Woman applying moisturizing lotion on her dry hands.

What can you do about those dry hands?

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We’re all doing our part to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

We wash our hands with soap and water and count – one 1,000, two 1,000, three 1,000 … all the way up to 20 1,000.

Then we blow our nose and we wash our hands all over again – one 1,000, two 1,000, three 1,000 … you get the idea.

After washing thoroughly in between the fingers, under the nails, on top of the hands, even the wrist area, we squirt on hand sanitizer for extra protection and rub it in all over as it burns every little open cut on our fingertips.

But we do it, over and over and over throughout the course of the day because it’s for our protection and the protection of others in stopping the spread of germs.

Then at some point during the day, you get a look at those hands. Whose hands are they? They’re dried and cracked and look years older than you feel. It’s the price we pay for doing our part.

What to do about those dry, cracked hands?

“A few things can help,” said Noah Simon, MD, with OSF Medical Group – Primary Care in Rockford. “Try washing your hands with gentle soaps and warm water – not super hot or cold.”

Dr. Simon also said to be careful about having contact with other irritants, such as home cleaning supplies.

“Use gloves when you can when cleaning your house,” he said.

Apply moisturizer

Person applying moisturizer to dry hands.“It’s perfectly appropriate to use moisturizing lotions or creams on your hands throughout the day after washing and using hand sanitizer,” Dr. Simon said. “It’s especially important to use it right before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning.”

Non-scented lotions or creams are usually preferred, he said.

“What has worked best for me, personally, is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. Others that work well are Gold Bond and Eucerin, as well as many more,” Dr. Simon said.

Pay attention when you dry

It’s important, he said, to pat your hands dry, don’t rub them with a towel or paper towel.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dry, cracked skin makes it easier for bacteria and other germs to get inside your body. Applying moisturizer after handwashing helps heal dry skin.

“It’s also best to wash your hands with soap and water as opposed to using just hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers have alcohol in them, which dries your skin out,” Dr. Simon said. “Also, after every time you wash your hands with soap and water, put lotion on your hands while they are still damp. This will help lock in the moisture.”

If you do use hand sanitizer, apply moisturizer once the sanitizer has dried.

Other advice?

“Keep doing your part to help prevent the spread of germs and wash your hands regularly,” Dr. Simon said.

Last Updated: January 19, 2022

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About Author: Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016.  A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.

She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, “The beach is good for the soul.”

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