeping your skin hydrated, try applying lotion or a nourishing body oil before bed. Put on a soft cotton shirt or pajamas over and go to sleep. You won’t be awake to feel oily and your skin will be much softer when you shower off the oil in the morning. Re-apply a layer of daytime lotion after your morning shower to protect your skin from the winter wind and dry air.
If your hands tend to crack in the winter, you’re not alone. Dry hands have always been a problem during the winter months and it’s important to protect them, especially with all the hand-washing we’ll be doing. Pocket a mini-moisturiser bottle and wear good gloves for rough and outdoor tasks. Keeping your hands moisturised is tough this season unless you have the right supplies.