Ceramides repair dry skin on my hands, skin damaged by gardening

Ceramides are your dry hands best friends

 SPRING IS HERE! Everything is more beautiful and seems happier in spring, but maybe not our hands. 
Maybe you have been working in the garden without gloves or over-washed your hands as a healthy precaution against COVID-19 or you are a busy at home parent dipping your hands in dishwashing water, mopping, wiping and immersing your hands in detergent too many times a day… whatever the reason, hands are the first on the job, and eventually it shows: The skin of our hands becomes dry, rough and scaly, or maybe even wrinkly.  
Dry skin on hand is caused by a reduction or change in the composition of the skin lipids such as ceramides and fatty acids. A loss of ceramides for instance affects how well our skin cells are tightly attached to each other and will accelerate the loss of water through cracked, damaged skin layers.  
In some cases, health issues or diet can induce a change in the composition of skin's lipids but most of the time, daily aggressions are the reason for dry hands as it can strip the skin of its natural oils: 
Our hands are constantly exposed to harsh treatment as we attend to our daily tasks and commitments, all of which damage the most important function of our skin, acting as an effective barrier between our internal body and the external world.
Factors that can damage the skin of your hands: 
Dry Hands - Ceramides
  • Physical damage:  
    The overuse of our hand without proper protection (such as gloves) in activities such as gardening, building, manipulating objects all day (think the person at the cashier scanning our purchases) physically removes skin cells, layer after layer and eventually causes tiny cracks in the skin which become irritated and even painful 
  • Occlusion and over moisture:
    Counterintuitively, wearing gloves all day can also lead to skin discomfort: rubber or plastic gloves create a non-breathable barrier which causes the skin to over hydrate, which in turn increases the permeability of the skin to bacterial, fungal, or chemical contaminants, causing irritations or skin infections. 
  • Chemical aggression:  
    Think detergents in all kinds of washing situations. These remove dirt from our hands but also the precious natural oils from the skin. We have rightly increased the number of times we wash our hands in a day, as recommended by the health authorities to reduce the risks or transmitting the COVID-19 virus, but it is recognised that this can have a negative impact on the skin of our hands. Suitable care need to be taken to counterbalance the stripping effect of over-washing the skin (a good example is  provided here by the dermatological recommendations on hand hygiene in schools during the Covid pandemic  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7404656/pdf/DDG-9999-na.pdf) 
  • Light (Infra-Red, heat) and UV Radiations  
    These are other culprit for wrinkly, damage skin on our hands, as we often forget to apply sunscreen and everyday exposure to the sun, hanging the washing, having a tea at the terrasse of our local coffee shop causes cumulative damage that results in our hands “revealing our age”.  
(Further information about the critical role of our skin in protecting our bodies, and how important it is to maintain its health and barrier function can be found in this research paper:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175800/) 
Dry, protective gloves Ceramides
The most obvious way to improve the condition of dry hands is prevention:  
  • A physical barrier is the most effective protection for your hands: 
    wear protection when working on DIY building works around the house, and washing dishes. But don't keep these on for too long and air your skin.  
  • Use a barrier moisturiser to waterproof the skin before tackling housework:  
    Generally based on heavy emollients or waxes such as petrolatum, barrier moisturisers are designed to sit on the top of the skin and prevent detergents from stripping our natural skin oils. Contrary to physical barrier, emollients will still let your skin breathe. 
  • Apply sunscreen regularly:
    Keep a small tube of sunscreen in your pocket or handbag and apply on your hands several times a day will make a significant difference over the years. Favour a medium SPF factor (20 to 30SPF) which will be sufficient for a 30 - 60min exposure (such as lunch time). Higher SPF are often heavier or oily which can make hands slippery or leave unsightly fingerprints on everything you touch. Apply less, but often. 
When this is not possible, or if the damage is done, repairing the skin of your hands is the nest best step.  
To care for dry hand, think REPAIR and SOOTHE:  
  • Ceramides are the best, most efficient ingredient which will rapidly restore and strengthen the skin barrier by re-sealing the skin cells tightly and restore the water holding capacity. This will immediately improve the smoothness and beauty of your hands but most importantly also further protect them from external aggressions.  
    For in-depth information  on the importance of ceramides for skin health, check your previous blog post (https://www.xayabeauty.com.au/blogs/news/ceramides-are-you-ready-for-the-next-buzz-ingredient) 
Look for a hand cream or serum rich in ceramides, or use ceramide supplements (such as Xaya Ceramides) and add a few drops of the ceramide concentrate to your usual hand cream. Alternatively, apply a few pure drops to your hands just before bed for intense repair within hours.  
  • Butters (such as Shea) and oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids will improve the condition of the skin by replenishing the levels of vitamins E and A as well as cholesterol and boost the natural defence of our skin against UV light and environmental pollutants.  
  • Finally, look for soothing extracts that can help reduce redness, itchiness and occasionally pain caused by dryness.  
The best time to repair dry skin is at night: Apply a nourishing hand treatment generously just before bed, this will give your hands 6 to 8hours of undisturbed calm to regenerate itself before tackling a new day.  
But the other time is… NOW: Prevention is the best remedy! Do not wait until the skin has become over dry as it can enter a circle of dryness – inflammation which itself can trigger barrier damage causing more skin dryness. Apply a nourishing, protective cream often and if possible with a SPF.  
Our hands are continuously exposed to the elements, and whilst we have been taught to look after our face well, we often forget our hands. Whilst prevention is always the best course of action, there are now many efficacious skincare treatments to help soothe and repair: Maintaining a healthy skin on our hands not only improves skin feeling and comfort, but will also help prevent premature aging of your hands.