What causes dry hands

So as most of us are aware, you can have mildly dry skin on your hands all the way to scaly, cracked, chapped, sore, itchy, irritated and even bleeding as a result of dry skin. Like most of us, I have experienced all of these symptoms at some stage, dependant on where I am and what I am doing, to the point I’ve found it hard to concentrate because the skin on my hands has been so itchy and irritated (not sexy, but true).   

There's a lot of things that can cause dry hands and sometimes it can be to do with things that we cannot necessarily manage at home, including genetics, ageing and medical conditions. If you are worried about dry hands it is best to consult your doctor first to make sure you're getting the right kind of treatment.

However lifestyle, our work, where we live and the products we use can also have a big impact on dry hands. Here are some things that can contribute to the cause of dry hands:


Can play a huge part in dry skin, sports like climbing can leave calluses (hard lumps of skin), flappers and scrapes not to mention seriously dry, rough hands from using chalk and being in constant contact with rock. This is also true of sports such as cross-training, where you are constantly gripping and lifting objects. Occupations such as building, joinery, gardening (pretty much any job that involves hard working hands, in either dusty or cold conditions (even worse, both) can also lead to dry, rough hands.

Cold Weather Conditions

“Dry skin is especially common in the winter months when the humidity level outside drops. When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly; this makes your skin feel dry and tight, and makes it look flaky. In fact, your skin loses more than 25 percent of its ability to hold moisture in the winter. Windy weather (especially if you enjoy winter sports) can also beat down on your skin and make it look and feel dry and chapped. Some of my patients refer to this condition as "winter skin.”*

*Dr Jessica Wu Everyday Health.Com 2021

Not only this, but after a hard days work, ride or hike out in the cold, we come home and switch the heating on which can also contribute to dry skin.

Soap and Excess Washing

Soap is designed to get you clean, but sometimes as it’s doing it’s job by stripping away the dirt, it’s also stripping away your skins natural oils, which protects your skin from losing too much water.

As a result of the global pandemic, we’re all (or should be) washing our hands a lot more with things like alcohol gels, which are great at killing bacteria, but bad for drying our skin out. Constantly washing hands is hell for dry skin (especially for those with occupations that demand squeaky clean hands). To help reduce dry and irritated skin on hands, where possible switch from alcohol gels to hand soap - and make sure the hand soap is a moisturising one which is fragrance free.

Also, try switching from washing your hands with hot water to warm water as well as trying to blot your hands dry instead of rubbing them.

And keep an Intensive Hand Cream on you, and apply it after you’ve washed your hands and just before bed… we can recommend a good one :)

Intensive Hand Cream

Fragrance in skincare and soaps

Fragrance, or ‘added smell’ is essentially perfume, and a lot of skincare companies add fragrance to their products.

When fragrance is added to skincare products it is there to simply smell nice and likely not to have any benefits for the skin, not only this, but often those fragrances can contain chemicals which can irritate the skin. If you suffer from dry hands or sensitive skin it is best to look for fragrance free skincare products.

All Helm Wind Outdoor Skincare products are fragrance free.

A lot of the time we do get feedback on ‘how nice it smells’ but be rest assured, that is just the natural scent of the Shea Butter, Apricot Kernel Oil or Mango Butter (dependant on which ingredient you can smell in our product), all of which are natural and never ever perfumed.

The solution

Protect your skin from the cold by wearing gloves. When you put the heating on, try not to have it too hot. Wash your hands with warm water instead of hot and blot your hands instead of rubbing them. Choose unscented hand moisturisers suitable for sensitive skin like our Intensive Hand Cream which has been formulated with:

Shea Butter | has a high concentration of vitamins and fatty acids including Vitamin A and E, linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. When Shea Butter is applied directly to the skin these are rapidly absorbed into the skin and help to restore lipids and the barrier between the skin and the outside environment, whilst holding in moisture.

Apricot Kernel Oil | is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B17, and E can help to soothe itching, soreness, inflammation and dryness.

Mango Butter | rich in antioxidants is highly moisturising and absorbs well into the skin. Mango Butter has a light, non-greasy texture, great for hardworking hands.

Vitamin E | is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the skin.

Specifically for those who use their hands in an active outdoor lifestyle.