I mentioned this to someone else as well and works like a charm. Soak your hands in warm water for 5-10 minutes. This softens the skin making it easier for applications. Next, get some olive oil and rub all over the entire hands, especially at the tip of the fingers where the nails are. Then, get a tiny amount of table salt and rub GENTLY. This exfoliates all the dead skin, rather than using a fragrant brand, this shouldn't burn or irritate the skin. Then soak your hands again in clean warm water for another 5-10 minutes then pat dry. Hand creams are ok but you don't want to go using strong products too soon and all the time. Just use a very thick moisturiser that is obviously non-greasy for yourself and repeat this procedure at least everyday or every second day.
Here's an unusual cure that worked great for me because I don't like using hand creams all the time. Get some petroleum jelly and nitrile painter's gloves. They are thin plastic-like gloves, but contain no latex. Latex can irritate skin and will dissolve if exposed to petroleum jelly. You should be able to get them anywhere that sells painting supplies. At night when you are just watching TV (or some other lazy activity) for a few hours, get two gloves set in front of you ready to put on (one for each hand). Then rub a nice generous coating of petroleum jelly on your hands. Then carefully slide a glove onto each hand. It may help to have someone do it for you, but I was fine doing it myself. If you get a little jelly on the outside of the glove, you can wipe it off with a paper towel after. Be sure to use a rather thick coating of the jelly, it's a great skin softener. The gloves of course will keep the jelly from getting on anything you touch. Now, go about your evening routine. It's best to try and keep the jelly on your hands for a few hours to "sink in" and soften. I never tried sleeping with the gloves on, but it's probably quite possible. When you take the gloves off, wash your hands with a moisturizing hand soap (nothing harsh). I noticed a tremendous difference in just a few days. If your hands are as dry as you say, you probably want to leave the coating on your hands for as long a period as possible. Good luck.
I have had dry hands all my life, exema when I was younger. The problem is not the cream it is trying to stop them getting dry in the first place. If yours are anything like mine the solutions below don't help when you go to work.
First if your hands are really dry they may crack and simple things like cutting tomatoes is a nightmare (just an eg). Water and cold weather are the culprits. Everytime you wash your and dry your hands you take out skin oils. You need to rehydrate staright away, you need to find a cream that rehydrates and leaves a little oil on the skin. I use a cream called Junior Oilatum, its non greasy and can be applied as many time as you want. stay away from perfumed creams. Over using things like petrolium jelly can have the oposite affect where the skin feeds on the cream. This would create little spots filled with liquid under the skin.
If you like to keep your hands clean carry around a small bottle of the all in one hand washer and a little oilatum.
I have the same and it is the hand washing and washing up that makes it worse. I always use rubber gloves for washing up/housework and although it sounds unhygenic I have to keep hand washing to a minimum. Also - if you can get Hydrocortisone cream 1% without prscription in the US then try that. It is not greasy at all - it is a very mild steroid cream but is the only thing that works for me. All soaps/detergents will make it worse - esp the types men are more likely to use such as swarfega. Also if it gets really bad you can wear moisturising gloves overnight with loads of cream inside.
After [I]years[/I] of trying different lotions & creams etc., I finally found a hand cream that has worked miracles healing my dry, rough as sandpaper, hands! And, It's not greasy. It's called [U]GOLD BOND ULTIMATE HEALING[/U] Skin Therapy Cream. (Make sure it says "healing")
Wishing everyone who sees this the same relief & success that I am now enjoying.