More people are upping up their handwashing game now that the CDC and health officials have emphasized that regular hand washing is imperative to helping curb the spread of COVID-19. But there's one step we all tend to forget after washing our hands or applying hand sanitizer – that critical layer of hand cream. Ironically, by over-washing our skin, we can develop dry cracks that can create an entry point into our bodies and expose us to bacteria, which is the last thing any of us want right now.
And I don’t know about you, but we’re suffering from some very dry, parched hands right about now. But how does handwashing dry out our hands so badly? This happens because, over time, excessive washing depletes the skin's natural protective barrier. That outermost layer of our skin is composed of oils and wax, and it acts as both a shield from the outside and a guard that maintains natural moisture in the skin.
This natural barrier is broken down by the suds created by soap while washing hands, which doesn’t discriminate between unwanted oil, germs, debris and natural oils in the skin. Therefore, not applying hand cream can lead to dryness, redness, itching, flaking, discomfort and in severe cases, cracks in the skin. Those with preexisting dermatologic conditions like eczema can experience even worse symptoms!
So, what simple things can we do to prevent our hands from feeling irritated?
GET A MOISTURE-RICH HAND CREAM
Once you've thoroughly cleaned your hands, apply a moisture-rich hand cream to help repair any chapped skin and help keep them soft. Top tip: If you feel your skin is particularly dry, apply a thick cream to your hands overnight before you go to bed and pop on a pair of thin cotton gloves. This will lock in the moisture during the night. (Pst! We have a great hand cream with ultra-hydrating, natural ingredients that help even eczema-suffering skin feel nourished.) Or beauty product junkies can consider a moisturizing mask for hands. These glove-like masks are applied for 20 minutes, then washed off. Another option to note is a humidifier at night—raising the humidity level in a room can help dry skin.
MAKE YOUR OWN HAND LOTION
If you're looking to cut back on buying new products or the stores are all empty of your favorite hand cream, another great way to minimize chapped skin is by making your own. Pinterest is a brilliant place for finding easy-to-make remedies. Simply mix together honey, brown sugar and coconut oil to create a thick paste. Rub it over your hands and rinse with warm water. By making your own you will also be able to control the ingredients and avoid any harsh chemicals.
USE A NON-IRRITATING SOAP
Most strongly scented soaps can cause irritation to the skin and actually dry them out even more from those added preservatives and chemicals like parabens. Another way to protect your skin is to opt for a natural, non-irritating soap. Natural soaps, such as those made from olive oil, coconut oil or aloe vera, will help to condition your hands. It's also best to avoid any heavily fragranced soaps, too, as they can irritate our already prone skin right now.
WEAR GLOVES WHEN CLEANING OR WASHING UP
Another way to care for your hands is to wear gloves when washing-up or cleaning the house. This is a simple way to ensure your hands are protected from any chemicals and access water. Gloves create a barrier for your skin and limit exposure to harsh products, especially now while we’re all being vigilant with sanitizing areas every day.
While practicing these important steps each day, as well as social distancing, while the world tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus, let’s also make sure we take care of our skin in the process. Be sure to stay updated through the CDC website and stay at home if you develop any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
From us at Wild Naturals, be safe and stay healthy – while nourishing our frequently washed hands for long term skin health after this pandemic comes to an end.