Ask Ellbee ~ Dry Hands

Dear Ellbee,

It’s already starting:  My hands are so dry they’re cracking open.

I go through this every fall and winter.  It actually hurts.

I try to keep them moisturized with lotion; but it doesn’t seem to matter. Got any fixes?


Dear Dawn,

I’m so sorry to hear this.
I know firsthand how painful cracked hands can be.
But I do think I can help.

Let’s consider some day-to-day modifications you can implement to improve your general hydration:

Drink plenty of water.  Eight 8-ounce glasses a day should help hydrate from within.

Limit your use of drying hand sanitizers.  The alcohol content in these products don’t just add to the dry skin problem; they often create it.

Use soaps that are free of sodium lauryl sulfates (*SLS’s).  SLS’s, the foaming agent added to most personal hygiene and cleaning products, are quite drying and compromise the skin’s natural ability to heal and protect itself.

Opt for a bath instead of a shower.  This gives skin time to absorb moisture.

Decrease the temperature of your bathwater.  Excessively hot water will open pores; when pores are open, you LOSE moisture.  Also, hot water encourages the release of histamines, which can make you feel itchy.

Do not add oil to your bath.  Oils will stick to your skin and create a barrier, preventing the natural absorption of water.

Seal in moisture.  After your bath, use a fresh towel to pat your skin dry and apply a rich moisturizer.  Now is the time to create a good barrier, locking in the moisture you just soaked up.

Avoid “rough labor.”  When hands are particularly red and sore, give them a break.

Use gloves whenever possible for household “wet work.”  When not possible, combine wet tasks, then rinse and dry hands thoroughly.

Avoid excessive handling of paper and paper products.  Dry goods can leach moisture right out of fingertips.

Here are two specific treatments you can try to heal hands:

Overnight Overhaul  

Just before bedtime, coat hands with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.

Pull on a pair of cotton gloves and allow them to recover from the day while you sleep. 

This also works wonders on dry, cracked feet (of course, you’ll want to use socks).


Sugar Scrub

Sugar your hands twice a week.  

Mix a dime-size amount of Vaseline™, ½ teaspoon of sugar (a fine grain sugar is best) and two good “pumps” of your favorite non-drying hand soap. 

Wet hands with warm water. 

Use mixture to wash hands, gently massaging hands with small, circular motions. 

Rinse well and pat dry.

Ellbee recommends these SLS-free soaps: Clearly Natural Glycerine Hand Soap in Tea Tree, All About Hands Luxurious Hand Soap in Avocado and Burt’s Bees Liquid Hand Soaps.



If hands are not greatly improved in two weeks’ time, it’s time to see a dermatologist.

Hope you are soon on the mend!


*SLS’s can be listed as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate and DEA lauryl sulfate.



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  1. Malokia Steele-Cooper says

    Another reason to avoid Sulfates! I’ve alreaded switched to Sulfate-free hair products & seen & feel the difference!

a peep out of you