Frequent handwashing can cause dry skin issues

Washing your hands is critical to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
 
However, frequent handwashing can cause dry skin that can flake, itch, crack, and even bleed without proper precautions. This can cause open wounds in your skin that can allow bacteria and other germs and increase your risk for infection.
 
To reduce your risk of dry, cracked skin from handwashing, follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists.

1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in lukewarm water.

Use soap, and wash every part of your hands, including between your fingers and around your nails.

 

2. Dry your hands with a clean towel but leave some water on them.

You can also let your hands air dry. While your hands are slightly damp,
apply hand cream or ointment.

 

3. Apply hand cream or ointment to your skin, making sure you work some of the moisturizer into your fingertips and nails.

Dermatologists recommend using a hand cream or ointment that:
– Contains mineral oil or petrolatum
– Comes in a tube rather than a pump
– Is “fragrance-free” and “dye-free.”
-These moisturizers tends to feel less irritating to dry, chapped skin.
 
 
4. When you use hand sanitizer, apply your hand cream or ointment immediately after the hand sanitizer dries.

Because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to kill germs, hand sanitizer can be very drying.

 

5. Get your health information from a trustworthy source.

Going online to chat with friends and family can be comforting. However, when it comes to health information, it’s essential to get accurate and reliable information.  Resources such as your doctor or websites reviewed by doctors such as this one, and the CDC are recommended.
 
 
* What the science shows
You may have seen well-meaning posts on social media about keeping your hands clean. Some posts may come from assumptions rather than science.
Here’s what the science shows:
• There is no evidence that using a hand sanitizer makes it easier to pick up germs. It’s dry skin that increases your risk of picking up germs. If you have dry skin from using hand sanitizer, apply moisturizer immediately after your hand sanitizer dries.
• Handwashing helps to prevent illness, but frequent handwashing can dry your skin. To prevent and heal dry skin, apply hand cream, or ointment after you wash your hands. 
• When skin is moist, it can better protect you from germs.
 
*Information resources: https://www.aad.org