You can protect yourself against common germs and viruses by washing your hands often, especially after you use the toilet, before eating, and after blowing your nostrils.
People often carry hand sanitizers with them in times of pandemics to disinfect their hands when they come into contact with surfaces like lift buttons, door handles, knobs, or money.
Good hand hygiene is essential, but frequent hand washing and sanitizing can cause dry skin.
The barrier must be broken down
While washing your hands with soap and water can remove dirt and germs from your skin, it also strips your skin of the essential oils and good bacteria that protect against diseases. While alcohol-based hand soaps are less irritating than soap, they don’t eliminate all germs. Only soap and water can remove visible grease or dirt from your hands. The very products that you use to clean your hands and the water are also stripping your skin of the protective barrier that protects them from harm.
A study that examined the effects of repeated handwashing on skin health was done to determine if it caused skin conditions like chronic skin damage, irritant touch dermatitis, and eczema. Infectious microbes can also be transmitted through damaged skin.
How can you maintain your hygiene and keep your hands clean?
- Warm water is best
Hot water is not recommended for hand washing. This can strip the skin of its natural oils and make it less waterproof. Warmer water doesn’t necessarily mean you have cleaner hands. It is just as easy to wash your hands in warm water and enough soap.
- Choose your soap wisely
Soap can dry out the skin so make sure you choose a moisturizing soap. Look out for products with moisturizing ingredients like glycerine or lanolin on their packaging. Avoid soap bars and choose liquid soaps. The binders that keep soap bars together can cause high pH levels which can dry out your skin. Avoid perfumed soaps, as they can cause skin irritation and dryness.
- Be gentle
You should choose a gentler soap for washing your hands. Because of our busy lives, we tend to rush the washing process. However, this can cause skin irritation.
- Hand cream is your best friend
When you wash your hands with water, it acts as a magnet to draw out moisture from your skin’s deeper layers. This can also dry your skin. After washing your hands, you should replenish the skin’s moisture. Keep a small tube of hand cream near your soap. You can also carry it around so you can use it immediately. It can be used before bed, or anytime your hands feel dry. You should choose creams or ointments over lotions. They have too much water and don’t offer the protection your skin requires.
Hand creams can be applied to:
- Increase the skin’s moisture
- Restore the skin’s barrier function
- Protective film
- Soothe the skin
- Improve the skin’s appearance, and keep it soft
- Give your hands a soothing massage with a mask
A mask treatment is a great way to protect your hands and ensure that the moisture stays in. For this purpose, soak your hands in warm water for five minutes. Next, apply Vaseline or moisturising cream to your hands and then slip on a pair cotton gloves for the night. The gloves should be left on for approximately 8 hours. This will help you when traveling to colder climates, where wind and cold can dry your skin.
- Switch to hand sanitizer
Consider switching to a hand soap if your hands still feel dry. This will reduce the amount of water that you have to use. Hand sanitizers are not meant to replace soap. Also, the best hand sanitizers have high levels of alcohol which can cause drying effects.
- After washing, dry thoroughly
After washing your hands, dry them thoroughly with a towel or a paper towel. Germs are easier to catch on wet hands. Be gentle and don’t rub your skin. Every 3 days, replace your cloth towels and make sure that everyone has their own towel.
When is the best time to wash my hands?
It is essential to wash your hands frequently to maintain hygiene and reduce the chance of getting viral infections. However, excessive washing can lead to a compromise in your immune system. To train your immune system to fight foreign bacteria and viruses, you need to expose your body only to the most harmful pathogens. Wash your hands regularly
- After you’ve used the toilet or changed your diapers.
- After you have finished blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Touching animals or animal waste.
- After touching garbage.
- After contact with bodily fluids or sexual activity.
- Before, during, and after food handling.
- Before and after contact.
- Before and after you treat a cut, sore, or wound.
When they feel or look dirty?
Signs that you’re overdoing things
Itchy hands can indicate that your skin barrier has been damaged. You are more likely to get bacteria into your body if you notice cracks in the skin.
These symptoms can be severe so consult a dermatologist immediately. They will advise you on how to treat them and how to restore your skin’s natural protection.