The Best Way To Prevent Dry Hands After Washing Them Too Much

For almost 10 months now, you've heard the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) stress the importance of proper hand hygiene and recommendations to wash your hands frequently, as a means to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both organizations encourage washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and when soap and water are unavailable, they recommend using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. This increase in handwashing and hand sanitizer use among the global population has led to an increase in the incidence of hand eczema and other dermatologic conditions (via Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).

A group of dermatologists in India noted earlier this year a significant increase in new-onset hand eczema, even in those not working in healthcare facilities. Of the symptoms that were reported following aggressive handwashing and sanitizing, the most common were redness, itching, dryness, and burning sensations. They also noted a study from China which found 74.5 percent of healthcare workers who were treating COVID-19 patients were experiencing hand eczema.

While proper hand hygiene is one of the easiest and most accessible means of slowing the spread of COVID-19, doctors warn against obsessive or unreasonable hand washing. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling, DO, exclusively shared with Health Digest her tips and recommendations on how to avoid dry skin.

Dr. Sperling's recommendations on how to prevent dry hands

While alcohol-based hand sanitizers are being recommended to slow COVID-spread, Dr. Sperling suggests avoiding these sanitizers in the proper setting if you can, as they can be highly drying and irritating to the skin. Instead, she recommends the use of a gentle hand cleanser like Dove to wash your hands. Dr. Sperling notes that while washing your hands, "Use warm, not hot, water. Hot water may feel soothing on the skin, but it dries out the skin even more." Once you're done washing your hands, dry them thoroughly.

Now comes the soothing step. "After drying hands, use a generous amount of moisturizer and lather it in with your hands. Feel free to use that multiple times throughout the day to help ensure moisturization," says Dr. Sperling. Similarly, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a hand cream or ointment which contains mineral oil or petrolatum and which are "fragrance-free" and "dye-free." Aquaphor, CeraVe therapeutic hand cream, and Aveeno eczema therapy calming balm are just a few of Dr. Sperling's favorite products for treating dry skin.

So while we will all be washing our hands significantly more frequently than usual for the foreseeable future, make sure to use mild soaps and moisturize multiple times a day.