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Handwashing during COVID-19: How to help your dry, itchy hands

Extreme Handwashing: Tips and Tricks to Save Your Hands

Remedies for dry skin, cracks, peeling and pain

by Lindsay Boyers, MD
Dermatology Department at Boulder Medical Center


Handwashing is critical to the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, the increased frequency of washing our hands can leave skin dry, cracked, peeling ,and even painful! This can actually make skin more susceptible to germs and other bacteria.

Here you will find simple tips and tricks to keep your hands up for the challenge of constant handwashing:

Water temperature and moisturizing

Use lukewarm water to wash your hands.

Use lukewarm water to wash your hands, not hot water. Moisturize as soon as possible when you’re done washing your hands. Even better, apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp to help lock in the moisture.

When it comes to moisturizers, the greasier the better. Vaseline is the gold standard but does not always agree with day-to-day activities. Products that are worth a try include Vanicream Moisturizing Cream, Gloves in a Bottle, Aquaphor, and Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream. Fragrance-free and dye-free products are going to be less irritating.

Using moisturizer after washing your hands does not negate your handwashing efforts.

Apply moisturizer after using hand sanitizer.

A note about hand sanitizer

The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer made with at least 60% alcohol to effectively kill germs. Since these products dry your skin, it’s important to moisturize afterwards to maintain hydration. However, after applying hand sanitizer, make sure your hands dry completely before applying the moisturizer.

Overnight rescue

If in need of rescue therapy, apply thick moisturizer or Vaseline onto your hands and cover with white cotton gloves or cotton socks. Then, leave overnight and let the healing take place while you sleep.

When to see a dermatologist

If your hands are still not better after trying the above tips and tricks, you may need a prescription strength topical medication to help restore the skin. Consider a visit with a dermatologist who can examine possible underlying issues and help with treatment. Consider a telemedicine visit with any of our Boulder Medical Center dermatology providers from the comfort of your own home while practicing #socialdistancing.


Lindsay Boyers, MD, Dermatologist

Now offering Video Visits…
Dermatology at Boulder Medical Center

The Dermatology Department at Boulder Medical Center diagnoses and treats skin, hair, and nail disorders in adults and children.

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