Why Does Washing My Hands Make Them Dry? | Better Life

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May 09, 2022

Why Does Washing My Hands Make Them Dry?

These days, it's more important than ever to keep your hands clean and germ-free. Washing your hands helps to reduce the spread of infections and eliminates germs, meaning that your household is more likely to stay clean and free of bothersome illnesses. It can also help to promote food safety when you are cooking. However, washing your hands frequently can lead to a few inconveniences. In particular, you might find that you start to suffer dry hands.

Dry, cracking skin on your hands can be uncomfortable and even painful. While dry hands can be caused by a variety of environmental conditions, washing them frequently can also result in increased dryness. Fortunately, you don't have to struggle with dry hands for long. Learn more what causes dry hands as well as some tips to combat dryness, you will be well on your way to defeating dry, itchy skin.

dry hands with lotion on them spelling out help

Why are my hands so dry?

There are a variety of reasons why you could be dealing with dry hands. Here are some of the most common causes of dry, itchy skin on your hands:

  • Weather. During the colder months, it's common for your skin to become dry, in response to the changing climate. 
  • A medical condition. Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, can make a person more susceptible to developing dry hands, according to Healthline. Conditions like eczema are characterized by dry, patchy flakes on the surface of the skin, as well as skin inflammation and peeling.
  • Working conditions. If you work in an environment that requires you to use hand sanitizer on a frequent basis, you could struggle with dry hands. In addition, if you are exposed to certain chemicals at your workplace, it could have an effect on your skin.
  • Frequent handwashing and sanitization. Washing your hands on a regular basis could lead to dry hands. If you are someone who works in the healthcare or service industry, you could be especially susceptible to dry hands, since most service and health professionals are required to wash their hands before and after contact with a patient or guest.

Even if you use hand sanitizer in between washings, if you are washing your hands five or more times per day, you could definitely be dealing with the frustrating effects of dry hands. 

person drying off their dry hands in the bathroom

Why does washing my hands make them dry?

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 caused health experts around the world to recommend frequent handwashing and sanitization in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. Handwashing has long been the first line of defense against illness and germs, but over the past several years, many people have been washing their hands more than ever before - and many are now struggling with dry hands as a result.

According to the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, washing your hands can sap the skin of the natural lipids that provide moisture, leading your skin to become dry and brittle over time. Some soaps are more drying than others, so if you are using a soap that is not designed for use on human skin, such as dish soap or even laundry soap, your symptoms could be exacerbated.

How To Wash Your Hands Without Drying Them Out

How To Wash Your Hands Without Drying Them Out

You can't stop washing your hands, but you want to curb the frustrating symptom of dry hands - fortunately, you do have some options. There are a few different ways to help improve your dry hands while still preventing the spread of illnesses and germs. Here are some ways to wash your hands without drying them out:

1. Wash Your hands with Lukewarm Water

According to Healthline, it is best to use lukewarm water when washing your hands, rather than hot, especially if you are already struggling with dry hands. This is due to the fact that hot water tends to strip your hands of the oils that your skin needs to become waterproof. To wash your hands effectively while curbing the feeling of dry, uncomfortable hands, simply use lukewarm water and plenty of soap, washing thoroughly for about 20 seconds. 

2. Use a Gentle Soap

The right soap can make all the difference in your hand-washing routine. It's best to use a hypoallergenic soap that is gentle on the skin and that doesn't dry out the hands. Natural ingredients like aloe and Vitamin E will soothe your skin and keep it from drying out. Soaps with a creamy consistency are usually a good option, as are soaps that can be used on the face and body. To avoid dry hands, stay well away from bar soaps, as well as dish soap, and any sort of cleanser that isn't designed to be used on the skin. 

3. Blot Your Hands Dry

After you have washed your hands thoroughly with lukewarm water and gentle soap, try softly blotting your hands on a paper towel. By patting your hands dry, you will reduce the risk of tiny micro-abrasions on your skin. These microscopic tears can only make your skin dryer. It is important to make sure that your hands are thoroughly dry before stepping away from the sink. According to The Conversation, excessive moisture and soap residue that is trapped on the skin can cause irritation and breakdown of the skin's natural moisture barrier. 

Ways To Moisturize Your Hands Without Lotion

5 Ways To Moisturize Your Hands Without Lotion

While many people might choose to combat the effects of dry hands with moisturizer, it isn't realistic for everyone to slather on moisturizer after finishing their hand-washing ritual. Notably, if you have to return to work immediately after washing your hands, putting on moisturizer can make a mess. You might even be wondering how to moisturize hands without lotion. Here are a few alternatives to moisturizers that can help keep your hands (and the rest of your skin) soft and supple all year round.

  • Wear gloves. If it is feasible for you, wearing gloves is a great way to protect your skin's moisture barrier. Gloves lock in moisture, keeping your skin hydrated as well as protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. If you are cleaning your home or workplace, wearing gloves can also keep your hands well away from harmful chemicals and cleaners. 
  • Drink enough water. Staying properly hydrated is one of the very best ways to keep your skin from getting dry, cracked, and itchy. In fact, dry skin is one of the main signs of dehydration, and if your body is dehydrated, you won't be able to produce the natural moisturizers that you need in order to keep your skin healthy. Try keeping a large refillable bottle of water next to your desk or workstation throughout the day, and take a drink of water whenever you look at the bottle. 
  •  Get enough sleep. Getting the proper amount of sleep is critical for your overall wellness, but it is especially important when it comes to healthy skin. Sleep allows the body to properly replenish, so if you aren't getting an adequate amount of sleep at night, you could see your dry hands get worse. To enhance your sleep quality, turn off electronics about an hour before bedtime, utilize aromatherapy, and make sure that your bedroom is a calm, comforting sanctuary, with lots of soft blankets and pillows. 
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. While there's nothing wrong with ingesting your usual morning cup of coffee, keep in mind that excessive caffeine consumption can lead to dehydration and dry skin. According to Marie Claire, drinking a lot of caffeine can cause you to urinate more frequently, which in turn can cause some dehydration symptoms - although in most healthy individuals, the effects will be very mild. If you suspect that you are drinking too much coffee and that it is contributing to your dry hands, try cutting back just a bit and see if it makes a difference. 
  • Use a humidifier in your home. Dry hands can be especially annoying in the winter when cold air exacerbates dry skin symptoms. To combat the effects of dry air caused by fluctuating temperatures, you could try investing in a humidifier. Humidifiers work by increasing the humidity of your surroundings, thereby reducing the amount of dry air in the immediate atmosphere. The Mayo Clinic notes that a humidifier can actually help with a host of minor health symptoms, from dry skin and bloody noses to irritated sinuses. Just be sure to clean your humidifier on a regular basis, however, as dirty humidifiers can be virtual breeding grounds for bacteria and mold. 

woman using better life's hand and body soap to help prevent dry hands

Upgrade Your Hand-Washing Routine With Natural Cleaning Products

Dry hands can be frustrating and uncomfortable, especially with warmer weather rapidly approaching and more opportunities than ever to show them off to friends and family. However, utilize these tips for keeping your hands moisturized and flake-free, and soon, your dry hands will be a thing of the past. Once you start making the switch to natural, hypoallergenic hand soaps, you will want to upgrade your entire home cleaning routine.

Check out our website to learn more about our natural, safe cleaning and home goods, and check out our blog to learn more about cleaning tips and tricks, eco-friendly living, and more!