With heightened news of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), comes a variety of ways to help prevent it. Among those was good hand hygiene: washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If you do not have access to soap and water, you’re asked to use a hand sanitizer, rubbing your hands together until they feel dry.
Hopefully, all of us are washing our hands more than usual. With that comes a change in the condition of your skin. Frequent handwashing strips the natural, protective oils in your skin, causing it to dry out. Now is a great time to take important preventive steps to keep our hands (and the rest of our skin) feeling its best. Here are three great ways you can prevent and treat dry hands.
Wash the right way
As tempting as it may be to spend EXTRA time washing your hands with harsh soap and extra hot water, it can actually do more damage than good. Hot water will further dehydrate your skin and remove critical natural oils that provide extra protection for your skin. When choosing a hand sanitizer, pick one with 60% alcohol, the higher doses will dry out your skin even more.
As for the rest of your body, try to keep your showers short, sweet and mild. Switch out the scalding hot showers for ones that are lukewarm. When it comes to washing your body or your hands, opt for soap that is mild and made for sensitive skin. After you’re all clean, pat dry and apply moisturizer right after to lock in moisture.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
It should come as no surprise that the best way to add moisture back to your skin is to use moisturizer. A good moisturizer will help keep water from evaporating from your skin and will give your skin a healthy glow. The key is to use a moisturizer several times throughout the day, or whenever your skin begins to feel dry.
When looking for the right moisturizer, you should look for two categories of ingredients: emollients and humectants. Emollients keep your skin soft, smooth and pliable. The most common emollients include lanolia, jojoba oil, isoprophyl palmitate, propylene gycol linoleate, squalene and glycerol stearate. Humectants work to draw moisture from the air to the skin’s surface. Ingredients to look out for include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, propylene glycerol, urea and lactic acid.
For those with more tender or damaged hands, consider using petroleum jelly or a thick, rich moisturizer with ingredients such as dimethicone, cocoa or shea butter or beeswax. Slather it on at bedtime, slip on a pair of cotton gloves and let it soak in overnight.
Once you have dry skin
It’s important to avoid irritating your already dry skin. Don’t wear rough fabrics that could get caught on chapped hands, stick to cotton or silk clothing. Use detergent that is labeled “hypoallergenic” to keep your skin away from any fragrances or harsh chemicals that could further irritate your already sensitive skin.
Avoid using deodorant soaps or skincare products that contain alcohol, fragrance, retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). The fragrance, retinoids and AHA apply to hand sanitizers, too.
Talk to your doctor
Last but certainly not least, one of the best things you can do to treat chapped hands is to talk to your doctor. If you have any pre-existing conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, you may need specialized medication to help treat dryness without further irritating your skin.
You should seek medical attention if you experience bleeding, discoloration, swelling, drainage from opened wounds or extreme redness. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition.
If your skin is extremely dry, you may want to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists today. They will be able to determine the right moisturizers for your skin and help you develop a successful skincare routine that will get your skin back to looking and feeling its best.
We also recognize these are extraordinary times as we all confront the spread of COVID-19. We hope this blog will provide some relief if needed and we wish all of our patients and the entire community healthy days ahead. For more on our COVID-19 protocols, visit https://charlestondermatology.com/covid-19/.