How to care for dry, flaky winter hands

Jan. 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Couple the Valley's cooler, drier air with all the extra hand-washing you're doing to avoid colds and flu, and you may be hiding your flaky, cracked hands in embarrassment this winter.

Hands (and feet) lack the oil glands present on other skin surfaces, so they suffer the most when exposed to cold and dry air. The oil glands help skin elsewhere on the body retain moisture.

Cosmetic dermatologist Eliot F. Battle Jr., speaking for Flexitol skin-care products, suggests patting your hands not quite dry after washing, then applying a moisturizer to hold in the water.. advertisement

Wear vinyl gloves while working around the house to minimize contact with water, soaps and solvents, he says. In other situations, use gloves and socks made of cotton. Cotton helps the skin retain its natural fluids and absorbs perspiration that can cause drying.

Battle says exfoliating patches of dry skin as soon as they appear can prevent the skin from breaking down and cracking.

- Connie Midey

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