If you’re like most, you’ve been doing some crazy handwashing lately—and topping it off with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer—to keep germs at bay. This kind of frequent hand washing (remember to count to 20, or try these handwashing songs), while a reliable way to ward off illness, can lead to dry, chapped skin, according to dermatologists.
Practicing good hand hygiene kills germs, but it also strips away your skin’s natural oils. And for those who experience cold, dry weather, it can be a double whammy. As a result, your hands are probably raw, cracked, and screaming for help. So what can you do? We have a few easy, natural solutions.
First, A Few Hand-Washing Tips
- When heading to the sink, stick to natural, fragrance-free (or lightly fragranced) soaps. You can also try using liquid Castile soap to wash with. Add a squirt to a pump dispenser and fill the rest with water. You can also add a few drops of germ-fighting tea tree oil, and fractionated coconut oil, or “liquid coconut oil,” to help keep your hands smooth.
- Choose soaps that have added natural moisturizers to them, such as this one.
- Pat your hands lightly with a towel rather than rubbing them dry.
- Follow with fragrance-free hand cream (rather than a body lotion), preferably one that contains shea butter or other natural oils, or use any of the oils mentioned below, while hands are still slightly damp to seal in moisture.
Natural Healing Relief
Over the years, the Farmers’ Almanac has shared many home remedies for soft, healthy skin. We know people look to us to find healthy solutions so we dug into our archives for our favorite skin softening remedies.
Coconut Oil. You probably have a jar of coconut oil in your kitchen cabinet for cooking, but it’s an exceptional moisturizer for your skin, as well. Coconut oil has been shown to heal flaking, cracked skin, and help treat eczema, psoriasis, and other chronic conditions, so it’s the perfect remedy for raw hands. Slather on your hands before bed, cover with clean cotton socks or gloves, and let it work its magic while you sleep.
Olive Oil. Try making a healing olive oil skin salve using this method.
Avocado Oil is very penetrative and is believed to reach the dermal layer of skin, which most moisturizers and oils are unable to do. The omega 3s and vitamin E found in avocado oil also make it a great choice for treating your raw hands as well as other skin irritations, such as eczema, psoriasis, cracked heels, and even insect bites and stings. Apply a thin layer of avocado oil to your hands after washing and patting dry, and massage in. The high protein levels found in avocado oil combined with its amino acids make this oil excellent for tissue regeneration and cell renewal.
Go Bananas! The vitamin A in bananas restores, moisturizes, and repairs dry skin. Mash a ripe banana with a fork and apply it as a thick coat on the affected area. Leave for 15-20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Pat dry.
Potatoes – Grate 1 or 2 small potatoes and soak them in olive oil for twenty minutes. Place the potato/oil mixture on your dry hands, and leave it on for at least 10 minutes, then rinse. Pat dry.
Other Tricks To Save Your Hands
- Wear kitchen gloves when doing dishes by hand.
- If you don’t have kitchen gloves, try adding 1-3 tablespoons of baking soda to your dishwater when you do dishes. It makes the soapy water less harsh on your skin.
- Continue nourishing your skin by eating a well-balanced diet including Vitamin E rich foods, such as asparagus, spinach, eggs, blueberries, almonds, avocados, and whole grains.