Skin

3 Easy Ways to Avoid Dry and Cracked Hands All Winter Long

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If you’re like us, you’re constantly washing and sanitizing your hands to ward off cold and flu season germs. But all that cleansing dries out skin and nails, leading to irritating hand-related beauty arghs. Here are three fast and healing remedies for dry hands!

To Thwart Hangnails

Ouch! Dry, peeling cuticle skin is not only painful, it can make nails prone to infection—especially when we pick at it. To remove the skin safely, New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, recommends soaking nails in a bowl of warm milk (its lactic acid softens the hardened skin) for five minutes, then gently trimming the excess skin with sterilized cuticle scissors. Next, dab a glycerin-based ointment like Aquaphor Healing Ointment (Buy from Walgreens, $4.49) onto all nails twice a day. “It seals in moisture, preventing future hangnails.”

To Mend Raw, Cracked Skin

When hands become so dry that skin cracks and bleeds, Dr. Fusco advises using chia seed oil. The oil has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids that are proven to replenish moisture and strengthen skin’s outer layer, repairing dryness-induced cracks. “And its anti-inflammatory properties calm any irritation,” says Dr. Fusco. Get the benefits by rubbing a dime-size amount of chia seed oil like H&B Chia Seed Oil (Buy from Walmart.com, $10.28) onto hands before bed, then slip a pair of socks over hands to lock in hydration. Use nightly to see results in one week.

To Even Out Nail Ridges

Just like how the skin on the rest of our body wrinkles with age, so too does the skin underneath nails, resulting in uneven growth that forms into those pesky, vertical lines that make our once-smooth nails look and feel bumpy. And when nails are dry and brittle, these bumps can become even more apparent.

What can help: painting on a clear base coat polish that’s infused with silica. The mineral fills in ridges, leveling nails so they have a glass-like surface for an instantly smoother appearance. And one that also contains moisturizing vitamin E like Olive & June Ridge Filler (Buy from OliveAndJune.com, $14) creates a protective barrier over nails that wards off dehydration and brittleness. This helps improve nail health over time so ridges are less noticeable.

Note: Talk to your doctor if you notice horizontal ridges on more than one of your nails, as these can indicate an infection or another underlying health concern.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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