Eczema and Hand Sanitizers

It can be challenging to find good hand sanitizers for eczema that won’t dry or irritate your skin.

For the more than 3 million people with the inflammatory skin condition, which can flare with environmental triggers like hand sanitizing, having the right products on hand (literally) can be a savior for your skin.

Since hand sanitizing has been a standard safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important now to choose the right hand sanitizer for eczema to keep your skin soft, moisturized, and free of eczema flares.

Here’s everything you should know about hand sanitizers for eczema, including what to look for and what to avoid.

How hand sanitizer impacts eczema

Increased handwashing and hand sanitizing paired with lack of moisturizing can lead to dermatitis, another term for eczema.

With hand hygiene-induced dermatitis, this situation can create an imbalance in the skin barrier, causing it to flare up or introduce an inflammatory response that presents itself in dry, red, and itchy eczema.

Antiseptic products like hand sanitizers and soaps, which help prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms, can be especially harsh on your hands. They can potentially make eczema worse, leading to increased itching, breakouts, and even bleeding from dryness.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, many of us may already be dealing with dryer-than-usual hands.

Those of us with eczema, however, might get hit harder by the high alcohol content in CDC-recommended hand sanitizers.

This can lead to dry, itchy, and red rashes on your hands. Even those who never experienced eczema prior to the pandemic are now dealing with eczema breakouts.

That’s because hand sanitizer can break down the already delicate skin barrier on your hands, leaving you prone to these breakouts. But that doesn’t mean there’s no solution for this often painful situation.

Best hand sanitizers for eczema

Thankfully, there are plenty of great hand sanitizers for eczema on the market that take this issue into consideration and offer products for sensitive skin that still keep your hands clean.

One of the key features to look for is lack of fragrance. Since fragrance is a top trigger for eczema and eczema flares, taking that out of the equation can potentially help keep eczema symptoms at bay.

You’ll also want to look for more natural products with minimal ingredients or products with oil- or jelly-based moisturizers.

Try these hand sanitizers for eczema if you have sensitive skin:

  • Eczema Honey Hand Sanitizer Gel
  • Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray
  • Dove Beauty Nourishing Hand Sanitizer
  • Suave Hand Sanitizer Unscented
  • Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer
  • Purell Naturals Hand Sanitizer

Key to keeping hands moisturized is pairing handwashing or a hand sanitizer with a good moisturizer every time. This can help protect the skin barrier and reduce the dryness and itching that often accompanies eczema.

When it comes to moisturizers, consider your needs. During the day while you’re working or doing errands, you might prefer a lighter lotion that leaves less residue on your skin. At home or on weekends, you can opt for a thicker ointment or cream that lasts longer.

Make sure that your hands have dried from the sanitizer use before applying a moisturizer all over.

Here are a few moisturizers to try:

  • CeraVe Eczema Relief Creamy Oil
  • Vaseline Advanced Repair Fragrance-Free Hand and Body Lotion
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Oil Mist
  • Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hand Cream
  • Burt’s Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream

Hand sanitizers to avoid

Hand sanitizers for those with eczema should steer clear of products with drying ingredients.

First and foremost, fragrances, while also potentially irritating to the skin, can reduce the moisture in your hands as well. This can lead to cracked and dry skin, setting the stage for eczema flares.

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are two other ingredients to keep an eye out for. These can increase skin dryness.

Parabens, or a type of preservative used in skin care products, should also be avoided if possible.

Since eczema results in skin inflammation, taking every step to keep inflammation under control will be important for allowing flares to heal and eventually pass.

Tips to manage hand eczema

There are several things you can do to manage hand eczema, most of which require only a bit of effort while practicing good hygiene.

When to see a dermatologist

Sometimes, you may need the help of a medical professional to get hand eczema under control. If lifestyle changes aren’t working and eczema flares are causing you increased pain or discomfort, it’s wise to see a dermatologist, who can prescribe you medicine or an ointment.

Moisturizing and avoiding irritating products can often do the trick, but prolonged eczema that isn’t budging should be examined by a doctor.

This is especially important for eczema that includes bleeding, since open wounds are prone to getting infected. Skin infections are common in people who have eczema, so keeping flares or breakouts well-managed is essential.

For any questions about hand eczema, hand sanitizers, or which products may be right for you, consult your dermatologist to figure out a plan of action to keep eczema flares away for good.

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