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If Hand Washing Is Killing Your Skin, This Is The Best Way To Fix It

moisturize hands

In case you missed it, I recently wrote a post about the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And while keeping your hands clean remains as important as ever, many of us are now experiencing one of the unpleasant side effects of frequent hand washing: dry hands!

But in today’s post, I’m offering up some simple solutions to this uncomfortable problem! We’ll start by discussing why dry skin and dry hands are more problematic than you might think, and then I’ll share some recommendations of products that can heal your dry hands and help you keep them moisturized in the weeks to come. :-)

moisturize hands

The Problem: Dry, Cracked Skin From Frequent Hand Washing

According to the CDC, frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. But frequent hand washing can rob your skin of its natural oils, leaving your skin dry, itchy, or with painful cracks.

And the effects of dry hands can extend far beyond pain and discomfort. Broken skin is more susceptible to infection from bacteria and other germs. It also makes hand washing more painful, which makes it less likely that you’ll do it as often as you should.

But luckily for all of us, there’s a simple way to prevent frequent hand washing from drying out your skin!

moisturize hands

The Solution: Don’t Forget To Moisturize!

The solution is actually quite simple: moisture your hands frequently! In fact, there’s no reason not to apply a moisturizer to your hands after every washing, especially if it helps prevent cracks that could get infected.

But what sort of moisturizer should you use? If the skin on your hands is already dry or irritated, an everyday body lotion may not be the best tool for the job.

The Best Moisturizers To Heal Dry Hands

moisturize hands

Option #1: Ointments

One of the most effective options for healing very dry hands are emollient ointments like Aquaphor. A thick, oily ointment not only softens skin, it also forms a barrier that locks in moisture.

The main drawback of moisturizing ointments is that they can be quite greasy. To avoid covering your home in greasy fingerprints, apply a generous amount of ointment to your hands before getting into bed. The ointment will sink in overnight and you’ll wake up with softer, smoother hands!

moisturize hands

Option #2: Creams

If you don’t want to use an ointment or don’t have one at home, moisturizing creams are a good option too. A moisturizing cream typically contains more water than an ointment, making them a little less inconvenient to apply during the day.

I personally swear by this moisturizing cream for healing cracked skin, but I’ve also made homemade versions of body butter and an in-shower moisturizer that I really like too!

moisturize hands

[bonus_tips]Bonus Tips For Healing Dry Hands

  • Pull on a pair of simple cotton gloves after applying a greasy moisturizer. The gloves will help the moisturizer work its magic and prevent you from getting greasy smudges on everything you touch.
  • Cotton gloves can also be useful to wear under cleaning gloves. They’ll absorb excess moisture and sweat, keeping your skin much happier over all.
  • Part of what moisturizers do is lock in existing moisture. Maximize this effect by applying your moisturizer of choice right after you finish showering!
  • To keep your hands clean without drying them out, use soaps and sanitizers that feature moisturizing ingredients like aloe, plant oils, butters, etc.
[/bonus_tips]

Do you have a moisturizer of choice for healing dry hands?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Beauty Tips

  • Sometimes get the cracked bleeding knuckles on my hands. It generally happens with the extreme cold winter air – get in the Midwest. Also sometimes during the warmer months it happens.

  • I, too, had cracked hands and now use either Eucerin or Nivea with a pair of white gloves on my hands every night and in between, I use either cream when I think of it during the day.

  • I used to work in produce and constantly had wet, chapped hands. I used Bag Balm and cotton gloves at night a few times a week. A quick fix was using the Bag Balm and gloves and doing dishes in hot, hot water with cleaning gloves on. The heat made it absorb quicker.

  • A great, truly great!, product to try is “Gloves in a Bottle!” Some pharmacies carry it, but I usually get it from Amazon.

    It’s a little known, but truly wonderful, barrier lotion that protects hands sealing moisture in, and once dry won’t wash off for 4 hrs., so a drop or two of it immediately after washing and drying hands, can keep hands soft and protected through several more hand-washings over the next 4 hrs. It’s also reputed to be a great aid for eczema sufferers, and it’s great to use before gardening too, in case any soil gets through gardening gloves, since it can keep soil from penetrating and staining fingers or nails also, but make sure to get the lotion well under the nails and rubbed into cuticles well.

