What Can I Do About Dry Hands From Overwashing?

The short answer from a dermatologist
applying lotion after washing hands

Q: I’ve been washing my hands so much that they’re getting dry and cracked. What can help with that?

A: One of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands — a lot. But all that scrubbing can make the skin on your hands dry, cracked and sore.

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Your best bet is to use a moisturizing soap and rinse well with cool water (hot water can wash away healthy skin oils). After washing, apply a lotion to help seal in the moisture. If you’re prone to very dry skin, you can skip the lotion and go straight to a good, thick moisturizer. You want to look for a cream, balm or ointment — something that’s thick and a little bit hard to spread that will provide more moisture to your skin.

For those who have really dry hands, it’s wise to consider wearing gloves when you do dishes or clean. Also, running a humidifier in the bedroom at night can help moisten the air and your skin while you sleep.

Dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD

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