Handwashing and hand sanitizers making your skin dry? Here are five simple tips to make your hands soft and healthy again
Cracks in your skin can become an easy entry point for bacteria and virus - so it’s in your best interest to take hand-care more seriously at this time.
Ever since we found out about COVID-19, the one directive we've been getting on repeat is to wash hands properly. So before we eat, when we come back home, every time we touch an outdoor or office doorknob, door or railing, before we cook, when we go to the toilet, after playing with a pet, we wash our hands.
That makes for a lot of handwashing. And excessive handwashing can make your hands extremely dry and even cracked. This happens because when you wash your hands with soap, it doesn’t only remove dirt and germs from your skin but also the natural oils that keep your skin moisturized. Cracks in your skin can also become an easy entry point for bacteria and virus - so it’s in your best interest to take hand-care more seriously at this time.
The alternative for handwashing is using a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol. But even alcohol has a drying effect on the skin so you’re still left with the same problem.
Since hand hygiene is a priority right now, there can be no compromise there - here are a few things you can keep in mind to avoid dry and cracked hands despite all the handwashing.
1. The right soap
Use only as much soap as you need to cover your hands, not more. More soap does not equal better cleaning. Ensure that your soap is mild and does not contain any fragrance. Unnecessary chemicals will make the soap harsher than it needs to be on your skin. Since you’re on lockdown, choose to wash your hands instead of using an alcohol rub. Save hand sanitizers for when you need to step out.
2. Pat dry
Instead of rubbing your hands thoroughly with a towel, only pat dry them or, if possible, leave them to dry naturally. Especially don’t use a hand dryer as all that dry air will make the situation worse for your skin.
Moisturize immediately after washing your hands. A cream applied on dry hands isn’t of much help - moisturizer acts as a protective layer to keep the moisture in, not add to it. After washing, your hand still have some moisture. This is the perfect time to apply thick hand cream and rub it gently onto your palm, between the fingers, the back of your hand, the surface of your nails and your wrists.
4. Wear gloves
Washing the dishes and clothes can expose your hands to water and chemicals for an extended period of time. But there is an easy solution here - wear gloves while you do these tasks. If you have utility gloves, that’s best. If not, you can make do with any other kind - for example, the ones you get in a box of hair colour.
5. Extra nourishment
If you have a hand mask handy, that’s great and you can put it on for 30 minutes or as per the instructions every other day. If not, you can make your own at home. Pick a time when you won’t be needing your hands (like while watching a movie) and put on whichever oil you have handy. Coconut oil is ideal as it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can also use fresh aloe vera gel occasionally. Wash after 15-30 minutes. If you can’t find the time to do this, apply hand cream or vaseline at night before bed and put on any gloves to ensure that your skin soaks as much of it as possible.
For more tips, read our article on The Right Way To Wash Your Hands To Avoid Coronavirus Infection.
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