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Relief from Skin Irritation due to Increased Hand Washing

Wear a mask, remain socially distant, and wash your hands… It’s the mantra of 2020. It’s incredibly important that we remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and those around us as we enter the winter months. Your skin doesn’t have to suffer because of it. The following tips should aid in keeping your skin healthy, as we strive to keep ourselves and our families safe.

  1. Hand washing should use lukewarm water, be performed for 20 seconds, but doesn’t require a harsh soap to be effective. Soaps are a major factor leading to loss of the natural lipids that keep our skin hydrated. Choose a soap free cleanser, such as Cetaphil gentle skin cleaner or Eucerin eczema relief cream body wash. Avoid harsh soaps such as Ivory or Dial and soaps with strong fragrances. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibacterial soaps offer no added protection and can also enhance the irritation potential of the cleanser

  2. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol are just as effective as hand washing in killing viruses. While somewhat counterintuitive, they are actually less drying than soap and water to the skin. Again, try and avoid products with heavy fragrances.

  3. Whether you are washing your hands or using sanitizer, it is ESSENTIAL that you rehydrate your skin immediately afterwards to prevent irritation. The best time to apply moisturizer is right after you wash, while the skin is still damp, or just after the sanitizer has evaporated on your skin. When rubbing in your moisturizer, don’t forget to massage around your nails and cuticles. These are common areas for splits and cracks to begin forming. A few products that we recommend include Eucerin advanced repair cream, CeraVe moisturizing cream, and Laroche-posay Lipikar baume. Nighttime application of ointment such as Aquaphor can be an effective overnight “reset” for dry and cracked skin.

  4. While hand cleansing is essential to prevent disease transmission, dry and cracked skin is at higher risk for becoming infected. Protect yourself by keeping the skin hydrated

  5. If dryness persists despite taking precautions and if itch is a significant component to the irritation, then dry skin may have progressed to eczema. In this case, you should contact your dermatologist as a topical steroid cream may be required to control your symptoms.

  6. Stick with it! Don’t stop washing if you develop irritation. Consistent moisturization will heal the skin, and you will continue to protect yourself and those around you.



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