Pretty much since we moved to Germany but especially since I’ve had my children, the skin on my hands has suffered. There’s the sun and heat in the summer – not good for skin at all – but the worst is the dry cold in winter. Coming from Ireland where the damp winter air and the wind really chills you to the bone on a cold day, I thought that the crisp, dry German winters would be great. In many way they are, being so much brighter than the overcast winters in Ireland. My hands wouldn’t agree though.
Winters past have seen me try one hand cream after another. I’ve gone with recommendations from friends, chemists, websites and cosmetics brands. So far I haven’t found the ideal one for me. Dotted round the house, car and my office at work you’ll find hand balsams, deep moisturising creams and lotions with urea or other dry skin cures. In the depths of winter I’ll apply hand cream several times a day and still the skin on my knuckles and, most painfully, the tops of my thumbs will crack. The backs of my hands can look like they’ve been pulled through rosebush so littered are they with what seem to be small scratches but are actually cracks in the skin.
Today we took a walk with friends to get some air and stretch our legs after coffee and cake at our house. By the time we got back to the house it was just about getting dark, there was a chill in the air and I was glad of the scarf I’d dithered about bringing an hour or so earlier. I hadn’t noticed the cold on my hands. It was only when I washed them before dinner that the pain came. Warm water and some mild soap left my fingers and knuckles bright red for a few minutes. Drying them with a towel was not quite sore but uncomfortable. It’s begun, I thought to myself, cracked skin season is here, arriving punctually on November first. Even applying a gentle hand cream stung, so this year I’m taking a new approach.
This winter I’ll mostly be wearing gloves. Good ones. Warm ones. One that keep out the wind. Ones that won’t snag on my rough, dry skin. Ones that match my coat and bag. Possibly also even ones that keep my hands moisturised overnight in bed.
Keeping out the cold should help the state of the skin. But if the worst comes to the worst at least a pair of elegant gloves will look better than my actual hands. That said, if you happen to have the miracle cure for dry, cracked hands due to winter weather, PLEASE let me know.