Dry Hands? Don’t Blame Your Hand Sanitizer

By Kristen Green, Clinical Scientist, GOJO Industries 6/14/2021


Your hands are valuable tools. Like any instrument, there is maintenance and upkeep required to ensure proper functioning. This pandemic has made everyone focus more on cleaning their hands – and that is excellent – but because of all that extra cleaning, some may be experiencing dry, cracked hands and blaming it on their hand sanitizer. However, there are many causes and solutions to dry hands.

Hands drying out, feeling tight, becoming cracked or chapped are bothersome complaints that affect our skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, which fends off germs and keeps the skin hydrated. The skin on your hands is an excellent protective barrier that serves as the first line of defense against infection-causing germs. Since dried-out skin can lead to cracks in this armor, a vital component of caring for your hands is keeping them hydrated to preserve your skin function.

Typically you may think of dry hands as occurring during the winter months, when there is less humidity and available moisture in the air, so your hands require extra attention to restore moisture and maintain skin health. But in summer, sun exposure, air conditioning, and chlorine from the pool can dry out your hands, 1 so it’s important to use moisturizer, even if the air is humid. Also, remember to apply sunblock to the backs of your hands while you’re covering the rest of your body, then reapply after handwashing.

We can renew our skin health by following these tips:

  • Use cool water to rinse. When washing your hands, using hot water can strip the hands of naturally occurring lipids and contribute to dryness.
  • Rinse hands thoroughly after washing. Leaving soaps on the skin can cause irritation contributing to agitated and chapped skin.
  • Don’t dry with force. Dry your hands thoroughly, but by patting them instead of dragging the towel roughly over your skin, which can cause additional skin irritation that can be avoided with a gentler drying approach.
  • Moisturize after handwashing. An ideal time to apply a moisturizer is soon after washing your hands to lock in some of the moisture. It’s OK to lotion after sanitizing, just make sure your hands are completely dry before applying the lotion.
  • Use a well-formulated lotion. Lotions and creams that are oil-based can help moisturize your hands, increase skin hydration, and restore lipid content to the skin surface, contributing to the barrier function of normal skin. 2 Choose moisturizers from brands you trust and use them often, especially when the skin feels dry and tight.
  • Use gloves when washing the dishes or outside in cold temperatures. Gloves provide a physical barrier that protects your hands from dish soap (which was not formulated for hands) and the winter elements.
  • Don’t use harsh soaps or low-quality hand sanitizers. Handwashing or sanitizing with quality products will not damage your skin. Use gentle cleansing soaps with added moisturizers and quality alcohol-based hand sanitizers with added moisturizers and skincare agents, such as PURELL® Hand Sanitizer. Your skin should feel smooth and soft after washing. If it feels dry or tight, you may need to use a different soap.
  • Healthy hands start with clean hands. Washing hands with soap and water and using quality hand sanitizer are some of the easiest steps to reduce germs that can make you sick. (Read our blog about when to use soap vs. and sanitizer.)

PURELL® hand sanitizers are formulated to be effective against germs in the most demanding situations and contain moisturizers and skin conditioners to help hands feel soft, even with heavy use. So, when you choose America’s #1 brand,3 you get products with the proven strength doctors trust most, and the skincare properties guests, employees, customers, and you need.

Our newest formula, PURELL 2in1 Moisturizing Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel, kills 99.99 percent of germs while nourishing skin and improving skin condition. With a unique blend of moisturizing ingredients that hydrate and quench the skin, the more you use this sanitizer, the more hydrated your skin becomes. It will leave your hands feeling clean and soft – with no sticky feeling at all. This new formula will soon be available on Amazon in a portable 4 oz. bottle.

1. Retrieved on June 3, 2021. Dermatology & Mohs, “How to Avoid Dryness in Summer Months.” https://www.dermatologymohsinstitute.com/blog/how-to-avoid-dryness-in-summer-months
2. Wilhelm KP. Prevention of surfactant-induced irritant contact dermatitis. Curr Probl Dermatol 1996;25:78—85
3. 52 Week IRI Data ending April 2018; 2017 HPIS Data; Hall & Partners, September 2017 Brand Survey.