Dermatologists Offer Preventative and Reactive Care

Hand Sanitizer, Irritation, And When To Call A Dermatology Professional

How many times a day do you use hand sanitizer? If your hands are red, raw, or irritated from constant use, take a look at what you need to know about hand sanitizer and when to visit a dermatology practice.

Why Do You Have Hand Symptoms?

Whether your hands are cracked, itchy, red, blotchy, or have another similar symptom, you need to make sure hand sanitizer is the culprit behind this uncomfortable issue. If you regularly use a sanitizing product several times a day, it's likely that it's the cause behind your hand irritation. But if you also use hand soap, lotion, and other products, you may need a dermatologist's help to narrow down the possible suspects.

The dermatologist will ask you about hand product use and examine the area. They'll look for signs of irritation and try to pair what they see with common symptoms of hand sanitizer use or reactions from other products.

How Do Hand Sanitizers Irritate Skin?

Why would a sanitizer product cause redness, dryness, or other dermatological symptoms? Most antibacterial or antimicrobial hand sanitizer products are made with ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand sanitizer products should contain at least 60 percent alcohol to effectively reduce the spread of germs.

Alcohol can dry skin, leaving your hands red, rough, or flaky. Along with the alcohol content, added colors and scents can also irritate your skin—especially if you already have allergies to these types of chemical ingredients.

Can Hand Sanitizer Add to Existing Conditions?

Do you have eczema? If your skin is already sensitive, the addition of hand sanitizer can cause an eczema flare up. Before you choose or use a new sanitizer, talk to your dermatologist about the product. They may need to compare the ingredients in your would-be hand sanitizer to irritants you've had problems with in the past.

When Should You Contact a Dermatologist?

Whether you've already had skin irritations in the past, have an existing eczema diagnosis, or this is a new issue, you may need help from a professional. Contact a dermatologist if your skin is uncomfortable, the irritation or other symptoms won't resolve on their own, you're in pain, or you're not sure how to help your hands.

The dermatologist will need to examine your hands and take a health history. The specific treatment the doctor chooses depends on your individual needs. Treatment options may include over-the-counter moisturizers, a change in sanitizer product, or prescription medications.

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