Frequent handwashing leading to irritation?

Whether it’s a need to do chores involving water, due to one’s occupation, or just a habit, frequent handwashing can lead to irritated skin of the hands.  The hands become dry and stripped of their natural protective oils.  Irritant dermatitis is the name of the rash which often ensues from frequent handwashing — it is a type of rash that occurs as a result of direct physical, mechanical or chemical trauma from an outside culprit.  The most frequent culprit is handwashing.  Between the soap and the water, the damage is done.  Skin becomes dry and rough, and can become variable degrees of pink/red.

So how can you prevent irritated hands from frequent handwashing?

– First, if it’s not necessary, then don’t wash your hands.  This is not to mean that you should not wash your hands when they are dirty or soiled. You should!  Handwashing is important in preventing spread of germs.  However, if you find yourself excessively handwashing, figure out if you can cut back.

– Although hot water helps cleanse the hands more readily of microbes, they can also strip the skin’s oils more readily.  Depending on how germy your hands are, you may considering using lukewarm or cold water to wash as opposed to hot water.

– Limit the amount of time you are washing.  Do not wash for an excessively long time.

– Pat dry instead of rubbing dry.

– Follow up with a moisturizer.

– If all else fails, see a medical professional such as a dermatologist for help.  If your rash is particularly bad, prescription medicated creams or ointments may be helpful.