Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Gopika suresh (Journalist) on 21st Nov 2020

Is your sanitizer causing dry hands? Why and how to treat it?

Is your sanitizer causing dry hands?

The importance of hand sanitizer in our day-to-day or daily lives

Due to the ongoing covid 19 pandemic, the importance of regularly using a sanitizer is being stressed. With health officials emphasizing hand sanitizers' role, people are now upping their hand sanitization game as it is one way to curb the spread of Covid 19.  

What to do after sanitizing your hands?  

However, there is one step we all forget post-sanitizing our hands. Most of us fail to slather a layer of hand cream, which is a critical step. Ironically, over sanitizing hands can cause cracks on the skin, ultimately leading bacteria to get into our bodies.  

What does sanitizer do to your skin apart from protecting it from germs?  

According to Sara Hogan, a dermatologist at UCLA Health,

our skin's outermost layer comprises oils and wax, which behave as a shield to guard our skin. These oils also maintain the natural moisture level of the skin.  

When we sanitize our hands, this natural barrier is broken. The hand sanitizer can not discriminate between germs, debris, unwanted oil, and natural oils. So, when you don't apply hand cream after doing so, it can cause itching, redness, flaking, discomfort, and in some severe cases, can cause cracks too. Those who suffer from preexisting dermatologic conditions such as eczema may experience worse symptoms.

Dr. Justin Ko, chief of medical dermatology (dermat) at prestigious Stanford Health Care, agrees and says that hand sanitizers can strip your hands of its natural oils and moisture. Although hand sanitizers are less damaging than soaps, they still do enough damage to dry your skin out. Because your hands become so dry and can sometimes crack, you are at risk of contracting conditions like eczema and sometimes infections too.

In this scenario, naturally, all of us must be carrying a hand sanitizer in our purses. However, make sure to bring a hand cream as well, to take care of your hand's post sanitizing. It is always best to carry your tube of hand cream, so you don't allow any germs to spread.  

Are there any ingredients people should avoid when their skin is chapped? 

Products with excessive fragrance are known to irritate sensitive or chapped skin. So, it may be a good idea to stay away from hand sanitizers that smell very strong. Naturally, most sanitizers are made of alcohol. However, too much alcohol content can dry your skin and make it chapped. Today, in the market, several hand sanitizers come with a moisturizing base. However, it is crucial or essential to note that these won't be as effective in killing the virus as others.  

Should you use a hand cream or a body lotion to moisturize your hands after sanitizing them?  

It is always better off to use a hand cream or ointment instead of a body lotion. According to Dr. Ko, hand creams are more nourishing than body lotions. Lotions are water-based, and they can dry the skin out even more as water evaporates.

However, hand creams are made of oils that are more effective after sanitizing your hands. Ko says, "Lotion is fine in many cases/instances, but not when it comes to protecting our hands." You may look for ingredients like petroleum or even use vaseline, which is one of the best moisturizers on the market.

Are there other treatments besides hand creams that people should consider? 

1. Using gloves for your hands overnight  

Just like your face, utmost care must be given to your hands overnight. Before you go to bed, apply or use a thick layer of moisturizer, and cover your hands with cotton gloves. This helps to increase the absorption of moisture into the skin. 


Ko says that those who have sensitive skin must make it a point to stock up cleaning supplies such as wipes when they wear gloves.  

2. You could try out glove masks that protect and moisturize at the same time 

If you want to go one step ahead, you could even use moisturizing masks for the hands, which several beauty junkies swear by. These are like gloves but masks that can be worn for twenty minutes and washed off later.  

3. If your skin is dry, try installing a humidifier that can increase moisture content in the room  

You could even use a humidifier at night in your room to raise the level of humidity. This can help with dry skin.  

4. For those with cracks on hands, make sure to use liquid adhesive and bandages to cover them 

Along with these steps, dermatologists recommend those who have cracks on their skin to cover them up with bandages and liquid adhesives to avoid any possible infections.

Those with dry and sensitive skin must take good care of their skin with these steps while using a hand sanitizer.  

How to keep your hands clean and moisturized 

Once your hands are dry from using a hand sanitizer, make use of a hand cream immediately.  

What ingredients to stay away from while purchasing hand creams or ointments?  

However, according to dermatologists, these hand creams must not include irritants like retinol, allergens, anti-aging serums, dyes, and fragrances. Make sure your hand sanitizer is gentle and, if possible, fragrance-free. Choosing such hand creams will be less irritating to your already damaged, dry, and chapped hands.  

Choosing between a bottled hand cream and one in a tube 

Dermatologists recommend you to stay away from hand creams that come in a pump bottle. Instead, go for one that comes in a tube.  

How to wash your hands and later apply hand cream?  

Step 1:

  • Wash your hands in lukewarm water for twenty seconds every day. 
  • Use a gentle soap and wash every crevice on your hand. 
  • Clean between the fingers and around your nails.  

Step 2:

Dry your hands using a towel. However, make sure to leave some amount of water on them. Allow your hands to air dry.  


When your hands are slightly damp, moisturize with an ointment or hand cream.  

What to remember while applying hand cream?  

Although there isn't any right or wrong way to make a note of it while using hand cream, it is best to squeeze some onto the back of your hand. Next, rub the end of your other hand against it. Most dermatologists recommend doing this as the skin on the hands' back is thinner and contains fewer sebaceous glands or glands that produce natural oils. Therefore, these can get dry very quickly.  


When you use a hand sanitizer, make sure to apply hand cream or an ointment as soon as the sanitizer dries. This is because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claim that hand sanitizers can kill up to 60% of the germs prevalent on your hands. This can be very drying, and dry skin makes it easier for germs to attack.

Remember that when your skin is moist, it is better protected from bacteria.