6 Ways to Avoid Chapped Hands From Frequent Washing

Mother and child washing hands
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If you’ve been rubbing your hands raw by washing them repeatedly to avoid spreading the new coronavirus, experts have some tips that can restore your skin.

Thorough hand-washing has become a national ritual ever since the coronavirus pandemic reached U.S. shores. And it is important to continue to scrub those germs away. We have tips for doing it right in “Beware These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes.”

However, while all that hand-washing is good for our health — and could in fact save our lives — it isn’t so great for our skin.

Repeatedly washing your hands can turn your skin dry. Worse, you could develop a rash known as “hand dermatitis” that can leave your skin red, itchy, cracked or sore, according to dermatologist Kristina Liu and dermatology resident Janelle Nassim, writing in the Harvard Health Blog.

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent this from happening.

According to Liu and Nassim, those steps include:

  1. Wash hands in cool or lukewarm water. Hot water is more likely to damage skin, and does not appear to help kill germs.
  2. Gently pat hands dry. Roughly drying your hands with a towel also can injure skin.
  3. Apply a thick moisturizer afterward. Using a moisturizer on your hands locks in moisture. You should do this while the skin is still a bit damp. Look for moisturizers with ingredients such as petrolatum, mineral oil, ceramides and glycerin.
  4. Choose a soap with moisturizing ingredients. Such soaps may be less harsh to your skin. Look for ones with glycerin, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. In natural products, look for avocado oil, shea butter, coconut oil and jojoba oil.
  5. Avoid soaps with harsh ingredients. Allergens that might trigger contact dermatitis include fragrance, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, cocamidopropyl betaine and balsam of Peru.
  6. Apply a heavier moisturizer at night. Harvard says plain petroleum jelly is a great choice for coating your hands before bedtime. Not only does it do a great job of locking in moisture, but it also is free of ingredients that irritate skin.

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