Washing our hands regularly is essential to preventing the spread of this virus but it can also dry and irritate the skin on your hands
As this pandemic continues to persist, it is essential to carry on regularly washing hands and using alcohol hand sanitisers. Even though cases are decreasing here in the UK, it is vital to keep these safety measures, especially as lockdown is eased, in order to prevent another peak.
Soap molecules have two different sections, the hydrophilic head (likes water) and the hydrophobic tail (binds to oil). When you wash your hands, the soap molecules join together forming a bubble around the grease on your skin with the hydrophobic tails pointing inwards and the hydrophilic heads pointing out towards the water. This is good for removing the dirt on your skin as well as getting rid of the bacteria and virus particles that could be on there waiting to infect someone.
The skin secretes sebum, natural oils that help to prevent your skin from drying out. When you wash your hands, these oils will also be washed off, which can cause you hands to become dry, sore or irritated.
Frequent hand washing can cause contact dermatitis, which develops as a result of exposure to an irritant such as soap.
When the skin is damaged like this, it can become less effective as a barrier to prevent infection so although it is important to wash your hands, it is also important to look after your hands after you've washed them.
Use gloves while washing up.
Washing up liquid or dish detergent can be very harsh on the skin as it is designed to be able to remove thick layers of grease on dishes. The chemicals in washing up liquid are not designed to be used to wash hands so they can cause irritation. It is therefore important to wear gloves whilst washing up.
Rubber washing up gloves should only be used for a short period of time as they are not breathable, which can cause a build-up of sweat which can cause worsen the irritation.
Use soap designed for dry hands.
Find a mild, fragrance-free soap. Like soap, perfumes used as a fragrance can be irritating and cause contact dermatitis so important to make sure that the hand wash you use does not contain any fragrance to reduce irritation as much as possible. It would be best if you looked for a soap designed specifically for dry hands which will include ingredients to moisturise the skin and prevent soreness.
Dry your hands thoroughly
After washing your hands for 30 seconds, it is crucial to make sure you properly dry your hands. If you don't dry them, the water will have a drying effect as it will strip the skins natural oil when it evaporates. Not drying your hands can also provide a good environment for bacteria to multiply
The best way to dry hands is to use a fragrance-free moisturising cream. You should use a moisturising cream every time you wash and dry your hands. You can also carry travel size cream with you to use after using hand sanitiser (make sure you wait for it to dry before using the cream).
What moisturisers do we recommend to prevent/treat dry skin:
The Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream can restore the skin's barrier and soothe itching sensations caused by skin dryness as well as preserving the skin flora (good bacteria on the skin that can prevent bad bacteria and reduce infections). Most other moisturisers and skincare products contain preservatives which are often alcohol-based which will dry out the skin further. These can irritate dry skin and eczema. This cream does not contain any preservatives and is kept fresh by a unique nozzle that prevents air from getting inside the tube.
The CeraVe Moisturising Cream provides all-day hydration for dry skin and is specifically formulated to moisturise sensitive skin that is dry. It moisturises the protective skin barrier of the hands. It is formulated with 3 essential ceramides (lipids naturally produced by the skin) & hyaluronic acid, this cream supports the skin barrier and moisture. As with the Avene XeraCalm, the CeraVe Moisturising Cream is not formulated with fragrances so it is perfect for dry skin.
Sukin is a natural, vegan skincare brand. The Hydrating Day Cream contains a powerful blend of Rosehip Oil infused with antioxidant-rich Pomegranate to help relieve dehydrated skin. Infused with the Australian Indigenous super-fruit Kakadu Plum which is naturally rich in Vitamin C, this rich cream encourages skin radiance, while a generous blend of active botanicals help improve the texture of the skin and leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated.