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Help your hands: how to combat dry skin from excess washing and sanitizing

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic this year has made people even more aware of their personal hygiene. It has also made us more aware of the role that it can play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. One thing that we have been advised to do by the World Health Organization is to wash our hands regularly. Ideally, we should be scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and applying liberal amounts of hand sanitizer to kill off any germs that could be transferred to others or yourself. All this washing and sanitizing, however, can come at a price. And for many, that price is dry skin. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s how to keep your hands happy and healthy, during this global outbreak and beyond.

 

Helping hands

We know that excess washing and sanitizing can result in dry skin. But what causes this? Most hand soaps contain ingredients that, when used frequently, can strip the skin of its natural oils. Also, the high alcoholic content in hand sanitizer can also be drying and disrupt the skin’s protective layer, the stratum corneum. Add some piping-hot water to the mix — which can also wash away the naturally-occurring oils that keep our skin healthy — and your epidermal barrier can become disrupted. The result? Anything from minor irritation and chapping to full-blown hand dermatitis. Ouch!

Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 by practising good hygiene is important, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of your skin health or comfort.

Here are some ways to ensure that your hard-working hands are sanitary and soothed after every wash:

Check the temperature Scalding-hot water might seem like the best way to get rid of germs, but there are potential consequences. It can strip your skin and increase the likelihood of irritation. Instead, opt for water that is cool or tepid. This will eliminate one of the culprits that can lead to dry skin.

Check the ingredients Instead of using a heavy-duty variant, opt for a hand soap that contains moisturizing properties. Then apply your hand sanitizer. Once it has dried, immediately follow up with a lotion that contains soothing and hydrating ingredients, such as emollients, occlusives, and humectants. These will work together to seal in moisture and keep your hands happy.

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