Written by Margaret Kontras Sutton, M.D. –

I have been washing my hands like a fiend—after I get the mail, after I bring in a package, after I go grocery shopping, WHILE I am grocery shopping. I am sure you are too. As a result, I have developed dry, red, scaly areas on my hands which are itchy and even painful.

Frequent handwashing can “strip” the skin of the natural oils which give us protection from irritants in our environment. Many people who suffer from underlying skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are predisposed to developing hand rashes. Not to mention the factor of stress which we seem to have a fair amount of these days.

Here are some tips for preventing and treating the dry, rashy skin which can develop from frequent handwashing.

  1. Consider washing the backs of the hands less vigorously than the palms. The palms and fingertips are where we get most of the contact with our environment and therefore are the most potentially contaminated. Also the palms of the hands have skin which is very thick and can withstand the insult of frequent washing more so than the backs of the hands.
  2. Rinse hands thoroughly. Leaving soap on the skin is an irritant.
  3. Apply moisturizer frequently. Applying moisturizer immediately after washing and before the hands are completely dry will help “lock in” some of the moisture from the rinsing process.
  4. Heavier moisturizers will be more effective. Creams are more effective than lotions. Patients love our Sutton Ageless Hand Cream which can be found on our online store.
  5. If that is not enough, consider employing occlusion. This is a technique to help moisturizers penetrate the skin. Purchase a pair of white cotton gloves and wear them over a thin coat of Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment at bedtime. Your hands will be silky smooth in the morning, ready for another day of a 100 washings.

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