The hands are, along with the face, the areas that are most damaged by the low temperatures of autumn and winter. We can protect them by wearing gloves or ‘putting them away’ in our pockets, but these gestures are often insufficient to prevent them from drying out and even cracking in the most extreme cases.
However, it is essential to take care of our hands throughout the year, not only during these cold seasons. In this sense, Dr. Lola Bou Camps, a dermatologist from the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venerology (AEDV), begins by advising us on how to take care of our hands throughout the year:
“In addition to the usual daily essential care – cleaning, moisturizing, revitalizing and photo protection – there are times of the year when it would be advisable to prepare the skin more thoroughly, in winter you have to protect yourself from the cold and the consequent dryness, so we insist on deeply moisturizing the skin of the face, neck and neckline in the morning and at night, using creams of greater consistency than in the rest of the year”, she stresses.
He also warns that those people with very sensitive skin to temperature changes, from cold to heat and vice versa, which are manifested by skin contact with powerful heating environments, should always use specific creams for sensitive skin.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Infosalus, Ricardo Suárez, a dermatologist at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, acknowledges that the dryness and cold of winter are the main factors that damage our hands the most during this time, as well as the extreme temperatures, which cause the blood vessels in the face to dilate and contract abruptly, a process known as ‘vasoconstriction’, so that the hands are damaged more.
As for the special care we must follow with our hands, Dr. Suarez insists on the need to constantly put cream on our hands, as well as trying to wash our hands “just enough and necessary”.
“Constant hand washing spoils them a lot because it takes away the oil from the skin of the hand that protects it. It is advisable to wear gloves to avoid chilblains and not to touch aggressive products such as bleach. You need to keep warm, but not have your hands ‘cooked’, and it is always a good idea to wear gloves when doing housework”, the specialist points out.
AEDV recommends hand care and general skin care in winter:
- During the winter, hands and feet tend to cool down in a striking way. “This occurs because the body’s cardiovascular system reacts to the cold and causes the vessels that carry warm blood to the skin to close, a process known as ‘vasoconstriction’ to prevent heat loss. So it is very important to prevent this effect by wearing warm gloves and socks and avoiding cold in these areas. It is essential to keep your feet dry and warm, preventing them from getting wet in the snow or rain. Remember that if any part of the skin turns purple, you must go to the doctor immediately and not wait until it turns black”, he points out.
- Despite the low temperatures in winter, you should avoid bathing or showering with very hot water, since high water temperatures can damage your skin and cause it to become irritated. The ideal is warm water and not to shower more than once a day, as this would increase the dehydration of the skin.
- Dry and damaged skin during the winter can facilitate small cuts or wounds. “Take advantage of the shower time to check your skin, see if you have any reddish areas, small wounds, for example. Remember that any wound should be treated as soon as it appears, washing it with soap and water. Sometimes it may be necessary to use an antibiotic cream,” warns the AEDV.
- Avoid excessive hand washing. “Wear and tear dermatitis affecting the back of the hands is a frequent reason for consultation at this time of year, especially in people who wash their hands repeatedly for work reasons. To avoid this, the use of gloves and barrier effect creams should be promoted,” – he adds. .
- Wear gloves and warm clothes. Especially those patients who are sensitive to cold and usually suffer from perniosis (chilblains) or Raynaud’s phenomenon (cold fingers turning white, blue and red).
- Fleeing from sudden changes in temperature, as this increases the possibility of the appearance of dilated capillaries (telangiectasias or spider veins) on the face (especially the cheeks).
- Take care of the food. Increase the consumption of vitamin C and antioxidants. Do not forget to drink between 1.5-2 litres of water a day.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol, as they have a negative effect on the health of our skin, generating free radicals. In addition, alcohol worsens facial capillary dilation.