Shoshana Eisener, Pharmacist specialising in skincare and founder of QED Skincare shares how to care for our very dry and over-washed hands...
So we are being told that the most important thing to do right now is to wash our hands, thoroughly and often. On top of that, we are to use Hand sanitiser when we are out and about. Unfortunately, both of these acts are extremely drying to hands and in particular for sensitive skin, can cause your skin to become flaky, broken and potentially painful. However, we do need to protect our hands, so they can protect us.
HAND WASHING STRIPS YOUR HANDS OF IT'S NATURAL OILS
The skin's function is highly complex but it's most obvious role is as a barrier. The skin's oily protective layer helps seal in moisture, so we don't dehydrate.
Each time you wash your hands you ARE DEFINITELY breaking down the fatty protective layer of your skin (stripping it of its natural oils). Hot water, hand sanitizers and harsh antibacterial soaps speed up this process which is why your hands are probably feeling dry, tight and perhaps a little itchy at the moment.
For those with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis etc, this process of constant hand washing will cause intense dryness, itchiness and often result in cracked skin which can actually increase your risk of infection (as it potentially provides an entry point for the virus to invade)
So although we all need to be very diligent about handwashing and sanitation, there are things we can do to ensure you protect your skin and for those with particularly sensitive skin, avoid any further irritation and possible infection.
USE A GENTLE HAND WASH
Unless you are about to operate on someone there appears to be no benefit to using antibacterial hand wash over regular hand wash. In order to protect your hands whilst still keeping them clean, use a hand wash for sensitive skin. These are far gentler, low-foaming will contain fewer irritants helping protect your poor hands during this time of constant washing.
Save the Hand Sanitizer for when you are out and simply have no other choice, but when at home or have access to a tap, choose to wash your hands instead.
CHECK YOUR WATER TEMPERATURE
Use warm water, not hot – Too hot water will actually open up your pores, dehydrating your skin faster. A comfortable, warm temperature is perfect.
Washing your hands with the correct technique will offer you the protection you need from any virus transmission including Coronavirus.
MOISTURISE RIGHT AWAY
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise – Start now & be religious about it. This is essential to keep your hands from drying out and cracking. I recommend applying a rich hand cream at least three times a day and give your hands a rich hand treatment at night for the best protection.
Look for a rich hand cream or hand lotion. A lotion can work as effectively as a cream as it's about the ingredients, not particularly the texture you should be more concerned about. Choose products rich in Shea Butter & Jojoba Oil, which each absorb quickly into your skin for longer-lasting protection.
WEAR GLOVES WHEN YOU ARE CLEANING OR CHANGING NAPPIES
This will minimise extra instances of needing to wash your hands. This is also an opportunity to moisturise, so apply moisturiser before you glove up.
LONGER LASTING TREATMENT FOR YOUR HANDS
For those with sensitive or very dry hands, I would suggest a rich hand treatment which can be done at night time or when relaxing a couple of times a week. This is a perfect solution for those with sensitive skin as the cotton gloves allow your skin to breath whilst allowing the treatment balm to melt directly into your skin helping build resilience whilst delivery longer-lasting protection.