Do hand disinfectants dry out the skin?

Pure alcohols can slightly dry out the skin 1. Well-formulated hand disinfectants, however, contain caring substances that prevent the skin from drying out even during intensive use 2, 3. In addition, alcohol-based hand disinfectants do not affect the natural hydrolipid film on the skin.


When washing hands, lipids are removed from the skin. Thus, washing hands dries out the skin significantly more. Especially in winter, the skin can feel dry even with frequent hand disinfection, which is primarily related to the season and the temperature. In this case, hands should be creamed regularly.

1 Löffler Het al. (2007) How irritant is alcohol? Br J Dermatol 157(1):74-81.
2 Kramer Aet al. (2002) Clinical double-blind trial on the dermal tolerance and user acceptability of six alcohol-based hand disinfectants for hygienic hand disinfection. J Hosp Infect 51(2):114-120.
3 Kampf Get al. (2005) Emollients in a propanol-based hand rub can significantly decrease irritant contact dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis 53:344-349

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