I recently developed dyshidrosis, which makes my palms look disgusting. So I don't want to show my hands to anybody to see.

People often do not looking at the hands when shaking, and this eczema does not spread from person to person. However, if they do, it would be very award whatever I explain. So I would like to avoid shaking hands as much as possible.

I'm looking for a way to avoid shaking hands. Ideally, they should forget about the needs of shaking my hands. I'm in the US, my job requires me to have meetings with strangers once a week.


I enjoy meeting with people, and have no problem with shaking hands, fist bump, high five or whatever. This eczema is short term, and I want to start shaking hands again when it is over. I don't want to develop a reputation of avoiding shaking hands. Moreover, I'm Asian and atheist.

Thanks @EmC for pointing out, this question is the closest to mine, avoid shaking hands because of a condition. But the difference is that clammy hands do not look disgusting. I have no problem shaking hands as long as people do not look at my hands. The other question is not very related to mine, as I said, I want to start shaking hands again when my eczema is gone.

  • Does your job or company allow any flexibility on not shaking hands based on religious or psychological requirements? If so, having an alternative to shaking hands might not be considered too unusual.
    – user8671
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 7:06

3 Answers 3


If you are just trying to avoid shaking hands for a brief period, I don't think there is any need for you to tell the other party that you'd rather not shake hands. You don't need to explain why or you don't need to let them know you'd rather not shake hands. All you need to do is not shake hands.

The most important thing about hand shaking and initiating a hand shake is your body language. There are several cues you can read and understand if someone is trying to shake your hands. A little lean forward, an empty and unoccupied right hand, the distance between the two parties, to name a few. We can dig into these three in particular to demonstrate ways of avoiding the handshake:

  1. Body language: Stand up straight. Do not budge or twitch when being introduced to someone. Do not make them feel like you are getting ready to do something with your body. When I meet someone new, I observe if they are looking forward to a handshake or if they are trying to shake my hand. If they don't seem like they are, I completely avoid offering my hand and just do a lil wave and say "Hi how are you" with a big smile on my face. Project that image when meeting someone new.
  2. Empty and unoccupied hand: Have you considered maybe holding a coffee mug or a piece of paper or some "report" in your right hand? Make it seem like it is a lot of work to have to offer them your hand? I've always found myself waving to people who are holding something. I get that some people still offer their hand and expect you to make room in your right hand! But it reduces the chances of you having to slightly.
  3. Distance between the two parties: Depending upon how close a party is, I may or may not offer my hand. If you stand far enough away, they usually would just wave. Make yourself just slightly inaccessible. Be sure not to completely cover yourself behind someone, but be the second in line, instead of right next to them.

A few other situations where I see myself not offering a handshake to:

  1. Enthusiasm: This is the weirdest one I've seen. If someone walks up to me enthusiastically and starts talking the minute I see them, it becomes so much more casual so much faster that there does not seem to be a need for a formal handshake. Something like this:

    The minute you see a new party, start talking to them AS YOU WALK UP TO THEM like so:
    You: Hey you must be "insert name", nice to meet you.
    Then just lead the way and walk them to wherever you need to go.

  2. In a group setting, try to stand in the end of the group, the farthest away from the party being met. People usually stop shaking hands after the 3rd or 4th person.

  3. In a one-on-one setting with a party that you've already had contact with, try to talk about something else instead of the usual "hey nice to meet you". Not something really obscure or abstract, but something that rings a bell in the party's head that "oh yeah this is that guy". A continuing joke maybe. A reference to something you've once told them. Something like this:

    You: See, I told you I am a real person!! Laugh How are you doing today person name, was the drive OK for you?

Bottomline, just distract them from the hand shake by your body language. Make them feel like there was no need for one at all.

I hope this helps you and I hope your eczema goes away quickly! My wife is going through contact dermatitis on both her hands and it does not seem fun.


If you believe that this is not something that will last a long time, then a fairly appropriate response to a request for a handshake is "I apologize, I was a bit sick, so I'm being careful."

It's generally understood that people may take extra care not to get others around them sick, and avoiding handshakes is a very common part of that. Say it casually and positively, carry on with the conversation, and they aren't likely to ask further questions. If you suspect that they may see your condition, you may need to offer a more pointed explanation, such as "I have a temporary hand rash." A temporary rash may be anything. It could be a burn or poison ivy, which would hurt or itch if you shook hands. You could even give them that white lie - "sorry, handled some poison ivy recently," although I'm guessing that won't be necessary.


It is perfectly polite to state upfront that you will not shake hands. If done pleasantly just before, or as people step up to do so it will be all the explanation you need. You may add "I'm very pleased to meet you. I'm afraid I will not shake hands." and proceed from there. It might look odd for you to be juggling mugs or bandages in an effort to provide a practical excuse. Be pleasant and interested in them but direct and firm, and even private about your own needs and preferences.

Edit based on comment; My astronomy advisor had a skin condition that left his hands raw on a regular basis. Whenever he met for the first time with students or parents he would welcome them and politely add, "I'll not shake hands but I'm glad you came by." I cannot recall anyone being put off by his honest, upfront behavior.

  • Can you tell us more about why you think this is a good idea? Answers on Interpersonal Skills SE need to be well-justified and backed up with either evidence or personal experience or well-elaborated logic that shows the OP that this is a good idea. See this meta post for more information on how to write a good answer.
    – ElizB
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 18:19

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