7 Things You Should Be Doing to Deal With Your Dry Hands

If you're washing your hands more often, you need these tips for dry hands from dermatologists.

If constant hand washing is starting to leave your hands feeling chapped and dry, you're not alone—but this is hardly the time to cut down. By washing thoroughly and frequently, you're taking an essential step toward minimizing your likelihood of contracting the novel coronavirus, and your good health is well worth the price of admission.

That said, there's no reason you should have to suffer to keep your hands clean when you can instead establish skin-soothing routines that will keep your skin supple and soft. We spoke with dermatologists—as well as beauty and wellness experts—to get to the bottom of the problem, and to find all the best remedies for your dry hands. And to learn which health advice you can promptly disregard, here are 9 Terrible Health Tips to Ignore Right Now, According to Experts.

Limit your contact with harsh ingredients.

Woman cleaning with microfiber cloth

When it comes to dry hands, soaps with harsh ingredients and exposure to the chemicals in cleaning products are two of the most common culprits to look out for during the coronavirus pandemic. These can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to irritation that's hard to reverse.

Luckily, where soap is concerned, natural and gentle does not mean less effective. "Castile soaps, which have been around since the Middle Ages, have been removing invisible pathogens for generations," explain sister CEO team Katherine and Molly Oliver, the founders of Kirk's Soap. Try switching to these more natural options, and using rubber gloves to protect your hands whenever you clean your home.

Drink plenty of water.

Man drinking water

As dermatologists are quick to point out, staying adequately hydrated is key for any good skincare routine—even when it comes to your hands. Drinking plenty of H20 helps promote skin elasticity, flushes out toxins, and kicks stubborn, dry skin to the curb.

"Your skin is 64 percent water," note the Olivers, who recommend staying well hydrated throughout the day. Beyond its transformative effect on skin, you can expect a range of other health benefits: The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking between 11 and 15 cups every day to stay in optimal health. And for the pick-me-up you need right now, distract yourself with these 50 Feel-Good Facts to Cure Quarantine Boredom.

Apply Aquaphor or Vaseline to your hands overnight.

close up of fingers with petroleum jelly on them and tub below

If your hands are dry, red, cracked, or chapped, they're crying out for moisture. But all moisturizers are not created equal, and some can actually make the problem worse.

New York City-based dermatologist Susan Bard, MD, recommends slathering your hands with thick emollient moisturizers at night and covering your hands with gloves while you sleep, so your skin has time to repair. As she explains, these types of moisturizers (which include brands like Aquaphor and Vaseline) "tend to contain occlusive ingredients such as petrolatum, dimethicone, beeswax, and lanolin, which help prevent moisture loss from the skin." Another perk? They're fragrance-free and rarely lead to more irritation.

Find your perfect post-wash moisturizer.

close up of woman putting her finger in moisturizer

If you're on the hunt for the perfect cream for dry or cracked skin, not one but three dermatologists that we spoke to independently name-checked Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream as the one to buy. As Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae, MD, of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York explains, this particular product is "a highly effective humectant that increases skin's moisture content and decreases transepidermal water loss," which makes it ideal for returning your hands to their former glory.

Whatever brand you choose, be sure to apply your moisturizer every time you wash your hands, as part of your hand-washing routine.

Get a humidifier.


Bae also recommends getting a humidifier, which can help battle dryness caused by constant washing. These increase the overall moisture levels in your home or office by emitting water into the air.

Humidifiers are also frequently recommended by doctors to fight symptoms of flu, cold, and dry coughs. One study even showed that it could be useful in reducing the symptoms of COVID-19, making it all the more useful to have on hand. And for more advice on staying healthy while social distancing, try these 17 Mental Health Tips for Quarantine From Therapists.

Save the hand sanitizer for when you really need it.

Mom giving kid hand sanitizer

For a hand sanitizer to be effective, it needs to contain a minimum of 60 percent alcohol—which is why hand sanitizer can wreak such havoc on your hands. But Seema Sarin, MD, a doctor with EHE Health, warns that you should be careful not to sacrifice effectiveness for comfort. "Hand sanitizers with a moisturizer base are available," she explains, "but they're not as effective in killing viruses."

That's why it's a good idea to switch to regular soap-and-water hand washing any time you have that option, and save your hand sanitizer for when you really need it. And to be on the lookout for other ways you might be putting yourself in danger, learn 15 Seemingly Innocent Habits That Increase Coronavirus Risk.

Carry travel-sized moisturizing products when you leave home.

Travel Size Products {Checkout Counter}

One way to ensure that your hands stay soft and smooth is to always carry moisturizer with you. That way if you do need to use hand sanitizer, you can follow it up with a restorative cream that counteracts the effects of concentrated alcohol.

"Purchase the smaller travel versions of your favorite hand cream and keep it close so you can take it on the go," suggests Bae. "If you can't find the travel size, simply fill these empty containers with the stuff you love, so it is always easily accessible." Your dry hands will thank you!

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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