Proper Hand Washing

With the recent news of COVID-19, many patients are washing their hands or using hand sanitizers multiple times per day. While it is important to maintain proper hand-hygiene, washing your hands multiple times per day can lead to dry and cracked hands, especially if you suffer from eczema or live at 8,000 feet! 

In order to avoid overwashing your hands, here are some appropriate times, recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for handwashing throughout the day:

  1. Before, during, and after making food
  2. Prior to eating
  3. Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with diarrhea and vomiting
  4. Before and after treating open wounds
  5. After using the bathroom 
  6. After tending to a child who has used the restroom, or after changing diapers
  7. After sneezing, cough,m or blowing your nose 
  8. After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  9. After handling pet food or pet treats
  10. After handling garbage2 

It is important to note that handwashing is more effective than using hand sanitizer. If you do not have access to soap and water, try to use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.2 Since alcohol is drying hand sanitizers contain skin softeners, which help to keep moisture in!

If you are struggling like many to keep your hands hydrated, here are some tips and  products that can help maintain skin hydration: 

  1. Look for products that are cream or ointment based instead of lotions, which can be drying. Dr. Walls recommends Zerafite as the best facial and body moisturizer. 
  2. Avoid products with special additives or fragrances that can further irritate eczema or worsen dryness, keep it simple! Over the counter Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment or CeraVe’s Healing Ointment are great choices.
  3. Apply emollients at least two times per day and immediately after bathing or handwashing.1



  1. Westone WL, Howe W. Treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema). UpToDate.§ionRank=2&usage_type=default&anchor=H1063295835&source=machineLearning&selectedTitle=1~150&display_rank=1#H1063295835. Published October 2, 2019. Accessed March 17, 2020.
  2. When and How to Wash Your Hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published October 3, 2019. Accessed March 17, 2020.
Sameeha Husayn, MS3 Sameeha Husayn is a current third year medical student at Rocky Vista University College of Medicine. She is passionate about dermatology and plans to pursue it. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, rock climbing and hanging out with her dog Newton.

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