Health And Wellness

20 Best Hand Sanitizers For Eczema That Won't Irritate Or Crack Skin

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Using hand sanitizer is important, especially when soap and clean water aren't readily available. But hand sanitizers can also be dicey, as many of them can potentially cause eczema flare-ups by their drying nature.

We all know by now the importance of using hand sanitizer, especially during a worldwide pandemic. During the beginning of the pandemic, everything was meme-worthy because of how quickly the world descended into chaos — it was a relief and blessing to even find a bottle of hand sanitizer in stores.

Thankfully, there are no more shortages of hand sanitizer, which is great for those with skin conditions like eczema. Unfortunately, people who have eczema can experience discomfort and pain from hand sanitizers and make the condition worsen.

Dr. Nikhil Dhingra, a board-certified dermatologist from Spring Street Dermatology, says, “When eczema is in full flare with redness, inflammation, and fissures in the skin, many sanitizers can even cause discomfort and stinging.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol; however, for people with sensitive skin, it's hard to find gentle options that are alcohol-free but also effective at preventing and killing germs. 

What is eczema?

Eczema is actually a pretty nonspecific term encompassing a number of skin conditions.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes areas of your skin to appear very red and feel itchy. Eczema is common in children, but you can get it at any age.

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Atopic dermatitis is long-lasting and can be chronic. What happens most often is a person with eczema's arm or leg will tend to flare periodically. The flare-ups may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever. Unfortunately, there isn't a found cure for atopic dermatitis.

"The overarching commonality is extremely dry or irritated skin (whether driven by a dysfunctional skin barrier or by outside agents like weather and products) that’s driven to inflammation (itching, redness, skin breaks, and extreme flaking). Some are born with an innate predisposition to eczema from childhood; others generate it by not taking care of their skin properly," adds Dr. Dhingra.

For eczema on hands, in particular, hand sanitizers can be irritating, especially if the skin is already inflamed or irritated. That being said, research shows frequent washing with soaps and water is more irritating, particularly if someone isn’t very diligent about moisturizing after washing.

Can you be allergic to hand sanitizer?

Some people can have an allergic reaction to hand sanitizers because of the alcohol content or or additional ingredients. Those with an allergy are allergic to the compounds that can sometimes be present in inactive ingredients in alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

That's why if you have sensitive skin or eczema, you should use an alcohol-free hand sanitizer, or one with the right amount of ethyl alcohol (75 percent); some have witch hazel, so you won't get bad reactions or irritations.

Other hand sanitizers can contain the antiseptic agent chlorhexidine, which is used for fragrance and color purposes. 

Does hand sanitizer irritate skin?

Using too much hand sanitizer daily can cause irritation to your hands and dry them out very fast. It can also irritate your skin even more if used after washing your hands.

If you use too much, you could cause your hands to itch, crack and could develop dermatitis, which can be caused by too much contact with the irritants in hand sanitizers.

What is the best hand sanitizer for sensitive skin?

Which hand sanitizer is best for sensitive skin? 

"Alcohol-free sanitizers are preferred because alcohol is drying and can sting irritated hands. But for those with dehydrated hands, I prefer even alcohol-containing sanitizers over-exuberant hand=washing," Dr. Dhingra recommends. “At the very least, keeping sanitizers to a fragrance-free formulation is critical.”

The key is to find alcohol-free sanitizers that won't dry or irritate skin. And these may be what you're looking for.

1. Touchland Power Mist Watermelon Hydrating Hand Sanitizer Spray

Power Mist might have just created the cutest and most versatile hand sanitizer that will fit easily in your back pocket or in your purse or wallet. Its pulverizer spray system helps get the hand sanitizer to evaporate more easily onto your hands and helps distribute a perfect amount. It's 99.99 percent free of any and almost all harmful, illness-causing germs, and is filled with natural hydrating ingredients to moisturize your hands.

Where to buy: Amazon, check prices and reviews

2. EO Botanical Lavender Hand Sanitizer Gel

Not sure if this is the choice for you? Says dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, "EO Botanical Gel's ingredients are safe: alcohol sourced from non-GMO sugar cane, vegetable glycerin, jojoba seed oil and dimethicone. The glycerin, dimethicone and jojoba seed oil help hydrate and moisturize the skin, combating the drying effects of alcohol. And the EO essential oil blend gives it its wonderful fragrance."

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

3. CleanSmart Skin and Hand Cleanser

“If, despite the glycerin, dimethicone and jojoba seed oil, the alcohol still stings or irritates the skin, I recommend CleanSmart Skin and Hand Cleanser, which is an alcohol-free antimicrobial hand sanitizer that uses hypochlorous acid technology to kill microbes. This would be the safest option for eczema-prone and other sensitive skin,” advises Dr. King.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

4. Germ-X Natural Vanilla Citrus Hand Sanitizer Spray

Germ-X is a well-known hand sanitizer brand, and what's great about this plant-based alcohol version is that it's formulated with aloe and vitamin E to help keep your hands soft. This little spray bottle is great for when you're on the go, and the bonus is that it smells amazing as well.

