Hand sanitizer is still in high demand as COVID-19 continues to affect the world. Created in the 1990s as a quick and convenient alternative to soap and water, hand sanitizer is often seen as the best method to ward off any germ that you may come into contact with. It is easy to use, it can be kept in small containers that are easy to carry around with you, and you can share it with those near you without catching their germs in return. Even though hand sanitizer has been used at an incredibly high rate in 2020, its actual effectiveness is still being debated. Yet, whether it works as well as people want it to, hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol to kill bacteria on the skin. While alcohol is an effective agent for killing bacteria, it can be incredibly damaging to the skin.
If you are suffering from peeling skin, cracked hands, or any type of discomfort from using hand sanitizer, you are not alone. Harsh ingredients such as isopropyl, ethanol, and n-propanol alcohol can be very damaging. These ingredients do the job of killing bacteria, but at a cost. These ingredients deplete the skin of acid mantle and oil – both of which are necessary for the generation of cell hydration. When the cells of the skin are not able to hydrate themselves sufficiently, they increase your chance of developing contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to a substance. This rash is not contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable. If you are experiencing contact dermatitis from the overuse of hand sanitizer, it is important that you reevaluate how you are protecting yourself from germs.
Warm water and anti-bacterial soap are not only more effective than hand sanitizer, but they are also gentler on your skin. Anti-bacterial soap does not strip the skin’s oils as quickly and is a better option to use routinely.
If you continue to use hand sanitizer, you need to hydrate your skin by frequently applying a skin moisturizer throughout the day. If you have sensitive skin, you will want to choose a fragrance-free lotion or hypoallergenic cream so that you do not add another layer of irritant to your skin.
At Kayal Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists, we are here for all of your skincare needs. If hand sanitizer is ruining your skin, contact our practice for an appointment.