The recent outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is one that affects everyone whether young, old, rich or poor. Lives have been lost during this time. Doctors around the world have advised the public to ensure that hands are kept clean in order to give yourself an extra layer of protection against potentially catching this fatal virus.
This has led to the booming sale of hand sanitizers, hand soap and gloves worldwide.
Cause of excessive dry hands during the pandemic
Complaints of dry, irritated, and itchy skin has become a problem since Covid-19 took over our lives. The compulsory use of alcohol based hand sanitizers and latex gloves have brought about fresh problems for the skin.
The problem is usually exacerbated for people with sensitive skin, leaving their hands feeling tender.
Dermatologists say that the increase of such complaints are mostly due to the constant use of sanitizers.
Hand sanitizers remove the oily layer of skin which usually protects it from any harm and damage. If this oily layer is not replenished, it usually leads to hand dermatitis. And if left untreated, it will escalate to eczema and subsequently the skin can show allergic reactions to the different compounds that come in contact with the hands.
The alcohol content in the sanitizer, which is also the main component that is essential to killing germs and viruses, is the main culprit. Every time a person santizes their hands, the alcohol will evaporate and take along with it the oily protective layer.
Usually, a vicious cycle will occur. As there is no more protective layer, the skin becomes sensitive and vulnerable to the environment and anything can trigger a reaction. This leads to contact dermatitis or an infection. At this stage, most tend to start cleaning their hands with renewed vigour, which just makes the situation worse.
Tips to manage dry hands during the pandemic
So how do you prevent dry hands during the pandemic without compromising on your safety and cleanliness?
Here are a few tips:
1. Look for fragrance free, chemical free hand creams
While fragranced hand creams, hand sanitizers and hand washes may smell nice, remember that the more important thing is to protect your hands and remove viruses and bacteria.
Get rid of the perfumed products and opt for fragrance-free or a fragrance that’s certified “declarable allergen free” and your hands will thank you.
Remember that any additional chemicals may also potentially harm the skin by stripping away natural oils.
Products that contain fragrance or chemicals are irritating to sensitive skin.
2. Use a non soap cleanser
Soap contains ingredients called surfactants. Surfactants help lift all the dirt, viruses and bacteria from the skin but it also removes the oil from skin. This will lead to more dryness in hands.
There are a variety of non-soap cleansers available in the market that contain more gentle surfactants. Find one that does not cause dryness in your hands.
As long as hand-washing guidelines are followed, these cleansers are just as effective against the spread of Covid-19.
3. Avoid alcohol based sanitizers
According to most public health officials, hand sanitizers should have a 60% or higher alcohol content to kill viruses effectively. However, the frequent use of these hand sanitizers will aggravate skin and cause prolonged irritation and chronic dryness.
Try to use only soap and water when it is available instead.
Also, there are a few hand sanitizers that claim that they are alcohol-free. Keep in mind that being alcohol-free does not mean that they do not contain other harmful chemicals in it such as hydrogen peroxide. Always read the label before purchasing a hand sanitizer.
4. Look for hand creams that sanitize as they moisturise
As you are already washing or sanitizing your hands frequently during the pandemic, you may want to switch to hand creams that sanitize your hands as they moisturize it too. This not only saves time and product usage, it also ensures that your hands are kept healthy and you can avoid cracks in your skin.
An example of this type of hand cream is the Recherche Protective Recovery Hand Cream. Plus point that it is alcohol free and safe enough for babies and pregnant women to use.
Although unconventional, it is perfectly safe for use.
5. Dry your hands properly
Did you know that there is a proper way to dry hands? Pat your hands dry with a soft cotton towel after washing.
Do not rub the skin as this can break the surface of the skin and cause further irritation.
For some people, it is better to ensure skin is totally dry. On the other hand, you can pat dry your hands until it is 90% dry and then apply a moisturizer or hand cream. This allows for easier absorption of the hand cream into your skin.
