Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Office Talk: Dry Hands


Question: My skin gets really dry in the winter. Some doctors have suggested I might have a mild case of eczema. What is the best moisturizer to use?

Answer: Seeing as I am a mega dry-hand sufferer myself, I've thought a lot about this question, and tried a lot of products. Hardly anything seems to be able to keep up with my schedule of constant handwashing (we are supposed to do it before and after every patient!), so I often slack when it comes to frequent reapplication. But then living with cracked and bleeding hands starts to get on my nerves, and I look for relief again.

Here's the deal: You need a lotion that has a lower water content and a higher oil content. Lotions that are high on the water content can actually worsen the problem, especially in the setting of eczema. Even more useful? Ointments, which boast zero water content. People often skip the ointments because they feel they are too oily, but if you can get past that, boy do they work!

Among heavier lotions/creams, here are a few of the best: Eucerin, Nutraderm, Cetaphil, CeraVe, Aveeno.

Among ointments, I recommend: Aquaphor, petroleum jelly (that's right--Vaseline!)

I posted a picture of CeraVe at the top of this post, because this has really made a difference for me. On the advice of some local, trusted dermatologists, I'd recommended the product to many patients, but never tried it myself. I thought nothing could fully heal my skin (except for summer's delightful humidity), but the morning after my first application, I was impressed. My skin was noticeably less dry and rough, and the effect lasted. Score! CeraVe says that its products have a sustained release formula to help it keep on working over the course of hours. Whatever it does, consider me impressed. Most of the products I've mentioned can be found at any drugstore. CeraVe, however, is not always at my local stores. I turned to soap.com instead, and had it delivered right to my door. :)

My sister also swears by this California Baby Calming cream. I don't know much about it, but I'm a fan of many other California Baby products, so you might want to give it a go!

I'll cross my (less dry) fingers for you that you find something on this list that works for you. :)

**This is not a sponsored post!


  1. I am so ready for winter to be done. What do you think about the whole glove slime night time regimen? I hear people swear by it.

  2. Good queston, Sunny. Yeah, I do think this is a great idea. Anything that keeps the cream in contact with the skin for longer periods of time without interruption of handwashing, is a good thing. I keep meaning to do it, but I've been too lazy. :)

  3. Having Congenital Ectodermal Dysplasia makes me a HUGE target for dried, cracked, bleeding skin during any time of the year. I agree with your recommendations, with the exception of Aveeno. Our Aveeno baby products seem to do the trick with the kids, but I've found the more times I apply adult products on myself, the worse my skin gets. I'm not sure if anyone else has found this to be true. My mother suffers from the same condition . Her dermatologist told her to stay clear of Aveeno. Wasn't sure if you had heard that or not?

  4. Renae-- you poor thing! I've heard mostly good things on Aveeno from dermatologists, but have heard one or two say it isn't their favorite. I don't think it works as LONG as some of the others, but I like it because it is one of the few products that doesn't burn my skin when I apply it while at work. Some lotions cause my hands to turn bright red and sting when I apply them. Yuck! But your condition is more serious in nature, so Aveeno probably has too much water in it for your skin. I am looking forward to warmer weather!

  5. I agree with the no burning thing and the no redness thing. :) When Aveeno first came out I was an avid user of it, especially the intense hand lotion. It was only through continued use that I realized it wouldn't work for long. I'm guessing you're right about the water thing, which would be why it still works on the kids and not myself.

    By the way, I just wanted you to know that from all that I've read so far on your blog, you're a very impressive doctor!

    The paranoid part of me worried that you would take offense to my comment, when it wasn't meant that way at all!

  6. As a fellow dry-hand sufferer, I thank thee.


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