For Immediate Relief
Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, like Aveeno 1 Percent Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, to chapped areas twice daily for one to two weeks. “This anti-inflammatory agent removes redness and soothes minor irritation or itching,” says Palm. If the areas are open, crusting, or intensely painful, consult a dermatologist. “Cracked skin is prone to infection and may require an antibiotic,” says Emily Wise, a dermatologist in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
To Prevent Chapping
Avoid extended exposure to hot water when showering or washing dishes, and when you clean the affected areas, use a fragrance-free nonsoap cleanser, like Avene XeraCalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil. Then, twice a day, apply a fragrance- and dye- free ointment (try Aquaphor)—it will seal in moisture better than a lotion or a cream. (If using a hydrocortisone or steroid cream, apply that first, then the ointment.) While healing, take a break from products and tools that strip the skin barrier or may cause irritation, like glycolic and salicylic acids, motorized cleansing brushes, retinols, and scrubs.