Rough Hands Rescue

With the recent increase in handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, it’s no surprise that one of the more common conditions we have been seeing in patients is dry, cracked hands.  This is because in addition to ridding your hands of dirt and germs, soap also strips the skin of its natural oils, resulting in a damaged skin barrier.  Despite this, hand washing and sanitizing is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

So, what can you do to continue keeping your hands clean and protected, but also prevent the damaging effects of harsh soaps and alcohol-based cleansers?  

When it comes to choosing a hand soap, look for an unscented and gentle cleanser.  Wash your hands with lukewarm (rather than hot) water, then pat them dry and immediately apply a hand moisturizer.  Keep your moisturizer by the sink to help remind yourself to do this every time you wash.  To avoid irritation, your moisturizer should also be fragrance-free.  Thick, white creams or ointments are preferred to body lotions in a pump bottle.  A few of our favorite moisturizers include Vanicream Moisturizing Cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, and Eucerin Eczema Relief Hand Cream. 

Another good time to moisturize is right before bedtime, when a thicker ointment such as plain Vaseline or Aquaphor can be applied to dry cracks on the hands.  If you are following these practices regularly and still find yourself dealing with inflamed skin, you may have a form of hand eczema and should contact your dermatologist to discuss prescription treatments.  Happy hand washing!