top of page

Hands irritaded by a regular washing?

Washing hands is a very important barrier gesture, especially during this pandemic period. This gesture can even saves lives as the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals in its program "Clean care is safer care".

However, too frequent hand washing, whether with soap or an alcohol-based product, can cause skin irritations that will manifest by cracks, dry skin or dermatitis (1).

Why is the skin irritated?

The skin is like a “protective glove” that protects our body from external agents and prevents water loss. On the surface of the epidermis and directly in contact with the outside, we have the stratum corneum, a layer composed of dead cells which secretes a waterproofing lipid (2). This stratum corneum with its hydrolipidic film plays a fundamental role since it represents the first barrier against external agents.

By using in excess soap and detergents, we attack the stratum corneum which breaks and makes the skin barrier fragile (3). Other hand hygiene practices also increase the risk of skin irritation, such as (4)  :

  • Regular hand washing with soap and water, immediately before or after the use of alcohol-based product

  • Putting gloves on wet hands

  • The use of hot water for hand washing

  • The practice of hand hygiene outside the scope of the indications

  • The use of gloves outside the scope of the indications

What can we do against these irritations?


In order to prevent the development of skin lesions, the hand hygiene practices mentioned above should be avoided. However, not all risk factors for irritation can be removed since a regular hand washing is necessary, especially during this pandemic period. Then, it is recommended to regularly apply a protective hand cream or ointment (4). But how to choose it?


When the skin is irritated, the main challenge is to repair the stratum corneum. For thisvitamin A is decisive. Also called retinol or retinoid derivative, this vitamin is a lipophilic molecule that has the ability to get through cells membranes. Once inside the cells, it will bind to specific receptors and stimulate gene expression, which results in cells proliferations and differentiations.

In other words, applying a vitamin A-based cream or ointment on an irritated skin will allow the multiplication of cells and therefore the regeneration of the skin. Retinol will help the compacting of the stratum corneum and the thickening of stratum granulosum.

In conclusion, a vitamin A-based cream or ointment will have a repairing and protective effect on your hands damaged by too frequent wishing (5).

In case of skin irritation, PHARMA développement manufactures and commercializes

vitamin A-based products.

Publication date: April 2020


1. Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé. “La place de l’hygiène des mains et des produits hydro-alcooliques dans la prévention de la transmission des infections”

2. Leem. “Maladies de Peau”

3. PasseportSanté. Dossier “Est-il vraiment indispensable de se laver tous les jours” – Page “Se laver trop souvent : quelles conséquences pour la peau ?”

4. OMS. “Hygiène des Mains : Manuel Technique de Référence” – “Partie IV.2 : Des mains soignées”

5. Cosmetic Medicine. “Cosmeceuticals: The Evidence Behind the Retinoids”

bottom of page