Frequent hand washing is a protective action we all must take to flatten the curve of COVID-19.
And while it is undoubtedly essential as part of daily hygiene, constant hand washing can quickly lead to cracked, rough, and sore hands. On the bright side, protective measures can be taken to help protect your hands from becoming too dry.
Harsh soaps and hard water are irritating to the skin, especially when used in excess. Like the face, the skin on our hands has a protective moisture barrier, which is susceptible to damage. Below, we’ve outlined some tips for keeping your hands healthy and protected while washing away the bacteria, dirt, and germs.
Use Lukewarm Water
Hot water temperatures may feel comforting when showering or washing but are extremely drying for the skin. To protect the skin from moisture loss, scrub your hands for 20 seconds under the lukewarm tap, and be sure to turn the water off with a paper towel or your elbow.
Pat or Air-Dry, and Follow with Emollient Cream
Using a microfiber or cotton towel, gently pat the hands to remove any excess water. Alternatively, you may wait a few moments to air dry to allow excess water to soak back into the skin.
Once hands are dry, protect them with a rich moisturizing cream such as EltaMD So Silky Hand Cream, which contains ceramides and fatty acids to prevent water loss. For enhanced protection, you may also choose to use a petroleum-jelly skin protectant, which acts like a seal from the harsh water and soaps.
Use Hand Sanitizer Sparingly
Sanitizers are superb for convenient cleansing on-the-go, but many contain harsh alcohols that may be severely drying to the skin. The CDC recommends using sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol. Carrying a small tube of hand cream to apply immediately following the hand sanitizer will help prevent your skin from becoming too dry.
Fun fact - sanitizers with an alcohol content of 90% evaporate too quickly to sanitize.
When choosing a moisturizer or hand cream, pleasant and attractive scents are tempting to reach for. Unfortunately, many of these may do more harm than good for hand health, and selecting a fragrance and dye-free moisturizer will pay off in the long term.
For optimal health, it is extremely important to protect yourself from infection and disease by washing your hands as frequently as you must. Following the tips we’ve outlined, you will be able to keep your hands feeling soft and moisturized. Please note that it is important not to immediately trust everything you read online when it comes to cleanliness and hygienic procedures. The CDC outlines a few tips and precautions on the adjacent infographic, stating that applying lotions to the hands after washing does not negate the hand washing efforts. The use of hand sanitizers does not make one more susceptible to viruses and infection.