Educational Blog Series: How do you prevent dry, cracked and inflamed skin on your hands?

by | 11 April 2022

As we make our way into the cooler months, now more than ever, we should focus on the repair and replenishment of one of the hardest working and most neglected parts of the body – our hands! Dry, cracked, chapped and often uncomfortable, the skin on the hands can be affected by many factors from genetic to environmental factors. Compared to other areas of the body, the hands see more exposure to water, irritants and the elements so they need regular protection. Let’s explore some of the common factors along with the solutions for dry skin conditions on the hands.

How well your hands can withstand the constant onslaught of environmental factors has a direct link to the strength and integrity of the skins first three lines of barrier defence. These lines of barrier defence are created by a complex mix of proteins, lipids and other secretions all formed via the process of differentiation (cell turnover). As epidermal cells migrate towards the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin), they undergo a series of changes and adaptations, which result in the formation of a cornified cell envelope (CCE), multi lamellar lipid structure along with the skins Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) each of which are integral to a well functioning and healthy skin barrier. A well functioning barrier will help to maintain water balance within the skin, provide waterproofing and protection resulting in a skin that does exactly what it is intended to do – protect us!

So what happens when this process goes wrong? We see challenges with atopic skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis. These conditions can be amplified with seasonal changes and throughout the cooler months and may be due to genetics factors.

Genetic factors – Filaggrin gene deficiency


Filaggrin is an important structural protein molecule that plays an essential role in skin hydration and the formation of a competent skin barrier. Largely responsible for how well the skin retains moisture, filaggrin or the lack thereof, will determine components of skin health and function. Quite often we forget that a filaggrin gene deficiency effects all areas of the body, not just the face. After all, the skin is the largest organ of the body and therefore must be treated as a whole!

Those with atopic and eczema-prone skin may have a filaggrin gene deficiency resulting in a skin that is unable to maintain adequate amounts of water (visualise a dry river bed). This lack of water can lead to an impaired barrier (cracked and chapped skin) resulting in a vulnerable skin that is prone to impaired enzyme activity (dehydration) and sensitivity. Visually, the skin may look cracked, dry, flaky and physically, the skin can be painful.

The solution? Incorporate formulations that are designed to repair the first lines of skin barrier defence whilst providing the building blocks to create competent barrier formation.

Environmental factors – Hand washing and other household products


One environmental factor contributing to dry skin on the hands, is directly associated to the use of common emulsifiers within hand wash products, shampoos, detergents and other household products – products that we might have interactions with several times throughout the day. No wonder your hands are feeling tight and dry!

Emulsifiers are found in many household products and are designed to allow oil and water to mix within a formulation however, it has been shown that emulsifiers also lead to the ‘washout effect’ whereby the emulsifier contained within a formulation dissolves skin barrier lipids which are designed to provide protection and water proofing for your skin, and lead to increased water loss. This in turn can lead to dry and cracked hands and in some cases, trigger the atopic skin resulting in increased ‘flares’ in eczema and dermatitis.

Look out for Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) which is one of the main culprits! This conventional emulsifier is commonly used in many personal care and household products and one that you might not be aware of having interactions with on a daily basis. When used in hand wash products, shampoos and other household products, SLS can lead to the ‘washout’ effect further triggering barrier disordered skin.

Now it’s not just hand wash products that we need to be aware of. Unfortunately, emulsifiers along with other harsh ingredients may also be lurking in your hand cream! Fragrances and perfumes, preservatives and colours may also be triggering sensitivities on the hands. Look for a hand cream product that is free from common sensitising agents and incorporate the use of a corneotherapeutic formulation designed to work with the skin and not against it.

So what can you do to prevent dry , cracked and inflamed skin on the hands?


Remember to protect your hands while you’re protecting your health with frequent hand washing – look for a hand wash product that is free from common emulsifiers, choose warm water over hot water and ensure to moisturise your immediately after washing. We have some top picks to share with you to support your hand health not only as the seasons changes, but throughout the whole year…

Total Cleansing Cream


  • dermaviduals Total Cleansing Cream does not contain common emulsifiers or preservatives both of which may lead to sensitivities within the skin.
  • The cream contains gentle sugar tensides (foaming agent) to cleanse the skin without stripping or drying.
  • It can be used as a hand wash, face wash and shampoo – a true multi-functioning product!
  • We recommend swapping out your regular hand wash and adding the Total Cleansing Cream to your daily hand cleansing routine.



DMS Hand Cream


  • dermaviduals DMS Hand Cream is free of common emulsifiers and is created in a base of triglycerides, phosphatidylcholine, shea butter, ceramides and squalane.
  • It is a rich, nourishing cream with a non-greasy formula that does not leave a residue on the skin.
  • The cream is also free from common emulsifiers which may lead to the washout effect.
  • Specifically designed to protect hands from environmental influences and chapping.
  • It can be used several times throughout the day and recommended to be applied immediately after hand washing to replenish and further protect the skin.



Oleogel Plus


  • Recommended for extremely dry and chapped skin on the hands.
  • Containing avocado oil which is an excellent source of skin-replenishing fatty acids, including omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acid.
  • The formula also contains Vitamin E and Vitamin C for antioxidant and smoothing benefits along with other skin protecting oils to provide nourishment.
  • Oleogel is the perfect solution for those with excessively dry hands and can be used in conjunction with our DMS Hand Cream.



Next time you reach for your hand cream, ensure that you are using dermaviduals DMS Hand Cream to replenish and repair the skin during the cooler months. To find out more, visit your closest dermaviduals skin clinic, which you can locate using our ‘Clinic Finder’ here.