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Hand Dermatitis

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Mon, Oct 14, 2019

Busy hands get into trouble. Most hand dermatitis is due to contact with harsh soaps and chemicals that strip natural skin oils and lead to dry, itchy, painful hand skin. Some people are also born with a propensity for a different type of hand dermatitis; this is because their immune system causes small blisters and breaks in the hand skin spontaneously. Once the skin barrier is broken by this, then contact with harsh soaps and chemicals compounds the rash and suffering.

Treatment of hand dermatitis involves using only gentle, non-drying soaps for hand washing and frequent use of hand creams.

There are two functional types of hand creams for healing hand dermatitis. The first is a hydrating AND protecting cream for daily use. In my opinion, this cream needs to be non-greasy and easy to live with on your hands. The second is a deeply hydrating cream that may be greasy and needs to be applied liberally. For this reason, wearing cotton gloves to keep the cream on your hands (and off your things) is essential!

All hand creams work best when applied RIGHT AFTER water contact. Therefore, keeping a tube of hand cream at your desk to apply to your dry hands is not going to work. You need your hand cream near your sink and to apply it right after you wash your hands – and the more often, the better until the hand skin is healed. Also, wear rubber gloves when you plan to put sensitive hand skin into harsh solvents like dish soap or cleaning solutions.