The coronavirus pandemic has heightened the importance of practicing proper hand hygiene. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing remains a key practice in protecting yourself from infection. The CDC also recommends the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content whenever soap and water are not available. Hand sanitation is imperative to curb the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, it’s left many people with dry hands from hand sanitizer.
This is especially common for people who use too much hand sanitizer. Moreover, frequent handwashing, cold weather, and pre-existing health conditions like eczema can exacerbate the issue.
This presents a problem because cracks in the skin can serve as an entry point for bacteria and viruses. Dry hands can be painful, too, and can lead to discomfort in your day-to-day life. If you’re looking for an effective remedy for dry hands from hand sanitizer, these are some tips that medical dermatology professionals recommend.
How to Remedy Dry Hands from Hand Sanitizer
1. Moisturize Your Hands
Balance hand washing and sanitation with moisturizing your hands with lotion, ointment, or hand cream. It will help soothe and heal dry skin.
Apply a mineral oil or petrolatum-based moisturizer. It won’t add moisture like water-based lotions, but instead will lock in and retain moisture. This will protect your hands and negate the dryness from hand sanitizer use and frequent washing.
A natural product that is dye-free and fragrance-free will work best and is less irritating on chapped skin. Moisturize your hands whenever you feel any dryness and tightness. At night, you can leave on a thicker amount of hand cream overnight and wear gloves to improve absorption. The greasier, the better!
In addition to that, wash your hands with gentle fragrance-free soaps that include glycerin. Glycerin-based soaps are some of the most soothing for dry skin.
2. Pick a Quality Hand Sanitizer
A product with at least 60% ethanol/ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl/isopropanol can effectively kill germs. The CDC also recommends it.
Since alcohol can be drying in nature, choose a hand sanitizer that contains emollients and other skin softeners like glycerin and aloe. This will combat skin dryness and irritation. Stay away from hand sanitizers formulated with methanol and 1-propanol. These ingredients are toxic and harmful to human health.
3. Use Gloves when Doing Chores
If you’re suffering from cracked hands from hand sanitizer, it’s important that you don’t worsen the problem. Household chores like cleaning, doing the laundry, and washing the dishes expose your hands to drying chemicals.
Wear thick gloves when handling cleaning supplies to avoid direct contact with drying agents.
Wearing gloves while doing grocery shopping is another way to take care of your hands. Make sure to take your gloves off without touching their dirty surface and wash your hands after that.
4. Use a Humidifier at Night
Using a humidifier at night can help alleviate not just dry hands, but overall skin dryness, especially in cold weather. Invest in a good humidifier and place it by your bedside. This will raise the humidity level in the room and keep your skin, lips, and hair moist.
5. Avoid Touching Public Surfaces Unless Needed
One of the best ways to prevent dry hands from hand sanitizer is to limit its use in the first place.
Whenever you are out in public, only touch surfaces with your hands directly unless you really need to. Use items you have on you or other parts of your body instead. For instance, use a pen to press elevator buttons, a tissue when opening taps, or your elbows or feet to open outswing doors.
If and when you need to use your hands often, don’t touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth. This will help you to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. During grocery shopping or similar occasions, it’s not practical to sanitize your hands every time you pick up an item.
Instead, wear a mask, avoid touching your face, carry out your grocery shopping while socially distanced. Then, exit the store and sanitize your hands before you enter your vehicle. This efficiently limits the number of times that you have to use hand sanitizer, while still keeping you safe from COVID-19.
6. Use UV Light to Disinfect Surfaces
Another way to help prevent dry hands from hand sanitizer is to invest in a high-quality UV cleanser. Research shows that UV-C radiation can disinfect many surfaces and inactivate pathogens. Recent studies also prove that UV-C can kill COVID-19.
You can use a UV light cleanser to disinfect public surfaces and commonly used surfaces and items before touching them. You can use it for shopping cart handles, elevator buttons, ATMs, handrails in public transportation, public toilets, and more.
However, it’s important that you don’t fall victim to cheap and low-quality UV wands. They emit non-UV-C light or UV-C light that is weak in potency. Go for a UV-C sanitizer that emits the optimal wavelength (267 to 286 nanometers) and is able to disinfect surfaces within seconds.
Shop for one that’s made by a reputable brand that also comes with safety features to protect its customers. When used correctly, a good UV wand can act as your safety barrier against viruses and help you limit hand sanitizer use.
7. See a Dermatologist
If the problem persists, and you continue to suffer from dry, cracked hands from hand sanitizer use despite these tips, consider seeing a dermatologist.
A dermatologist can properly diagnose the cause of your skin dryness, and prescribe topical products to relieve and treat chapped hands. A skilled professional can also give tips to help you avoid any pain and discomfort.
Washing hands with soap and water is crucial to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. A hand sanitizer can be an effective alternative when you can’t wash your hands. However, excessive use can cause damage to your skin.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop using it, but rather that you should only use it when necessary.
Limit the use of hand sanitizer by avoiding touching commonly-used surfaces or opting for gloves and a high-quality UV-C cleanser to disinfect them. Moisturize your hands often by applying hand cream or lotion and use a humidifier.