Skin Deep

Dry hands from soap and sanitizer used amid the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what to do

Frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds at a time is an excellent practice to adopt to help stop the spread of viruses, but it can leave your hands dry, chapped and irritated. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize these effects and keep your hands both clean and comfortable at the same time.

1. Take rings off before washing

While you should clean your rings, it is best not to do so while washing your hands. Soap can easily become trapped underneath rings, causing irritation and dryness. Just make sure the drain is closed before taking them off! Then, wash your hands following proper guidelines from the CDC, for at least 20 seconds.

2. Rinse hands completely

Once you’ve finished washing your hands, make sure you rinse them completely. Any soap residue that you don’t wash off will irritate and dry your skin. Note that you do not have to wash or rinse your hands in scalding water. In fact, it is best to use lukewarm or cooler water to avoid excess dryness and irritation.

3. Gently pat dry

Avoid vigorously rubbing your hands on a rough towel or paper towel in order to dry them. Instead, gently pat them dry with a soft towel or other clean material.

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4. Apply something to protect your hands

I like to use GCP Pre and Post Procedure Cleanser or Element 47 Skin Fortifying Mist, which is actually used to protect acne-prone skin. It is only sold by dermatologists, so call your dermatologist or use the code DRB at Both of these are made from the same formulations in hospitals that are used to keep the skin clean.

5. Apply barrier repair moisturizer

After every time you wash your hands, apply a barrier repair moisturizer to your hands. Barrier repair moisturizers contain lipids, ceramides and cholesterol to mimic the natural protective barrier of your skin. This helps to restore its strength and ability to keep your hands hydrated and protected. My favorite is Zerafite because it contains a superior barrier repair technology called MLE.

Do not be afraid to apply this moisturizer as many times as you need to throughout the day. This will help to prevent extreme dryness, cracking and redness.

Bottom line

It is crucial that you wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds, especially during a viral outbreak. However, the health of your skin does not have to suffer because you’ve increased your hand-washing habits. Follow these steps to ensure your hands stay healthy and comfortable.

Additionally, only use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available. Not only are soap and water more effective, but they can be less harsh on your skin, since the alcohol in hand sanitizers is very drying.

For more skincare tips and advice from Dr. Leslie Baumann, be sure to follow Baumann Cosmetic on YouTube, or follow @BaumannCosmetic on Instagram or Facebook.

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