How to beat Covid-19 hand irritation!

With all this hand washing, my hands are a mess. Any ideas?

It’s a good idea to get on top of this now, because it will get worse.  When hands get cracked, they develop micro fissures which then are portals for bacteria like Staph Aureus to get into.  None of us need that right now.  After awhile, visible painful cracks and fissures can develop.

First things first!

  • Make sure that you are hand washing correctly –  see my last blog post
  • Second, look at your soap.  While you want your hands really clean, you also don’t want your skin to fall apart.  Look for soaps like Dove for sensitive skin, or the Vanicream Cleansing Bar (free of most nasty chemicals) at the drugstore
  • Hand sanitizers are necessary in many situations right now.  Bear in mind they can be very hard on skin due to the high alcohol content of most.
  • Try to lotion after each washing or hand sanitizer application.

What to look for in a hand cream or lotion

  • First look at the ingredients.  Avoid creams/lotions with a long list of chemicals.  Just more potential for irritation
  • If alcohol, water, glycerin or aloe vera are in the first 3, considering NOT buying.  These ingredients don’t help hold moisture in.  The water and aloe are nice, but they don’t provide any barrier function for the skin.  It’s the barrier function that needs support.
  • Look for ingredients like shea butter (I love this one), beeswax, oils of any kind, or even vaseline (petrolatum) to help provide a barrier.  You want these ingredients at the top of the ingredient list, not the bottom.
  • You may want to avoid lanolin, also known as wool wax alcohol.  Many are sensitive to it.

Apply the hand cream so it will work!

  • Use enough to cover your whole hand
  • Rub some of it into the cuticles, so that they don’t become cracked and infection-prone
  • Reapply 20 times a day and for sure at bedtime.  Only partly joking here.


Hope this helps,

Dr. Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
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Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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