Hands and feet take a fair bit of punishment over the course of our lifetime.  Our hands are often exposed to the most and can get sore and cracked during the colder weather, we use them for washing and cleaning tasks around the home, DIY tasks and they often become the victim of picking or biting during times of stress.  Feet experience a similar level of stress and often spend much of their time in socks and shoes, being walked upon, they often get knocked and banged and, like the hands, are also get prone to dryness and soreness during extreme weather conditions.

Below are some tips to help you to take better care of your hands and feet. 

1. Invest in and use rubber gloves for cleaning tasks
Harsh detergents used in washing up liquids and household cleaners can be drying on the skin and cause irritation, especially if the person has sensitive skin.  Rubber gloves can be picked up cheaply from supermarkets and discount stores and will generally last quite a few weeks of use.  If you are allergic or sensitive to latex then look for alternatives that are made from other materials.  These are usually sold in the same places and may be a little more expensive but still easily available.  The outer package should tell you if the gloves inside are latex-free.  If it doesn't have this on the label then it's likely that they will contain latex.

2. Use a moisturising lotion or cream to soothe dryness
Moisturising creams don't need to be fancy of cost lots of money, a simple aqueous cream will work just as well and this can be brought cheaply from either a pharmacy, supermarket or discount store.  They are normally sold with healthcare or baby products and come in large tubs.  Another alternative is to use a small amount of a nut or vegetable based oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil or sweet almond.  Some can be brought from supermarkets or whole food stores.  Also pharmacies will also stock most oils and they may be sold as massage oils.  Some people use mineral based oils such as baby oil or Vaseline but these are not naturally occurring oils and will often leave the skin feeling oily as they take longer to be absorbed.  There has also been some concerns raised about the potential harmful properties of these types of oil so long term use is not recommended.

3. Trim nails regularly using a good quality pair of nail clippers of nail scissors
Aim to trim your nails once a week and use a good pair of nail clippers of nail scissors to do the job.  Avoid low quality products as they are often don't have the same blade sharpness or power.  If you find it hard to reach your toe nails then you may need to get someone else to do this for you.  If you suffer with any health conditions, such as diabetes, then it's advisable to have them trimmed by a qualified footcare specialist.  Avoid trimming your nails too short as this can cause tenderness to the tips of the fingers and toes.  Aim to trim toe nails straight across and file any sharp corners with a nail file.  Fingernails can be trimmed in a rounded shape.  Trimming your nails after they have been soaking in warm water will soften the nails making them easier to cut so you may want to do this task after having a bath.

4.  Avoid wearing uncomfortable shoes, such as high heels, for long periods of time
Keep more uncomfortable shoe styles for occasional use only.  Wearing shoes, such as ones with very high heels or little support, like flip-flops, for long periods can have a negative impact on the foots health and posture leading to foot, leg or back pain. When buying shoes look for shoes which fit well and support the foot under the arch and give your toes adequate room to move.  Where possible try shoes on before purchasing as this will give you a good idea on how comfortable the shoe is to walk in and help you to get the best fit. 

5.  Discuss any ongoing discomfort or pain with your pharmacist or doctor
Conditions, such as athletes foot, are common and usually easy to cure.  Check with your pharmacist to find out the best product to use.  If the condition is a recurring one your doctor may suggest a referral to a specialist.

6. Avoid exposing your hands and feet to extreme weather conditions
Take extra care to keep hands and feet warm during cold weather and clean and aired during warmer weather.  Chose footwear that is appropriate to the weather conditions and change socks regularly and keep hands and feet clean.  This will help prevent your feet from smelling and keep you feeling fresh and hygienic.

7. Rest tired hands and feet if they begin to ache
Many everyday activities can put our hands and feet under extra strain.  Activities such as typing, texting, playing computer games, knitting, sewing, writing and walking can all lead to discomfort if they are done over long periods of time.  Avoid putting the muscles of the hands and feet under extra stress by taking regular breaks from the activity and gently massaging and stretching muscles that become tight.  You can massage your feet by rolling a tennis ball under the foot.  Hands can be massaged with a little moisturising cream or oil, like those suggested in point 2.