Why we need to be looking after our hands!
How To Care For Dry Hands After Washing Them So Much
We are all washing our hands and using hand sanitizer numerous times a day. I'm sure most of us are now suffering from excessive dryness — and, in some cases, even sore, cracked, and weeping skin. As well as being irritating and painful, our dry cracked hands could actually be making us sick! To protect our health we must protect our hands.
What causes dry hands and irritation?
Repeated use of soaps, detergents, and alcohol gel are a common and important cause of what is known as irritant contact dermatitis and eczema. These products can damage proteins in the protective upper layer of our epidermis and cause changes in the fats in our skin. That protective layer is "essential to normal skin function," which means skin will grow irritated if the barrier is disturbed. The hands can become red, rough, scaly, dry, cracked, and fissured (where small cuts appear in the skin). You may feel the hands have a burning or tingling sensation or feel itchy and irritated.In severe cases, the skin may become blistered, painful, and form crusts. This problem can develop in anyone who is frequently washing their hands, which is probably all of us right now!
Washing our hands could get us sick!
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the transmission of infections. However, when the protective skin barrier is damaged, the skin is at risk for developing an infection. And more worringly you could pick up germs more easily. With the Corona Virus lasting for up to three days on plastic and steel surface we need to be taking every precaution.
5 Tips to Keep Your Skin Healthy While Washing Your Hands Often.
1. Wash with warm water
Very hot water will dry out the skin by stripping its natural oils. And it doesn't improve efficacy. Lukewarm water with plenty of soap for 20 seconds is whats recommended. When drying your hands, blot, don’t wipe to prevent micro-abrasions on the skin.
2. Use Moisterising Soap.
Many soaps can dry out the skin especially soap bars.The binders that hold the soap together tend to have a high pH which can cause dryness. Liquid soap tends to be less drying and look out for ones that include ingredients such as lanolin and glycerin. If your hands are already irritated it's best to stay away from fragence soaps. Fragences can potentially worsen dermatitis so if it smells good.. you probably want to stay away from it.
3. Apply moisteriser.
Pretty obvious but prevention is better than cure so if your hands are just dry, get into a habit of moisterising them after every time you wash them! Your hands will thank you! When water isn’t sealed into the skin after washing, it can dry out your hand. The reason is that water acts like a magnet and it will attract water out from the deepest layers of the skin and evaporate into the dry air. The result is even tighter, drier skin.
4. Use a specialised hand cream or balm.
If your hands have become raw and cracked you might need some stronger stuff. There are alot of specialised hand creams out there (see below for a few suggestions). Many of these include ingredients like manuka honey which is anti bacterial, oats which is soothing and great for anti itiching.
If you suffer from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis you may need to get a prescriptive cream, always check with your doctor and your pharmacist will also be able to recommend something suitable.
5. Wear Gloves
Wear gloves if you're cleaning your home or doing dishes to protect the hands from irritants or chemicals. Try not to get the hands wet or irritated any more times than is absolutely necessary. Wearing gloves on cold, windy days can also keep the wind from further damaging dry skin.
For a hand treatment, soak your hands in warm water for 5 minutes, apply moisteriser then wear gloves (ideally cotten for breathability) for one to two hours. Perfect to do in front of the telly! For an intensive treatment, apply a thick layer of cream and keep the gloves on overnight. FYI if you wear the gloves over night they do need to be cotton not wool or leather. They could end up irritating your hands even more!
Of course, all things considered, dry skin is a small price to pay for a crucial health and safety measure!
Please note this post is only a guide and is written to the best of my knowledge. Please always follow WHO guidelines and stay in and stay safe.