3 ways to help with dry, sensitive hands during COVID-19

Proper hand washing is one of the most important first lines of defense against spreading COVID-19. Many of us are washing more thoroughly than ever–only to find our hands more thoroughly dry than ever. And with sensitive skin, that can be tough.

Ironically, when our skin becomes too dry and cracked it can give bacteria a direct entry point into our bodies. Applying a moisturizer that hydrates dry sensitive skin is the often overlooked yet crucial step in keeping your hands feeling healthy.

Read on to find out why your hands get dry from washing and three steps to keeping your dry, sensitive skin hydrated.

Why do my hands get dry after washing?.

Our bodies have a protective barrier composed of wax and oils on the outermost layer of the skin. This natural barrier has two primary functions–protecting and preserving. When the barrier is intact it prevents bacteria, allergens and harmful chemicals from being absorbed into the body and preserves skin by sealing in moisture.

However, frequently cleansing hands with soap and water to stop the spread of illness can strip the skin of its oils¬–both good and bad. Without replenishing the skin's natural oils, the protective barrier becomes damaged, leaving hands dry, irritated and cracked.

How do I keep my hands from drying out?

1. Use a more mild soap

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to prevent viruses and illnesses from being transmitted through touch. During the COVID-19 pandemic the CDC also recommends washing your hands after you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens. Make sure to keep up with the latest recommendations at the CDC’s website.

Unfortunately, frequent use of soaps that are harsh on the skin can contribute to dry, damaged skin. Mild, fragrance-free soap is gentler on sensitive skin and just as effective at removing germs from your hands. Lathering thoroughly for 20 seconds over every surface of your hands and rinsing with running water pulls bacteria off the skin and into the water for clean hands without the harsh consequences.

2. Choose the right moisturizer

Moisturizing after washing your hands also plays a role in keeping your dry, sensitive skin healthy. When your skin is a healthy, strong barrier, it is better able to keep germs out. What helps makes a healthy skin barrier? Ceramides. Ceramides are lipids naturally produced by the body that help repair and maintain the skin’s protective barrier.

3. Moisturize often

Now that we’re washing our hands way more frequently to stay safe, we all need to up our moisturizing too. So when should you moisture your hands?

  • Always apply a lotion or cream after cleansing your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  • You can even keep a moisturizer right next to the soap at the sink to remind you to apply immediately after washing.
  • It’s a good rule of thumb to moisturize any time you use soap and water–even after washing the dishes or showering.

By following some simple steps for washing hands and moisturizing often, and using effective types of moisturizers, you can keep your hands from feeling dry while we fight to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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