Struggling with dry hands can be pretty painful. Even if you are diligent about keeping them protected when doing housework or gardening, and unfailingly apply moisturizer whenever the opportunity arises, you can still suffer from bone-dry, cracked, parched hands.

It is still of vital importance to protect your hands from dish detergent, laundry detergent, excessive washing, and irritating ingredients, and also when doing potentially irritating manual activities such as yard work or sports.

Wearing gloves to prevent contact with these types of products and ingredients is of the utmost importance. However, a significant number of women may find they are allergic to latex gloves.

The faster you get an emollient moisturizer on your hands after washing, and the longer you can keep it on, the better. (Note: Any good, emollient moisturizer will work-it does not have to be labeled “hand cream” to be used on the hands.)

It helps to keep small tubes or bottles of moisturizer all over the house, including near the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, at the bedside, and in the garage.

Keep more in your car, purse, briefcase, and desk drawer. That way it is never out of reach for a quick application. The best moisturizers for daytime are moisturizing sunscreens whose active ingredient is avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

As an added benefit, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide an occlusive barrier that can act as a protective layer to retain moisture in the skin while keeping the sun’s rays off the skin. (Bear in mind that brown “sun spots” on the back of hands and arms are a direct result of relentless, daily, unprotected sun exposure.)

If your cuticles are also dry and/or cracked, make sure to moisturize them with a very emollient, thick moisturizer.

Almost any moisturizer for dry skin will do, and it is not necessary to purchase special cuticle creams: they contain absolutely nothing special for the nail or cuticle. Products with glycerin, petrolatum (Vaseline) or other oils are wonderful cuticle-softening options.