You may notice that with increased hand washing your hands are more dry and chapped. We use our hands daily for so many things and rarely give them the care they need. Taking care of your hands is important in maintaining the skin barrier function. Here is a step by step guide for taking care of your hands.
Use a hand crafted soap or a hand cleanser such as Clear Creek Hand/Body wash. Hand crafted soaps such as these are typically superfatted so that they contain extra oils to act as an emollient and keep hands from drying out. You can also use a hand cleanser such as Clear Creek hand and body wash. Here are CDC guidelines for handwashing.
Deal with calluses
If you use your hands a lot you may have developed calluses. Calluses are not bad, they protect your skin. But they can also get dry and crack causing your skin to bleed. To treat a callus you can first soak your hand in warm water. Then use a pumice stone or a sugar scrub to remove some of the toughened skin. You don’t want the callus to be raised above the level of your skin, rub until it is level with your skin. Keep your calluses moisturized so that they are pliable and bend when you move. This can help keep them from ripping.
Hangnails are those torn pieces of skin that occur next to your nails. Or cuticles. They are not part of your nails though. They are caused by dry skin and hand washing. Clip off your hangnails with a good clipper. Do not tear or bite them as this can worsen them and lead to infection.
File your nails
Use a nail file to smooth out rough nails and shape the nails. You don’t want rough nails to snag on anything.
Apply a moisturizer
I like to first apply a cuticle cream/balm such as Knuckle Balm to all hangnails, split skin, cuticles and dry/chapped knuckles. This is for spot treatment. Then apply a good quality moisturizer. Mountain Mist lotion contains green tea extract, calendula extract and blue spruce extract. The antioxidants help damaged skin. Cocoa butter, rice bran oil, and avocado oil add emolliency. It is a soft, silky lotion, not greasy.
If you want a heavier product, Dream Lake Body Butter is a heavier, richer cream that you can use all over and is especially nice for the hands. I like to use it before going to bed. It contains capuacu butter, shea butter and antioxidant rich herbs.
Many people who work or play outside ask me about age spots on their hands that are caused by the sun. This is known as hyperpigmentation. There is no reason that you cannot use a mask intended for your face on your hands.
Starbright Mask contains alpha hydroxy acids for exfoliation, hydrators, and ingredients to reduce hyperpigmentation. For your face, I recommend leaving it on for 10 minutes and washing off (it may be slightly irritating). But for your hands, with less sensitive skin, you could put it directly on dark spots and leave it there without washing off.
Being a farmer, I do not use nail polish or get manicures. But I do sometimes use a clear coat to keep my nails cleaner and to keep dirt from setting into the nail. I also rub oil or Knuckle Balm into the nails to keep them from getting brittle.
Wearing gloves is a good idea. Wear warm gloves in the winter and thin ones in the summer. It’s something proper ladies used to do, and now with COVID, maybe it’s not a bad idea again. They provide a layer of protection from the weather. Also wear gloves when you are gardening.
In closing, I love this quote by Audrey Hepburn and urge you to both help others and help yourself.
You have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others. -Audrey Hepburn