Your hands can become severely dry and begin to crack for a number of reasons. Restoring moisture is vital to how your skin heals and repairs itself. For severely cracked, dry hands, it may take a bit of time to heal the skin. Allowing your skin to get worse or stay chapped for a long period can result in infection and possibly scarring.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends lanolin cream to help restore moisture to severely dry, cracked hands and feet. Since lanolin cream is thick and heavy on skin, it helps trap moisture better than a lotion would. The AAD states that the product doesn't need to be expensive to be effective. Only take note of the active ingredients used in the cream.
Lanolin cream is sold over the counter at retail stores and pharmacies, so it does not require a prescription. For added protection and relief, apply the lanolin cream to your hands prior to going to sleep, and cover them with a pair of gloves or socks to help lock in additional moisture.
Dimethicone cream is a thick barrier cream similar to lanolin cream. Dimethicone cream not only helps restore moisture, but it also relieves minor skin irritation and soothes itchy skin, according to Drugs.com. Dimethicone cream is only available by prescription, and you should only use it as directed by your health care provider.
Since this is a prescription drug, it is stronger than regular over-the-counter medications you might find. Do not bandage or cover your hands unless advised by your physician. Do not share this medication with others or use the medicated cream if your doctor did not prescribe it for you. When using dimethicone cream, you may experience a mild burning sensation, stinging or itching.
Hydrocortisone cream can help restore some moisture to your skin as well as relieve itching and burning. The cream is readily available over the counter in various strengths and does not require a prescription. There are stronger prescription-strength medications, such as a corticosteroid, that your doctor can prescribe if necessary. Corticosteriods contain hydrocortisone-like properties as well as a steroid to help reduce inflammation associated with dry, cracked hands.