How to prevent: The thin skin covering the hands is particularly susceptible to dehydration during the winter. Protect it by wearing gloves outdoors and using rubber gloves when doing dishes. And each time you wash your hands, moisturize afterward. “Keep a jar of cream by every sink in the house,” says Leddon. Try TheraSeal Hand Protection ($24, dermstore.com).
How to treat: For an extra moisture boost, apply a thick layer of hand cream before bed, and sleep wearing white cotton gloves (available at drugstores). The gloves allow better absorption of the cream.
When to see a professional: Cracked, raw hands that sting or burn when you apply creams (or, worse, when you get them wet) should be treated by a doctor. “Severely dry hands may have eczema, psoriasis, or an allergy,” Hawk says. “Oral antibiotics, internal cortisone, ultraviolet light treatments, or strong external ointments may be necessary.”