Wintertime might bring joy to many but not to our hands as they are so prone to dryness and irritation. Add to that the whole pandemic that hit us this time last year. Due to the increased frequency of handwashing and the use of hand sanitizers in combination with the cold, dry winter weather, I see lots of hand dermatitis cases in my clinic. Today I am sharing some tips with you, which I share with my patients as well. But first, let’s understand what hand dermatitis is.
What Is Hand Dermatitis?
Hand dermatitis, also known as hand eczema, is a common skin disorder. Eczema of the hands can be due to many different reasons but for the purpose of this post I will focus specifically on irritant contact dermatitis which is irritation due to external factors such as frequent hand washing or harsh products applied to our hands. One thing that you should know is that hand dermatitis isn’t a contagious condition.
Hand Dermatitis Symptoms
The symptoms of hand dermatitis appear chronologically. The first sign of hand dermatitis is the dry and chapped skin that the hands develop. The skin’s dryness then turns into patches of red, irritated skin, which, in turn, transforms into scaly, itchy skin. The next stage can be the burning sensation, accompanied by itchy blisters. These blisters might turn into painful cracks, which can also bleed.
How to Prevent Hand Dermatitis?
It’s common knowledge that prevention is better than treatment. This should be your main goal—to prevent hand dermatitis from developing in the first place. However, even if it comes to that, there are solutions for hand dermatitis treatment. Through the steps I will be sharing with you below, you can easily achieve this goal.
Wash hands with a gentle soap, fragrance-free, made for sensitive hands. Those that are non-foaming are best as they are gentle on the hands. Per CDC guidelines, wash your hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Some of the best products to use when washing hands are as follows:
- La Roche Posay Hydrating Body Wash
- Free and Clear Liquid Cleanser
- Cerave Hydrating Body Wash
While your hands are still damp, apply a thick ointment or cream. Choose one that has ceramides, if possible, to repair that disrupted skin barrier. Avoid lotions as they are not hydrating enough.
Some of the best ointments to use are:
- Cerave healing ointment
- La roche posay lipikar balm
- Avene Cicalfate Hand Cream
- Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
You could also apply creams first with an occlusive ointment on top and go to bed wearing cotton gloves. You will have baby-soft hands in the morning!
General tips to protect your hands from hand dermatitis
- Avoid unnecessary hand washing.
- Wear gloves for cleaning and food preparation.
- Avoid wearing jewelry as soapy water can get trapped under it.
- You can try an over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% if the above is not enough.
Lastly, I hope that the tips above will suffice to spare your hands from this disorder. However, if you see that they aren’t enough, I encourage you to consult your board-certified dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment. Severe hand dermatitis could be driven by other causes and not just what I discussed above. In case you experience severe hand eczema, making the right diagnosis and, consequently, appropriate treatment is crucial.