Protecting Your Hands During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By now you may have seen the effects of repeated handwashing, and they’re not pretty.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Then there’s also all the cleaning you’re doing to disinfect the surfaces in your home.

So much handwashing can dry out your skin by removing its protective layer of oil. Extreme dryness can lead to cracks in the skin, which can increase the risk of infection.


To combat the dryness safely, follow these tips.

Cover up your hands. Whenever possible, wear gloves when you clean to avoid exposing your hands to chemicals and water if you don’t need to.

Use soaps with safer ingredients. Consult EWG VERIFIED to find 65 hand soaps that are free from EWG’s chemicals of concern and meet our strictest standards for health and transparency.

Inventory your cleaners and disinfectants and look for those that are effective yet less toxic. EWG has cross-referenced cleaners the CDC recommends to combat coronavirus against our Guide to Healthy Cleaning, and you can find those products here.

Moisturize frequently. Twenty-two hand creams are EWG VERIFIED™, meaning they are free from EWG’s chemicals of concern, fully transparent regarding their ingredients and made with good manufacturing practices. Choose a tube over a tub if you can to help to reduce the risk of contamination, and stash enough tubes around so you can conveniently apply the moisturizer after you wash your hands.

Protect from sun damage. In many states and cities, one of just two reasons you’re permitted to leave home right now is to go for a walk, which means it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to your hands (and other exposed skin, too). EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens includes hundreds of sunscreens and moisturizers with SPF that would be good options.

Check your hand sanitizer. If you don’t have a sink nearby, use hand sanitizer, but make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol and rub hands together vigorously for 20 seconds after applying it. Avoid sanitizers and soaps that contain fragrance, which can include a number of potentially allergenic and endocrine-disrupting mystery ingredients.

Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This material is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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