Coronavirus brought an unprecedented increase in advertising for washing your hands more frequently. A guideline that was supposed to be regularly followed was now mandatory and most people have now seen the unfortunate results that come with stripping away the hand's natural oils with lengthy hand washing and consistent use of hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes.
So how can you reverse it while still preventing the spread of the current pandemic?
The State of Hands During COVID-19
Like the majority of cold and flu bugs, health experts state that COVID-19 is spread through droplets transmitted into the air from coughing and sneezing, which people nearby can take in through their nose, mouth or eyes. However, if the droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others, it can spread further.
As a result, the CDC and WHO have stated that regular handwashing is the most effective means of prevention (along with staying at home) by recommending that people wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds at a time to curb the spread of germs.
While vigorous handwashing and using harsh sanitizers are both vital in reducing the spread of the virus, they can have an adverse effect on the skin, leaving hands feeling dry, cracked and sore. This is because over time, excessive washing depletes the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Repetitive hand-washing can damage the integrity of the skin as a barrier, stripping away natural oils and causing hands to become dry, sore, and irritated. If you have damaged the skin, it becomes less effective as a barrier against infection so moisturizing is essential – but definitely don’t stop the hand-washing!
Many people who are adhering to the experts’ advice will experience irritant contact eczema – an eczema caused by a chemical, such as soap, irritating the skin. So what simple things can we do to reduce irritation? Here’s a helpful guide to looking after your hands during the coronavirus crisis:
- Use an anti-microbial hand wash
Switching to a moisturizing cleanser to wash your hands instead of traditional soap as it can help to soften and hydrate the skin, especially when you’re suffering from conditions such as eczema or dermatitis. While soothing, the product is an antimicrobial emollient meaning it kills microorganisms and stops their growth.
Alternatively, you can look out for products that contain ingredients such as shea butter and aloe vera too!
- Invest in fragrance-free hand creams and moisturizing masks
After drying your hands or the application of hand-sanitizing gel, you should apply a generous layer of hand cream to help keep them nourished, soothe any dry areas, and minimize skin irritation. If you’re looking for a more intense hit of hydration, hand masks are a great treatment method for concentrating ingredients on your digits. Hand masks work just like face masks and while some consist of a thick cream that you apply to the backs of your hands, others come in ready-made gloves that you leave on for a while (usually around 10-20 minutes) as the product soaks in and works its moisturizing magic!
- Wear gloves
Wearing gloves will provide an added layer of protection and are particularly beneficial when cleaning. Many household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can be damaging to the skin, causing an irritant dermatitis. Rubber gloves should only be worn for short periods as they may exacerbate skin conditions.
The trouble with wearing non-breathable gloves is that sweat will build up and this can actually worsen the situation as sweat can be quite an irritant. Wearing gloves outside will give a layer of protection against the elements, which can also be drying to the skin while applying a thick layer of hand cream at night with cotton gloves before bed can help nourish and repair skin.
- Dry your hands properly
In addition to regular washing, not drying your hands properly can have a drying effect on the skin as it strips the skin’s natural oils when it evaporates. Drying your hands thoroughly is also important in reducing the transmission of bacteria and viruses, which is more likely to occur from wet skin.
Single-use paper hand towels are more hygienic than electric hand dryers in reducing the risk of transmitting viruses. If using a hand dryer, ensure hands are dried thoroughly – do not finish the drying process by wiping hands on jeans or clothing as these may not be clean and may transfer infection back onto the hands. At home, cloth hand towels should be changed frequently, especially if used by several people, to prevent transmission of infection.
- Seek expert help
If your hands are inflamed, itchy, swollen, or painful and showing no signs of improvement, it could be time to seek advice from a dermatologist for treatment and to determine if there is an underlying cause of the condition. People should seek help the moment that the hand condition is making life uncomfortable or unbearable.
Wild Naturals Hand Cream & Sanitizing Hand Wash
At Wild Naturals, we recently launched a new Aloe Vera Hand Gel to replace the negative drying effects of hand sanitizer! This aloe vera-based, rinse-free hand gel purifies and is a natural hand sanitizer alternative! And to help heal the damage of your already dry hands after the past few months, our Manuka Honey Cream is the perfect overnight remedy to repair and nourish your skin like new!
Shop these products and more at Wild Naturals online store here!