Derm Tips on Preventing Hand Dermatitis During These Coronavirus Crazy Times

Derm Tips on Preventing Hand Dermatitis During These Coronavirus Crazy Times featured image
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The world seems to be on the verge of lockdown. Italy is closed. The stores are out of cleaning wipes and Purell is working double time to get us more hand sanitizer. In these confusing times, we’ve all become more conscious than ever about sanitizing and washing our hands 24/7. But what are we doing to our skin? We asked dermatologists for their top tips on the best ways to keep our hands from taking a toll from the constant cleaning. 

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The Problem
“Over washing and over sanitizing can cause dryness and irritation,” says East Greenwich, RI dermatologist Caroline Chang, MD. “This can lead to irritant hand dermatitis. The skin on your hands develops tiny cracks which makes you more susceptible to pathogens such as warts.”

Birmingham, AL dermatologist Holly Gunn, MD says that while washing is important, overwashing can also make people more susceptible to getting sick: “Viruses can enter the skin through tiny tears in the skin caused by over washing and scrubbing the skin.”

The issue is not only over washing or over sanitizing, Washington, D.C., dermatologist Farhaad Riyaz, MD says the mere act of using sanitizer with normal frequency can also have an effect on the skin. “The alcohol in hand sanitizer that kills coronavirus also strips away oils that provide natural moisture to the skin.”

Sanitizer Plus
Dr. Riyaz recommends choosing a sanitizer that does more than just disinfect. “I like sanitizer with aloe and vitamin E because our staff of 20 plus washes their hands at least 50 times a day and don’t complain about dryness,” explains Dr. Riyaz. “The aloe is soothing, less drying and leaves a nice scent that doesn’t cause an unpleasant smelly reaction with rubber gloves.”

Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias says he wholeheartedly agrees: “I love 3M Avagard Hand Antiseptic for this because it moisturizes while killing 99.999 percent of pathogens.”

Gentle Washes
Covington, LA dermatologist Christel Malinski, MD recommends using warm, not hot water, to cleanse as well as a gentle, unscented soap to alleviate any irritation. Dr. Chang adds, “If you’re using hand sanitizer, make sure to wash the residue off with soap and water once in a while.” 

Moisturize, Then Moisturize Again
Dr. Gunn says while everyone is talking about washing, no one is remembering that the other half of the equation is moisturizer. “It is important to moisturize our hands and body after washing,” she says. “The moisturizer can act as a barrier between the skin and the virus and is more easily washed off the skin.” 

“Use a rich cream that is not fragranced,” advises West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth R. Beer, MD. “Not a sunscreen and not an anti-aging cream meant for your face. Just use a simple moisturizer like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($14.49), Neutrogena Hand Cream ($5.19) or Theraplex HydroLotion ($16.50).”

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