Experiencing Eczema Due to Hand Sanitizer? Here’s What to Do

20 Jul.,2022

From hydrating soaps and hand sanitizers to barrier-protecting moisturizers, here’s how to help dry, sensitive skin.


Hand Sanitizer

If you’re like me and have eczema, you’re likely having a difficult time finding the right soap and hand sanitizer for sensitive skin, as constant handwashing and usage of alcohol-based products can be particularly drying. “The CDC wants hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol or higher used nearly every time you have to encounter a high-touch surface in public,” Paula Bourelly, MD, a dermatologist at Olney Dermatology says. Therefore, people are “bound to have dry skin, evolving to eczema even in folks not traditionally suffering from eczema,” she adds. Naana Boakye, MD, owner of Bergen Dermatology and co-owner of Karité Shea Butter notes that when a soap’s pH is high (more basic), it causes your skin to be dry. “If you add a sanitizer after washing your hands with a basic soap, that can further promote excessive dryness and irritation which can lead to hand dermatitis,” says Dr. Boakye.

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to simultaneously keep your hands clean and free from cracking or breaking out into patches of eczema. First, Dr. Bourelly recommends that, when given the choice between sink washing and hand sanitizer, choose the sink and soap. “The soap you choose doesn’t have to be antibacterial, but if you elect to use one that is,” she notes, “there are a few in the market more moisturizing than others.”

Of course, there will be times you do need to cleanse with hand sanitizer, and in those instances be prepared to up your moisturizing game. “Creams are better than lotions, and ointments work the best, but understandably might need to be reserved for bedtime use,” due to excessive greasiness, Dr. Bourelly says. If your dryness or rash won’t go away after you make these types of adjustments, Elyse Love, MD, a dermatologist, notes that greater measures may be advised: “The rash may resolve with gentle skin-care practices, but it may also require a prescription medication to help it resolve.”

Here, five skin experts weigh in with their advice—and recommendations for favorite gentle hand lotions, sanitizers, and hand soaps—to help those with eczema and sensitive skin.

Hand Sanitizers

Dr. Boakye says that the key to finding the right hand sanitizer for eczema-prone and sensitive skin is to look for those that have the right amount of ethyl alcohol, which is 75%, but “also has moisturizing properties such as essential oils.” A personal favorite of Dr. Boakye’s is H2One, which she recently purchased for her office. Along with the required ethyl alcohol, its formula is hydrating, with aloe vera and essential oils. 

H2One Awakening Citrus Hand Sanitizer Gel



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Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash



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Selfē natural hand sanitizer gel “Be Calm”



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Hand Soaps

When it comes to hand soaps for sensitive hands, Dr. Bourelly recommends Cetaphil’s antibacterial soap for its gentle formula. Dr. Boakye opts for the Semina Soothing Bar, with its moisturizing ingredients, such as shea butter, and oils, including avocado and coconut. “My hands always feel hydrated after using it. It is also a great product for your body,” she says of the bar soap.