Excessive handwashing making your hands sore and dry? Here’s Dr Sophie’s guide on how to treat them
With the advice being to sanitise and wash our hands as often as possible (and don’t forget to hum happy birthday twice while you do!), inevitably, we’re all eventually going to fall victim to very dry skin. Guidelines advise that we wash our hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds, with soap and warm water, especially before we eat or touch our faces. While it may not exactly be anyone’s most significant concern at the moment, continual washing can leave the skin very cracked and painful if left untreated.
“Repetitive hand-washing, while essential at the moment, can damage the integrity of the skin’s barrier by stripping away natural oils and causing the hands to become dry, sore and irritated.” Dr Sophie explains. “Damaged skin means that its ability to act as a barrier against infection is compromised, so moisturising is crucial.”
So, what simple things can we do to reduce irritation? Here is Dr Sophie’s guide to looking after your hands during the coronavirus crisis.
Consider using Clinisept+ instead of alcohol gel.
“This is a staple in my bathroom cabinet” Dr Sophie exclaims “it’s what a lot of clinics use to sterilise the skin before a procedure, and it’s pH neutral so doesn’t sting skin as alcohol wipes do. The star ingredient is hypochlorous acid, a highly effective weak acid that is naturally present in the human immune system, which works to kill 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores in under fifteen seconds. These days you won’t see me anywhere without a bottle in my hand.”
Use nourishing moisturisers
“Choose a moisturiser that contains nourishing ingredients such as cocoa butter, sheer butter or coconut oil. Gentle, natural and unperfumed products are essential at the moment. If your skin is already dry and irritated, the fragrance will only add to the problem.”
Make a hand mask
“It’s easy to make a hand mask at home,” says Sophie “All you will need is a rich cream and some clingfilm. Personally, I find an emollient face cream is ideal, and I’d highly recommend the Neostrata Bionic Face cream for this purpose. Massage a generous layer of cream into the problem areas and cover tightly with the clingfilm for an hour. Your hands will absorb a lot more of the product this way, and they will feel much softer and healthier afterwards.”
Don’t stop washing your hands.
“While it can be tempting to reduce how much you are washing your hands if they feel sore or dry, it has never been so important to maintain impeccable hand hygiene. It’s times like these, where an excessive risk of infection is present that dry, chapped hands are the better choice, and if you try some of these steps, it will certainly help.” Dr Sophie adds.
Photo credit: Sara Shakeel
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.