The top layer of your skin contains natural oils that keep it moisturized, supple and healthy. When the skin is robbed of these natural oils, it becomes dry, cracked and flaky. Dry, cracked hands are a common problem in the winter months when the air is cold and humidity is low, but you can develop cracked hands at any time of year. With a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can prevent dryness that leads to cracking.
Use warm water instead of hot water to wash your hands, shower or bathe. Hot water depletes the skin’s natural oils and can lead to dryness and cracking.
Choose a mild, moisturizing soap for hand-washing. Harsh soaps can dry the skin and lead to cracking.
Wear gloves when you perform tasks that require you to keep your hands in water for an extended period or when the weather is cold and windy. Washing dishes, cleaning and similar activities can dry the skin, and cold wind can also cause your skin to become dry and chapped.
Pat your hands dry after you wash them. Gentle patting is less likely to dry out and irritate the skin than rubbing with a towel.
Wash your hands with soap and water instead of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which can dry the hands. If you must use hand sanitizer, choose one that includes a moisturizer.
Keep skin moisturizer available and use it after you wash your hands and as needed to keep your skin hydrated. Thick moisturizers work best for dry skin.
Increase the humidity in your home. If your dry skin is severe or if you have dry skin on other areas of your body, use a humidifier in your home. A portable humidifier can increase the moisture in the air and hydrate your skin.
See your doctor if your dry skin does not respond to home treatment Dry, cracked skin is sometimes a symptom of another condition, such as psoriasis or eczema. See a doctor if signs of infection -- such as redness, warmth or drainage -- develop near a crack in your skin.