With the spread of COVID-19 on everyone's minds, we are (rightfully) washing our hands more than ever. As the CDC and WHO have pointed out, washing your hands is the most effective way to combatting the spread of Coronavirus. For some, though, excessive hand washing can lead to uncomfortable dryness. What's worse, though, is that dry skin can leave you more vulnerable to bacteria or infection. Why? Due to the lack of moisture, the skin on the hands gets tighter, which can result in micro-breaks or tears. These micro-tears, which are not visible to the naked eye, create a great entrance point into the body for bacteria and illness.
“The CDC recommends we wash our hands often and for a 20-second minimum, but we know with over-washing comes dryness, and in today’s day and age, dry skin is a small price to pay for a crucial health and safety measure," says Ronald Moy, M.D., of Moy, Fincher, Chipps Facial Plastics and Dermatology. "Fortunately, there are measures we can take to curb dryness. Preventing rough dry skin can be as simple as switching to a fragrance-free soap and avoiding bar soaps, as the binders that hold the soap together have a high pH which will cause unnecessary dryness. We should also increase our water intake as hydrated skin starts from within. Secondly, with the majority of us working remote we should moisturize throughout the day and double-up on moisturizing at night. Hand sanitizer dries out skin because of the alcohol content, so when picking a moisturizer aim for one that doesn’t use alcohol and is petrolatum-based."
According to Moy, those who have a history of eczema, are elderly and prone to skin dryness, those who live in cold climates using forced air heating in their homes, and people who live in areas with low humidity are more at risk and should apply hand moisturizer frequently. Moy also points out that though hand eczema can be treated with prescription topical steroids, it is still easier to prevent severe hand dryness with hand moisturizers. The brand of hand moisturizer is not as important as frequent application for those with severe hand dryness.
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