by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Eczema Due to Sanitizer & Handwashing? Here’s What to Do

Image via @bhollitt

“Wash your hands” is a common refrain in these times since proper hand-washing and sanitising is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses. But when you have skin conditions like eczema, washing your hands often can lead to dry and cracked skin and itchiness. It’s also difficult finding the right soap or sanitiser for sensitive skin.

Here’s how to care for your skin while protecting yourself during the pandemic.

Why are my hands so dry?

The top layer of our skin — the stratum corneum — is our skin’s key protective layer. But frequent hand washing with repetitive exposure to water, soap and cleansers will disrupt this layer. Over time, this can lead to dry skin and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis.

Choose the right hand sanitizer

The key to finding the right hand sanitizer for eczema-prone and sensitive skin is to look for those that have the right amount of ethyl alcohol, (which is 75%) but also has moisturizing properties such as essential oils. This way, you get to keep your hands hydrated while sanitising them.

Pat dry

After washing your hands, you should pat dry with a paper towel or tissue. It’s best not to rub dry as this can cause irritation. Once mostly dry (leave some dampness on the skin), apply a generous amount of hand cream to lock in moisture.

Moisturize throughout the day

Carry a pocket tube of moisturizer or hand cream that so you can apply it throughout the day. Using hand cream after washing your hands is a safe and clean way to prevent dry skin.

Just remember to clean and/or sterilize the outside of the containers you are using to carry around sanitisers and moisturizers. Otherwise, you run the risk that these tubes are carrying harmful germs on their surfaces.

Do hand masking

Who says masking is only for the face? You might want to add a hand mask routine before bed to give your hands the nourishment it needs. You can put on a really thick cream and put on a pair of cotton gloves before going to bed. You’ll wake up to softer and smoother hands.

See your derm

If there are any red, dry and itchy areas that just won’t go away and don’t improve over time, consult your GP or dermatologist.

They can start you on prescription ointments that are likely to be more effective than over-the-counter creams.