Where to buy: Instacart, prices vary

5. Dr. Bronner's Lavender Hand Sanitizer

Not all hand sanitizers need strong alcohol to kill germs because, thankfully for people with sensitive skin, there's a thing called ethyl alcohol. This hand sanitizer has that as well as water, organic lavender oil, and organic glycerin. It's perfect for on-the-go use and even as an air freshener, or, if you wanted to, a deodorant.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

6. All Good Organic Peppermint Hand Sanitizer Spray

This organic hand sanitizer with all-natural ingredients is good for washing hands and water-free bathing. No sink nearby? No problem! This is what you need to stay on top of germs.

Where to buyPureformulas, $3.99

7. Babyganics Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer

This alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizer is a must-have around babies. It's perfect for sensitive baby or adult skin, is alcohol-free, and kills 99.9 percent of germs with its moisturizing formula.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

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8. Germ-X Hand Sanitizer with Aloe

Though it doesn't have the vanilla scent, Germ-X hand sanitizer with moisturizing aloe kills 99.99 percent of harmful germs and bacteria within 15 seconds. It's best for dry or sensitive skin, and is made with aloe and vitamin E.

Where to buyWalmart, $3.83

9. R&R Lotion Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Lotion

R&R Sanitizing Lotion uses benzalkonium chloride, which is designed to kill 99.99 percent of germs on contact. What's great about this hand sanitizer is that it's a hand cream as well as a sanitizer that's alcohol-free. It contains sunflower and shea butter, along with vitamins, succulents, and botanicals.

Where to buy: Amazon, check prices and reviews

10. Grove Collaborative Hydrating Hand Sanitizer

This gel is fast-absorbing and eliminates 99.9 percent of germs for clean hands in a flash. It has coconut oil for hydration, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and is made of natural essential oils for a lovely blood orange scent.

Where to, $7.95

11. Puracy Natural Foaming Hand Sanitizer

Puracy Natural Foaming Hand Sanitizer is alcohol-free, non-toxic, and is an eco-friendly germ-killing alternative. This plant-based foaming hand sanitizer cleans messy hands on the move, while moisturizing the skin and avoiding a mess. Its gentle yet powerful formula is safe enough to use on babies' hands and effective enough for any adult to trust.

Where to buyPuracy, $9.16

12. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lavender Hand Sanitizer

This lavender-scented hand sanitizer has a soothing and tranquilizing smell. Along with aloe vera extract, it contains a special formula of moisturizers, essential oils, and other thoughtfully chosen ingredients that clean and freshen hands without leaving behind the smell of alcohol. It's paraben and cruelty-free as well.

Where to buyTarget, $3.49

13. Everyone Peppermint Citrus Hand Sanitizer Gel

Everyone hand sanitizers are very effective against common germs, but don't contain any of the usual harsh ingredients found in many similar products. This hand sanitizer is made with GMO-free alcohol and pure essential oils, while vegetable glycerin and vitamin E keep hands soft and smooth. 

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

RELATED: 16 Things You Do Every Single Day That Torture Your Skin

14. Hands2GO Alcohol-Free Natural Hand Sanitizer

Hands2GO is one of the best hand sanitizers because it has the shortest list of ingredients ever. It's formulated with only 6 ingredients: purified water, extracts of aloe vera, lavender, and chamomile, benzalkonium chloride, and DMDM hydantoin. It's alcohol-free, hypoallergenic, kills 99.99 percent of germs on contact, and acts as a 3-in-1 product for antibacterial, moisturizing, and antiseptic needs.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

15. Elyptol Natural Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer Spray

This hand sanitizer is an all-time favorite next-generation hospital-grade natural sanitizer suitable for high-frequency use. It's proven to kill an unprecedented 99.9999 percent of bacteria, fungi, and other common germs that cause disease. What's even better is that this hand sanitizer won't make your hands dry because it's infused with natural botanicals and Eucalyptus essential oil.

Where to buyElyptol, $3.99

16. Baby Bum Hand Sanitizer

Specifically formulated with naturally moisturizing ingredients, such as natural monoi coconut oil, aloe, fruit extracts, and alcohol derived from sugar cane, this sanitizer leaves skin soft and germ-free without drying. 

Where to buyTarget, $3.99

17. ArtNaturals Hand Sanitizer Gel

Not only does ArtNaturals have a cool aesthetic design, their natural formulas kill germs, bacteria, and fungus when applied, keeping you healthy in the most demanding environments. The nutrient-rich formula moisturizes and protects your hands rather than drying them out. What's also nice is the added moisturizing ingredients like jojoba oil and aloe vera.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

18. Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray

Honest Sanitizer Spray is a plant-based formula that's hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, and effectively kills germs and bacteria. It has a quick-drying spray formula that's made with a combination of naturally-derived glycerin and aloe to ensure your skin will feel soft and moisturized.

Where to buyHonest, $3.45

19. GermBloc Hand Sanitizer Lotion

Back off, germs! With GermBloc, you have the best of botH worlds as a hand sanitizer and lotion that's alcohol-free and contains 7 moisturizers, 2 vitamins, and 6 botanical extracts. It has a wonderful peppermint scent which is provided by peppermint extract, plus it has no strong chemical smell, and won't dry or chap hands for up to 4 hours.

Where to buyAmazon, check prices and reviews

20. Raw Sugar Coconut + Lemon Verbena Hand Sanitizer

Raw Sugar hand sanitizer includes special ingredients that are processed through ColdPress Technology and crafted with care in Southern California. Its coconut and lemon verbena product is only made with plant-derived extracts, which help make the sanitizer gentle and protect hands against the most common germs.

Where to buyTarget, $4.99

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.

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