To prevent cracked skin on your hands, apply moisturizer before the skin gets dry, recommends WebMD. Applying moisturizer at least five times a day provides a consistent level of protection. Occasionally substituting alcohol-based hand sanitizer for soap and water and running a humidifier may also help prevent chapping.
Some people are more susceptible to dry skin because of heredity, explains WebMD. Their skin barrier is weaker and can crack and bleed more easily, especially in cold weather when humidity is low. Indoor heat, which further reduces humidity, and frequent hand-washing that strips oils from skin may worsen the problem. Additional symptoms include itching, inflammation and eczema.
Moisturizers restore skin's barrier and prevent moisture from escaping, states WebMD. Effective moisturizers require an emollient and a humectant. Emollients, such as lanolin, jojoba oil, propylene glycol linoleate and squalene, act as lubricants. They fill in crevices in the skin's surface and make skin more soft and supple. Humectants, such as glycerin, sorbitol, propylene glycerol, urea and lactic acid, draw moisture from the air to the skin's outer layer. Badly cracked and bleeding hands may need thicker, longer-lasting ingredients such as shea butter or petroleum jelly. Use these moisturizers under a pair of gloves while sleeping.