Washing your hands is one of the most precautionary steps against the Covid-19 virus. Every time you step out of the house, receive packages or carry out activities that may expose you to the virus, the first thing that you must do is wash your hands. However, using soaps with strong chemicals to keep your hands clean can lead to issues like extremely dry skin and sometimes, even a nail infection.
If you have noticed peeling skin on your palms or nail problems related to dryness, here are some tips that can give you some relief.
Why Does Hand Washing Cause Dryness?
Before we find the solutions to the dryness of the skin due to hand washing, let us understand what causes this issue. The outermost layer of the skin contains wax and oils that help lock in the moisture in your skin. With the harsh hand sanitizers and soaps that we use to keep ourselves safe from the Covid-19 virus, this natural barrier begins to break down. The suds of the soap remove these natural oils, affecting your skin and healthy nails. They begin to look dry and brittle over time. When left untreated, this can progress into severe skin issues like eczema.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
Knowing the right times to wash your hand to prevent a Covid-19 infection can help prevent overuse of soaps and sanitizers. This is the first step to preventing dry skin and nail problems related to excessive hand washing.
Here are some instances when you must ensure that you wash your hands:
- Whenever you are handling food
- Before and after eating
- Before and after you care for someone who is unwell
- After you return home from the store or any other outdoor location
- After changing diapers or cleaning children who have used the washroom
- After using the washroom
- After you cough, blow your nose or sneeze into your palm.
- After touching an animal.
- After handling animal food or waste
- After touching litter or garbage
The Right Way To Wash Your Hands
Dermatologists recommend that you follow a few simple steps to make sure that you do not have to deal with issues like redness, itchiness, chapped skin or nail infection because of frequent hand washing:
- Use lukewarm water when washing your hands: Use a good soap and wash your hands with lukewarm water. When you use lukewarm water, you can get rid of pathogens faster. This means that you can reduce the duration of your hand wash to 20 seconds. Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly, scrubbing your fingers, palms, hands and wrists well.
- Do not dry your hands fully: After you finish washing your hands, dab them with a towel. Leave some moisture on the surface of your skin. This helps prevent dryness of the skin and also ensures healthy nails. We often tend to rub our hands with a towel to dry it up completely. This further strips the skin of its natural oils, increasing the chances of dryness.
- Use a good moisturizer: As soon as you wash your hands, use a hand cream or ointment that is moisturizing in nature. Using moisturizers containing petroleum or mineral oils is a great way to maintain healthy nails and skin. To make sure that you do not miss out on moisturizing, keep small tubes of moisturizers in your bag, in your car, the bathroom and even the kitchen. It is advised that you make use of a good moisturizer even after you use a hand sanitizer. These sanitizers contain alcohol that rapidly depletes the natural oils and wax in the skin, making it dryer.
- Choose the right products for your skin: Use hand wash soaps with a moisturizing base. You can also use products made with natural ingredients as they are not as harsh on your skin as chemical-based products. When it comes to hand-wash, sanitizers or even the moisturizers that you use on the skin, avoid ones that contain fragrance. These products are loaded with added chemicals that can be very harmful to your skin.
Studies have shown that keeping your hands moist is highly effective in preventing infections caused by germs. Therefore, make sure that you follow the steps mentioned above to keep your hands supple.
When to Visit A Doctor?
If you notice skin and nail problems even after you follow the steps mentioned above, visiting a dermatologist is highly recommended. They will be able to prescribe effective creams and ointments to manage skin dryness, nail infections and other issues. If the rashes, redness and dryness of the skin becomes severe causing itchiness and pain, you should consult a doctor to prevent the development of severe skin issues like atopic dermatitis and eczema, which are on the rise currently.