The coronavirus pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in handwashing and those wearing gloves. Though frequent hand washing is always necessary for health and safety, it does have one unpleasant side effect. Your hands get dry, which can look and feel unpleasant. Repeated hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer strips the natural oils from the skin, resulting in drying and cracking. 

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are particularly prone to dry skin on the hands. They wash their hands and use hand sanitizer many times a day, and they wear latex gloves, which can also damage the skin’s ability to produce enough natural oils. Dishwashers, hairstylists, and production workers are also more prone to dry hands because their hands are repeatedly exposed to gloves, chemicals, and soaps.

Underlying health conditions such as diabetes or lupus can restrict blood flow to the extremities and cause dry hands. Skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause dry skin on the hands and other areas of the body, and also cause the skin to peel and crack. Aging also contributes to problems with dry skin.  Skin naturally loses its protective oils as we age, so the older we get, the more prone we are to dry, cracked skin on the hands.

How can gloves damage the skin?

Wearing latex gloves is a normal part of life for those in the medical field, and with the global pandemic, more people are wearing them to protect from the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the use of gloves can have a damaging effect on the hands.

Skin damage and irritation occur from prolonged exposure to the restrictive, sweaty environment produced by wearing gloves. Moisture on the skin strips away the natural barriers of the skin like essential lipids. Without a healthy natural barrier, the skin is more vulnerable to harmful irritants that can thrive in a warm, moist environment. Compromised skin can lead to problems like chronic