The whole world is dealing with the novel coronavirus disease, with countries implementing different strategies to help slow down the spread of the virus. One of the most common pieces of advice is constant and thorough hand washing.
Even before the pandemic, proper hand hygiene was already encouraged. But with the high risk now of passing on the virus through hand contact, washing your hands is a must, for as long as it takes to sing two “Happy Birthday” songs or 20 seconds.
However, as you get used to handwashing, you’ll have to worry about another problem: dry, cracked, and itchy skin on your hands. Ironically, because of over-washing that may result in cracked skin, you’re giving bacteria an entry point into your body. Of course, this doesn’t mean you must forego handwashing. Try doing the following, instead, to keep your hands clean but moisturized:
1. Use gentle hand soaps
If you’re using antibacterial soaps or alcohol-based sanitizers, these are probably the cause of dryness and cracks on your hands. The ingredients in these products are often harsh on your skin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that surfactants in soaps, as well as the friction created by rubbing your hands together, help remove the virus from the skin’s surface. So, mild and fragrance-free soaps are enough for proper handwashing without drying your skin.
2. Wash with lukewarm water
If you practice hair care, you know how it’s not advisable to subject your strands to hot water regularly. Experts suggest that you rinse your hair with cold water to lock in the moisture. A similar principle applies to your skin. Though you don’t have to rinse with cold water after washing your hands, you should avoid using hot water. Some believe hot water is effective at removing germs, but there’s no evidence that water temperature matters. Hot water may also strip your skin of its natural oils. Lukewarm water is just as effective and is more comfortable for the skin.
3. Moisturize properly
Lathering your hands with moisturizing products is a must to prevent them from drying. Do this in the same way that you lather moisturizer on your face or whitening body lotion on your arms and legs. You may use the same body lotion, or a hand lotion or moisturizing cream that’s designed to treat dry hands. Look for hand creams with occlusive ingredients, such as ceramides, because they do a better job of sealing in your skin’s moisture.
Opt for moisturizing products that aren’t too thick or greasy, as your skin absorbs them longer. Greasy products-and, therefore, oily skin-are a conduit for microbes. You don’t want that for your hands.
If you’re keeping up regular, proper handwashing, know that you’re doing a great job of helping prevent the spread