Holistic Hand Health

Public leaders, newscasters, physicians and social media influencers quickly made “wash your hands” the official motto for 2020. But after months of scrubbing, sanitizing and home workouts, the skin on your hands is probably crying for help. Here are a few ways to counteract all that action and heal your hands naturally.

Callus Cures

Doorframe pull-up bars and quick kettle bell circuits have been lifesavers for many through this period of at-home exercise routines. But prolonged use can leave the calluses on your hands in rough condition and prone to painful skin tears. Try these tips for keeping your pads healthy and happy.

Rub for Relief

Thickening of the skin, also known as calluses, is due to excessive friction. Building up a strong foundation is a good thing, until it’s not. When skin gets too thick and tough in concentrated areas, it actually tears more easily. To help prevent a tear, try wearing away a few layers.

Pumice stones: Typically used on the feet, pumice stones have equal benefit to hands. Soak your hands for a few minutes in warm water, and then gently scrub the top layers of your calluses. Don’t scrub too hard, just enough to smooth out a few rough edges.

Sand paper: Be warned, this strategy isn’t for everyone. Sandpaper is extremely effective in softening calluses, but make sure to pay attention to the grit. Fine-grade sandpaper (180-200 grit) is the most gentle and probably the best option for this chore. Coarse-grade (40-80 grit) is very abrasive and could possibly do further damage. If you want to give it a try, soak your hands for a few minutes and then softly rub the sandpaper in small circles around the calluses.

New Skin and Moleskin – You can identify a hotspot (potential tear) by sensitive, red, warm tissue. If you feel this coming on, try layering on a synthetic skin substitute. This is a temporary fix, but will allow you to complete a workout or prevent a complete tear from occurring.

Tear Repair

If you do tear a callus, don’t sweat it too much. Simply grab some hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial ointment and a bandage. Wash your hands thoroughly (it might sting for a second!) and apply the ointment. Be sure to give your hands a rest and work on another skill while you heal.

Hand Strength and Stretching

No one goes to the gym thinking they need to work out their hands and wrists. But, grip strength and mobility are actually a huge deal. Your hands are the foundation for so many exercises, including push-ups, pull-ups, handstands, deadlifts and pretty much any upper-body movement you can think of. Try this simple series to keep your hands happy.

Simple strength – Start on all fours, with your shoulders above wrists and hips above the knees. Spread your fingers out wide, evenly distributing the weight throughout the whole palm. Engaging all the muscles in your fingers, raise the base of the palm off the ground, hinging at the first knuckle. Release back to the ground. Repeat 10-12 times.

Mobility magic – From all fours, move the shoulders in a circular motion to the left, allowing the wrists to move in a similar pattern. Switch directions and rotate to the left. Repeat 10-12 times in each direction.

Flip it – From all fours, flip your palms and place the back of the hands on the ground, fingers facing toward your knees. Be gentle, and only put as much pressure on your hands as feels safe.  Move in small circular motions to give the back of your wrists lubrication. For an added challenge, flip you hands again, palms on the ground and fingers facing the knees. Move in slow, circular movements.

Other At-home Tips

  • Add a humidifier to your home.
  • Wear rubber gloves to do the dishes and clean the house.
  • Grow an aloe plant, clip an inch and use the gel as a quick moisturizer.

Simple Scrubbers

While it may seem counterintuitive to exfoliate sensitive hands, the sloughing off of the top layer actually encourages the growth of new, soft skin. If your hands are badly cracked, however, consider skipping this step. Both of these recipes can be made within minutes from ingredients you most likely have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar, the coarser the better
  • A few drops of olive or jojoba oil
  • OR
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, the coarser the better
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preparation

  1. Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, and gently scrub your hands and forearms over the kitchen sink for 3–5 minutes.
  2. Rinse and follow with the moisturizer of your choice. Don’t exfoliate more than once or twice a week.

15-Minute Oak Soak

This DIY oat soak looks like a breakfast recipe, but the amino acids from the oats combined with the lactic acid (a natural alpha hydroxy acid) in the milk create a gentle but potent cocktail for softer skin.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats, ground
  • 2-3 cups whole milk, or enough to cover hands to the wrists

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes. Place your hands in the bowl and let soak for 15–20 minutes. You can also add oats to a bath if you want to moisturize the whole body.

Overnight Overhaul

The ingredients are simple, but this overnight moisturizer will knock out dry skin in one treatment. The probiotics and lactic acid in the yogurt add an active component to the hydrating coconut oil base. The raw honey infuses the compound with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 drops of essential oil (optional)
  • A pair of non-latex gloves

Preparation

  1. Right before bedtime, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Coat your hands and wrists with the moisturizer and cover with the gloves. Wear throughout the night and then wash and remove in the morning.

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