4 Essential Remedies For Frequently-Washed Hands

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

We are all washing our hands more than ever, so it’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing dry, cracked skin as a result. While warm water, soap, and scrubbing is what kills harmful germs and bacteria, moisturizing your skin to prevent dryness, redness, and cracks is also an important part of hand hygiene. Dry and cracked skin is not only uncomfortable, but also opens a potential route for the virus to enter the body. Paying attention to skin health is especially important for those with conditions that can reduce skin integrity, such as diabetes. There are a few simple, easy-to-remember steps you can take to ensure your hands stay both clean and comfortable.
  1. Use warm water (but not too warm).
    Using overly hot water when washing your hands is likely to dry out your skin. But isn’t it more effective to use the hottest water you can stand? Not according to the CDC, who recommends using cold or lukewarm water. To kill germs via temperature alone, the water would be too hot for our skin to handle. When we wash our hands, germs are neutralized by the action of soap and scrubbing, which lifts pathogens from the skin and breaks them apart. This can happen at much cooler, comfortable temperatures.
  2. Don’t over-dry after washing.
    There’s no need to aggressively dry your hands after washing. This can irritate the skin, and potentially re-open any areas of cracking or injury. In fact, dermatologists recommend leaving your hands a bit wet after washing, as moisturizing while damp helps the lotion to soak into the skin more effectively.
  3. Apply hand cream or ointment into your skin.
    Washing and drying alone doesn’t cut it. Moisturizing after you wash your hands is an essential step to restore natural oils and prevent eczema and irritation. Dermatologists recommend using a pea sized amount of a moisturizer that contains mineral oil or petrolatum, comes in a tube rather than a pump bottle, and is fragrance and dye free after each washing. If you are in a situation where you are using hand sanitizer in place of washing, allow the sanitizer to dry, and then apply the moisturizer. Making your own natural hand cream is also possible, and a perfect activity to do with your loved ones while spending more time at home. Look for a recipe with the ingredients recommended above and no added fragrance.
  4. Treat your hands overnight.
    Already suffering from cracked or dry hands? It might be time for an overnight treatment. Using either your homemade moisturizer or a store-bought ointment, generously cover your hands with the salve. Then pull on a pair of fabric gloves and head to bed. In the morning, your hands will feel restored from the deep moisturization.

While hand washing has rightly become an important focus, it’s also just as critical to focus on the health and integrity of your skin overall. In addition to being proactive in how you wash your hands, pay attention to signs of dryness, and address them quickly. Having a healthy hand routine will enable you to continue the washing and sanitizing necessary to stay safe from COVID-19. Keep washing your hands, even if they are dry, and contact your health care provider if you continue to have excessive dryness or cracking after trying these tips!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.