6. Wear gloves
Wearing gloves will keep your hands safer, especially when using disinfectants. Yes, it is important to disinfect the spaces around to protect against germs but some of these disinfectants can be really harsh on your hands due to the chemicals in it.
Putting on a pair of gloves to do even a simple thing like washing the dishes goes a long way in keeping the skin on your hands healthier as it doesn’t come in contact with chemicals as often.
7. Use night time hand wraps
Apply a thick, unscented cream generously to your hands and then cover it up with a pair of cotton gloves. If you don’t have gloves, you can use a pair of socks.
Keep it on overnight and your hands will feel much better in the morning as they are better moisturized. Doing this small thing is likely to rehabilitate your hands quickly.
Beauty junkies can also consider a moisturizing hand mask. These are glove-like masks that are applied for 20 to 30 minutes and then washed off.
What to look for in an ideal hand cream?
Since there are so many different hand creams in the market, touting that it is essential to use that specific product, it may be difficult to choose which hand cream to use.
Of course, the ideal hand cream moisturizes your hands and keeps it healthy. That is vital. Read the label on the bottle to be sure about what you are buying.
An ideal hand cream consists of:-
1. Ability to maintain hygiene and cleanliness
It will bode better for you to get a hand cream that not only provides moisture for your skin but also ensures that it maintains the cleanliness of your hands.
During a pandemic, making sure that no virus, germs or bacteria gets near you by maintaining hygiene is so important to make sure you do not fall ill.
2. Promoting healthy, beautiful and smooth skin
If hands are too dry due to the use of alcohol based sanitizers, skin may crack which will lead to contact dermatitis, eczema and further allergies. Not only is it painful and uncomfortable, it does not look pretty at all.
An ideal hand cream must be able to protect your skin and keep it healthy and thus beautiful.
3. Soothing and calming
Your hands may already be very dry and you may be looking for a solution to that. A hand cream can go a long way in healing skin.
Find a soothing and calming cream that can offer your hand comfort as it eliminates redness, itchiness and dryness.
This leads us to….
4. Restores skin’s healthy skin barrier functions and improves skin’s resilience
Once hands redness, itchiness and dryness are healed, the skin’s healthy barrier can be restored effectively.
The ideal hand cream should be able to do that.
It should also improve skin’s resilience and resistance to the elements in the air and surrounding. This is a key point in promoting hand skin strength as hands get the most use and is subject to the most abuse from chemicals and other compounds.
5. Long lasting
An ideal hand cream should be long lasting. There are times when you are in a clean but air conditioned room for a long period of time. The air-conditioning may cause skin to be dry as well.
Applying a bout of hand cream that is long lasting can help eliminate that dryness. You do not have to apply a hand cream that is lasting so often so even if you forget to apply, you are still safe.
Long lasting hand creams should also be water resistant so that microdroplets or sweat are not able to penetrate the protective barrier.
6. Safe to use
Be wary about hand creams that contain many chemicals at it may potentially cause unwanted harm. Look for creams that are safe for pregnant women, young children and babies so that you need not worry about coming into contact with the cream or avoiding it.
7. Free of synthetic colors, fragrances, alcohol and silicones
As stated above, fragrances, added chemicals like synthetic colours and alcohol are not exactly great for your skin although it may smell or look nice. You should choose hand creams based on their ingredients.
Look out for the term “ECOCERT” and “COSMOS” for certified ingredients in order to ensure you are using approved products. It is also better that the hand cream you use is made from natural ingredients.
8. Intensely hydrating and nourishing
This should be the most important function of a hand cream. After all, what is the use of applying a hand cream if it is not hydrating?
Bear in mind that hand creams are used so that dry hands can stay moisturized and hydrated so a hand cream that does is ideal.
You can also use one of these hand creams for a night time hand wrap.
Your hands are key to ensuring you stay healthy and washing it constantly and keeping it clean is essential during a pandemic. However, you should not compromise on hand washing in place of keeping your skin healthy. Therefore, choosing the right hand cream and applying certain measures to reduce dry hands is key to a healthy skin and body. Skin care is definitely worth the effort.