Skin Care

Dry, inflamed hands? Heal Them With These Dermatologist Tips

In today’s hygiene-conscious world, constant hand washing and sanitizing can often lead to dry and irritated skin. The importance of hand hygiene is undeniable, playing a crucial role in preventing illness and the spread of infections.

The good news is that we can effectively clean our hands while maintaining skin health and appearance.

Cleansing, Rinsing, Repeating, and Moisturizing

While water and soap are vital for cleanliness, they can have adverse effects on the skin barrier, composed of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. A compromised skin barrier can result in redness, flakiness, cracking, and dryness.

So, how can a bacteria-conscious, diligent hand washer navigate this? Focus on ensuring that your skin is both clean and adequately moisturized.

Despite the information promoting the need for frequent and intense cleaning, there’s no reason to resort to harsh cleansers. Instead, opt for effective and gentle hand soaps.

Even if you can’t access antibacterial soap, following the guidelines learned in childhood – using warm water, rubbing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, washing both the top and bottom of your hands, and between fingers – will make your cleaning routine effective.

When it comes to moisturizing, opt for simple solutions like lightweight lotions or toners. During the day, use a water-based moisturizer on your hands to avoid the greasy feel that oily products might provide.

In the evening, consider a heavier, oil-based moisturizer, especially if your skin is very dry, cracked, or experiencing eczema. Look for products with soothing ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E, avocado, almond, or rice bran oil. To enhance barrier repair, you can also wear white cotton gloves overnight or for a few hours, providing your hands with some well-deserved rest.

Expert Recommendations

If you notice inflammation or other changes in your skin, despite your best efforts to care for your hands, consult a board-certified dermatologist. Even if an in-person visit is challenging, doctors can provide guidance through phone or video consultations, prescribing over-the-counter or prescription medications.

As always, don’t forget to apply sunscreen daily on your hands and all exposed skin, especially when spending time outdoors. Use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, preventing the formation of sunspots and ensuring healthy-looking hands.

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