With Covid-19 currently disrupting our lives, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has advised that we should wash our hands more frequently in order to help prevent the spread of infection. The problem with this though, is that frequent washing can lead to hand dryness and dermatitis.
This is especially problematic when skin dryness results in cracked skin, as this can provide an easy pathway into our bloodstream for germs and viruses as well as being very painful. So, to help keep your skin soft and supple, here are some of our beauty therapy skincare secrets for silky, healthy hands:
1. Avoid Use Very Hot Water
It can be a common misconception that you need very hot water to wash your hands, as we believe this will help with killing any germs. However, when we’re washing our hands on a very regular basis, using hot water will dry your hands out very quickly and it does nothing extra to make our hands extra clean.
In fact, by using water that is too hot, you will strip your skin of the natural oils it excretes to keep itself waterproof. So, vigorous washing in hot water several times a day leads to hands becoming cracked, sore and even bleeding.
Instead, aim to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with lots of soap and lukewarm water. Here pay close attention to cleaning all over your hands, including between your fingers and under your nails. If you do this and avoid very hot water, your hands will be clean and less prone to drying out and becoming cracked.
2. Use Hand Sanitiser if Your Hands Are Very Sore
If your hands are in a very poor condition – particularly if it’s painful to wash your hands – it can help to occasionally swap hand washing for hand sanitiser instead. As this will help your hands recover faster if they are exposed to less water.
However, it’s important to note that hand wash is far more effective for hygiene and you must wash your hands after using the bathroom, if your hands are visibly dirty or before you eat.
3. Switch Your Hand wash to a Moisturising Brand
When it comes to skincare, we know to look for body wash or moisturisers that are kind to our skin, yet we often forget about hand soap. To prevent dry hands, though, it’s very important that we choose a type of soap that will also help moisturise.
Here, it’s generally best to go for a liquid soap that looks creamy in texture and avoid bars of soaps, which have a high pH and dry skin out quicker. Plus, like other areas in beauty therapy, different skin types can react differently to different brands and types of soap. So, if your skin is suffering, shop around until you find a brand that suits you.
4. Blot Your Hands Dry
As well as our hand wash wreaking havoc with our skincare, the way we dry our hands can also really add to our hands being in a poor condition. As, when you vigorously dry your hands with a rough surface – such as a towel or paper – this can act like sandpaper on our skin, causing cuts and sores.
Instead, gently blot your hands dry without rubbing. This might take a little longer, but it will make a major difference to the softness of your skin.
You should also think about the hand towels you have at home. If your towels are older, the material can become rough as well as being less-absorbent due to continuous trips to the washing machine. So, now could be the perfect time to treat yourself to some new soft towels.
5. Moisturise Your Hands Often
Hand moisturiser isn’t just for those into beauty therapy, rather it’s an essential product that all of us should be using to prevent dry hands – especially when we’re washing our hands a lot. You see, water attracts water, so when you’re washing your hands with water, it’s attracting all the moisture out of your hands. Which is why you get that tight and dry feeling.
To help prevent this moisture escaping from your hands, regularly using a moisturiser will help build-up a waterproof layer on your skin as well as replenishing water. For the best results, you should aim to moisturise your hands after each wash, as well as moisturising before bed every night.
If you find your hands are particularly dry, there is one skincare trick you can try to really boost the hydration in your hands quickly. Just cover your hands in a thick moisturiser and put some gloves on, as this will trap the moisturiser against your skin so that hydration occurs.
For best results, here, wear your gloves overnight until your hands are repaired. Then, for a good skincare routine, repeat this once a week to keep your hands soft, supple and well-prepared to deal with a lot of hand-washing.
6. Try a Skin Balm
In more extreme cases, or if you have a skin condition which also causes your skin to become dry, you may need something more intensive than a simple hand moisturiser. Especially when some form of moisturising lotions have a high water content, making them poor choices for creating a waterproof layer and treating dryness.
Instead, in these cases of very dry skin, you may wish to use a skin balm instead. Unlike a moisturiser, a skin balm is a solidified oil that contains no water. Using just a small amount on your skin will provide a very effective layer of protection on your hands and help protect your hands from further damage.
For best results with skin balm, soak your hands in lukewarm water for a few minutes, pat them dry and add your balm and some gloves to wear overnight. You’ll find lots of different skin balms on the market with varying price tags, but simple balms like Vaseline can be just as effective as big brands.
Occasionally, when hands become very dry, cracks and sores appear making it very difficult for you to do every day tasks. Here balms will be effective but you might also wish to use something like a liquid plaster, which will help with pain and keep infection out.
Right now, washing our hands is an essential weapon in the fight against coronavirus. So, keep washing your hands and think about adding a hand moisturiser to your washing regime. You may even find that your hands are much softer than they have been in years!