Since March 2020, we have been bombarded by well-meaning messages about the importance of thoroughly and regularly cleaning and disinfecting our hands, which can eventually lead to dry skin and other issues. Some posts and announcements may come from assumptions rather than science.
However, what Science shows on this matter?
- Soap and water rinses away germs and dirt, but also strips the natural, protective oils in your skin, causing it to dry out.
- Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs and that only soap can wash away visible dirt or grease.
- Use of a hand cream immediately after each hand wash can confine both skin dryness and skin roughness.
- There is no evidence that using a hand sanitizer makes it easier to pick up germs. It’s dry skin that increases your risk of picking up germs.
- If you have dry skin from using hand sanitizer, apply moisturizer immediately after your hand sanitizer dries.
- Handwashing helps to prevent illness, but frequent handwashing can dry your skin.
- When skin is moist, it can better protect you from germs.
How to keep your hands clean and moisturized?
After washing your hands for minimum 20 seconds with preferably fragrance-free soap, pat them dry to avoid any irritation. Leave a small amount of dampness, and then immediately moisturize to lock in the water. Ideal hand creams should not include irritants, such as retinol or other anti-aging serums, allergens or fragrances. Among the many kinds of moisturizers, hand creams are better than body lotion because they are more nourishing. Lotions, which are primarily water-based, can further dry out skin because the water evaporates whereas creams, which are often oil-based, are more effective after washing hands. Preferably, water resistant properties of some creams help them to stay on the skin for a prolonged period, which makes them even more effective.
Night-time is a really good time to give your skin a rest. Put on a really thick cream and if you can, put on a pair of cotton gloves. Managing this overnight, utilizes all that downtime to hydrate the skin to get it back into gear.
Kamp, G. and Ennen, J.,(2006) Regular use of a hand cream can attenuate skin dryness and roughness caused by frequent hand washing. Regular use of a hand cream can attenuate skin dryness and roughness caused by frequent hand washing (nih.gov) Accessed: June, 2021.
Hobbs, L. and Macllduff, S. (2016) Is occupational dermatitis an outcome of too much hand cleansing? Is occupational dermatitis an outcome of too much hand cleansing? – Infection, Disease & Health (idhjournal.com.au) Accessed: June, 2021.
The Derm Review. Water Based Moisturizer vs. Oil Based Moisturizer: What’s The Difference? – The Dermatology Review (thedermreview.com) Accessed: June, 2021.