Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Does hand sanitizer make your skin dry out?"

ZocdocAnswersDoes hand sanitizer make your skin dry out?


I have really dry skin on my hands and I think it is from using too much hand sanitizer? Can that stuff make your skin dry? How much is safe to use in one day?


Hand sanitizers are primarily composed of alcohol. The alcohol acts as an antimicrobial agent, and it also evaporates quickly so that you aren't left with slimy residue in your hands. However, this rapid evaporation does contribute to a drying effect that can be particularly bothersome, especially in the winter. Good hand hygiene can definitely help prevent illness (particularly during the winter cold and flu season!), but you also want to make sure that you aren't causing any skin problems with your hands. There is no 'unsafe' amount of hand sanitizer to use in one day, but as you are finding out, it can have negative side effects. As with any health concern, the best thing to do is see your primary care physician to go over your concerns. He or she can examine your skin and make sure that you don't have any underlying skin conditions that might be causing your dry skin instead of the alcohol hand sanitizer. In the meantime, you can also look for some hand creams or lotions to use after the hand sanitizer to prevent the skin from drying out. In addition, some hand sanitizers also contain additional ingredients to help protect the skin--you may benefit by switching which sanitizer you are using!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.