In response to the coronavirus outbreak, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and medical professionals have strongly recommended that people of all ages commit to washing their hands regularly and properly. Along with them, Fort Collins dermatologists agree that hand washing is one of the most effective methods for preventing and avoiding the spread of infection.

With all the extra hand washing, however, people are more likely to experience issues with dry or cracked skin. To help you keep your hands moisturized and your skin healthy during COVID-19, here is how you can care for your skin 

avoid dry skin from extra hand washing during covid-19

Why Does Hand Washing Dry Out Your Skin?

The more you wash your hands, the more your skin may feel dry, itchy, or uncomfortable. As soap works to remove germs from your hands, it also removes oils on the superficial layers of your skin that are necessary for maintaining natural moisture. As these protective oils are stripped away, skin is left exposed and susceptible to irritation. 

Don’t Let Dry Skin Keep You From Washing Your Hands

Frequent hand washing can cause your skin to become dry, cracked, itchy, flaky, red, and uncomfortable. Excessive dryness could even cause cracked knuckles that will bleed or burn. Despite the discomfort, it is incredibly important that you continue to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. By washing your hands properly, you can significantly reduce your risk of exposure while limiting the spread of germs. Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is scientifically proven to be one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection to yourself or to others and is more effective than using hand sanitizer.

How Should You Wash Your Hands To Avoid Excessive Dryness?

To keep your hands clean, the CDC recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time. Even if you are washing your hands more than normal, there are steps you can take to help you minimize the potential discomfort of dry skin such as the following:

  • Using soap that is mild, gentle, and fragrance free
  • Using just enough soap to create a lather, but not so much for a thick lather
  • Using warm water rather than hot water
  • Scrubbing for at least 20 seconds making sure to lather between the fingers, on the back of the hand, and under nails
  • Rinsing hands thoroughly of any remaining soap
  • Patting hands dry with a towel rather than rubbing

What Can You Do to Keep Hands Moisturized After Washing?

After you have properly washed your hands, you can minimize the extent of dryness on your skin by remembering to moisturize immediately after. Many people overlook this step, while others avoid it, but failing to properly moisturize is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

As you wash your hands to prevent coronavirus, make sure that you remember to take care of them with just a few simple steps.

1. Rather than completely drying your hands, leave them just slightly damp and then apply a hand cream or lotion. This will trap in the natural moisture of the water into your skin.

2. Opt for a hand cream or ointment rather than a body lotion. Hand creams are specially formulated to provide the extra moisture your hands need.

3. Choose a hand cream or moisturizer that is oil-based rather than water-based and ones that are free of fragrances, allergens, and irritants.

4. Make sure that hand cream can be conveniently accessed after you’ve washed your hands. Convenience makes it easier to remember.

5. Place travel size bottles of hand cream readily available in your purse, at your desk, in your backpack or gym bag, in your car, or in a drawer in the kitchen.

6. If your hands are excessively dry, try applying a thick moisturizer before going to bed and wearing cotton gloves as you sleep. This will increase the amount of moisture that is sealed into the skin.

7. Use Vaseline if your hands are extremely dry.

8. Drink extra water. Water will hydrate your skin from the inside out helping it to better fight off the drying effects of soap.

9. Use a humidifier in your home to increase the level of moisture in the air and on your skin.

10. Use gloves when using harsh household cleaners or chemicals to avoid even more irritation to your skin.

We hope these tips on keeping your skin hydrated during COVID-19 will help you avoid uncomfortable dry skin.