    Any excess lotion applied, once also fully dry on hands, will come off the next time hands come into contact with water, so be sure to give your hands a rinse first if you plan to wash something like produce right after applying lotion. Don’t be concerned that it is all being washed off, though–it’s not, and your hands will still be protected for hours. Any contaminants that get onto your hands in the meantime, however, will stay on top of the barrier lotion, and would wash away with soap & water, while your hands remain protected from the harsh effects of repeated contact with soaps or detergents.

    I used to have chronically dry hands, that got even worse in winter. My hands became very rough and sore, and would sting with discomfort too. I’d spent a small fortune on dozens of highly recommended products, and a great many of them had helped a good deal to heal my skin and guard against some damage too, but the effects had seemed somewhat temporary in nature. Gloves in a Bottle delivers an entirely different level of skin care that needs to be experienced to really appreciate it. It prevents damage and protects skin for hours and through multiple hand-washing. For anyone with extremely dry hands or who needs to wash their hands with great frequency, it can be almost life-changing! It’s a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way, so a bottle lasts a pretty long time. I love it, and would never want to be without it!

    • PS: If there isn’t any excess lotion on hands, it doesn’t even feel like there is any product on the skin at all, but it’s working nevertheless, without any greasy or sticky residue. I haven’t had dry hands since I’d discovered it, and now only need to apply it more occasionally, like near the end of a very harsh and frigid winter….or like now, during this pandemic, when I’ve been washing my hands and have been cleaning almost constantly.

      • My pleasure. Hope you’ll be as impressed as I was when I’d first gotten it. I’d just replenished my supply of it too. There is nothing else like it. It’s really amazing stuff.

  • In my field of work it just isn’t possible to run back and forth to wash our hands. We keep bottles of hand sanitizers nearby. During this virus we’ve been using plastic gloves. Also we try to sanitize areas as much as possible. My hands usually get like this during the colt winter months. I agree Aquaphor is great. It cleared it up after wearing cotton gloves overnight. The O”Keefe’s healing balm that my mom swears by wasn’t helping. I’ve used the Curel fragrance free lotion and the Norwegian hand formula at home during the cold months. I use a small tube of the Olay with Shea butter formula at work It’s great. Someone mentioned earlier that certain soaps can be part of the problem. I have a book by a Dermatologist and she a lot of soaps have detergents in them which contribute to the problem. She said when people quit using the top offenders her patients skin clears up.

  • What heals my cracked and bleeding knuckles is HEEL BALM, the stuff for feet – it’s brilliant! And I recently discovered that ECZEMA cream works wonders, in my attempts to find cosmetic products without silicones. Both highly-recommended!

  • I always had a problem with cracked finger tips until I started using Ahava Mineral Hand Cream. It’s the only thing I’ve ever used that keeps my hands soft and crack free. They have B1G1 sales a few times a year online.

  • Gold Bond hand/body lotion is great for dry hands. O’Keefes Working Hands is excellent for dry cracked fingers and heels, you must use very small amount. Preferably at night with gloves or socks.

  • Making my own foaming soap has been essential for my hands. I use Castile soap, olive oil, fractionated coconut oil and essential oils. I haven’t had a problem with dry hands. It’s your recipes I’ve just added a few things.

  • I make my own foaming hand soap. I followed your instructions from a previous post. I added a tablespoon of glycerin, a teaspoon of vitamin e oil, & coconut oil to the mix. My hands are super soft & crack free.

    • I wonder if it might be the soap you or anyone else is using that is causing dry skin? I am washing my hands many, many times a day and in the morning and night put either Cetaphil or Ceravive hand cream on the tops only and have been surprised I haven’t had any feelings of dry skin as I had worried I might.

      Knowing how essential it is to remember to wash after EVERY encounter with someone or something uch as a home delivery if we don’t want to get sick.

  • I’ve ALWAYS used and had success with Avon’s Original Moisture Therapy Hand Cream (in a tube). I put it on only at night and the damage done all day is erased…. IF your hands are already dry and cracked and sore, it takes about 14 days (nights) to get everything healed up…. then it keeps skin soft and healthy. Very affordable and can even find it on sale several times a year. I won’t use anything else.

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