Dry hands and sore, cracked cuticles result when the skin loses moisture, often caused by exposure to wind, cold temperatures, sunlight, water, frequent hand-washing, garden soil or use of anti-bacterial cleansers or other harsh chemicals. As moisture is depleted, the skin loses its protective barrier and becomes cracked, itchy and inflamed. The nails and cuticles crack and split, often resulting in painful hangnails. A simple, old-fashioned home remedy involves restoring and maintaining the skin's lost moisture.
Soak your hands in lukewarm water every night at bedtime. Dry your hands gently with a soft towel.
Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly. Avoid lotions and oils, which are too thin to be effective. Coat your fingernails with the petroleum jelly. Massage the jelly generously on your cuticles and under your fingernails. If your fingernails are long, trim them regularly to prevent dirt from accumulating under your them.
Put a pair of cotton gloves over your moisturized hands and leave them on overnight. Gloves increase the penetration of the petroleum jelly, resulting in an intense moisturizing treatment.