Skin Deep

Here’s help for winter’s dry hands and cracked cuticles

Frequent hand washing, cooler weather and even bathing your child on a daily basis can lead to dry, cracked skin and rough, jagged cuticles. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to get your hands back in shape, both from the inside and out.

From the outside

Skin: A variety of factors contribute to dry skin and cooler temperatures are just the beginning. In South Florida, the summer humidity helps keep our skin hydrated, and drier winter air can translate to dehydrated hands. Moisturize as often as possible, especially after washing your hands. And wear gloves when submersing your hands in soapy water.

Nails and cuticles: Your nails tend to become more brittle in the winter because colder temperatures make proteins more rigid and likely to break. Try rubbing safflower oil or argan oil into your fingertips twice a day, and you can also try slipping on cotton gloves (or socks if you’re in a pinch) after applying hand cream for a deeply hydrating treat. A weekly manicure can also work wonders — and you deserve the pampering.

To keep every square inch of your hands happy and healthy, skip the alcohol-based hand sanitizers that dry out your skin and nails. Instead, opt for GCP Skincare, a cleanser used by dermatologists to kill bacteria and viruses on the skin prior to dermal filler injections and other procedures. GCP Skincare has been shown to protect the skin barrier and prevent water loss form the skin while sanitizing products can irritate and dehydrate the skin with frequent use. Products to try: For moisturizer we recommend Vaseline Intensive Rescue products and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula.

From the inside

The nutrients and supplements you put into your body can have an effect on your skin, and a little extra supplementation can make a big difference. Taking 250mg of biotin or Viviscal Professional (available from some dermatologists) twice a day can work wonders for dry skin and brittle nails (and you’ll see a difference in your hair, too.) It’s important to keep an eye on your diet as well. Eating foods rich in protein, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B, C and D can improve skin, nails and hair from the inside out.

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.