After COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, people were asked to maintain social distance, wear masks, wash their hands with soap and water and use sanitizers to prevent further spread of the virus. Since then, most people have been taking precautions and diligently washing their hands and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
However, in a recent interview to ANI, Dr RK Verma, Additional Director-General of Health Services, Ministry of Health, stated that people should not overuse hand sanitizers as excessive use can lead to the death of good bacteria which helps in keeping the skin healthy. He further added that washing of hands with soap and water is a much better option for keeping your hands clean.
The excessive use of sanitizers and continuous hand washing also takes away the natural oils from the skin which make the skin supple. This leads to cracking of the skin, thus allowing the bacteria and viruses to enter the body more easily.
Since maintaining proper hand hygiene is a priority, here are a few tips that can help prevent drying and cracking of the skin, despite washing your hands frequently:
1. Choose the right soap
Hand wash with antibacterial components and alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be especially harsh and drying on your skin. You can choose to use milder soaps instead, which are less alkaline and use no fragrances as they will clean just as well. Moreover, use a limited amount of soap that would cover the surface of your hands. More soap does not ensure better cleaning. Try to limit the use of sanitizers at home and instead wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Use lukewarm water
Using excessively hot or cold water can dry out your skin even more. Try to use lukewarm water to wash your hands. Also, do not rub your hands on a towel, just pat dry them. Do not use a hand dryer as the dry air can worsen the condition of your skin.
3. Use hand cream, not lotion
As soon as you wash your hands, do not dry them completely. Apply a hand cream, which is much thicker than your average lotion, while your hands are still a little damp. This would help the cream to seal the water into the skin. Apply a good amount of the cream and rub it gently onto your palm, between the fingers, the back of your hand, the surface of your nails and your wrists.
4. Get gloves
There are certain household chores that can be done wearing gloves. You can wear utility gloves while washing the dishes or doing laundry as these chores expose your hands to water and harmful chemicals present in the cleaning agents for an extended period of time. If you do not have utility gloves, you can also use plastic gloves. If you have only fabric gloves, you can use them after moisturising to ensure good absorption. Wash them well to reuse.
5. The night-time care
Since our hands remain busy doing some or other work throughout the day, we can provide some extra nourishment to them during the night. You can apply coconut oil onto your hands before sleeping as it not only nourishes your skin but also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties. If you don’t have that at home, you can also apply aloe vera gel or vaseline on your hands before going to bed.
For more information, read our article on Right way to wash your hands and avoid COVID-19 infection.
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