With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, measures, like washing your hands constantly (for at least 20 seconds) and using a hand sanitiser every twenty minutes, can be harmful to the skin. By constant washing of hands, and exposing hands to drying alcohol-based formulas we're exposing them to excessive drynessâand, in certain situations sore, cracked, and flaky skin. While using a hand cream may help temporarily, but you'll end up washing your hands again.
London-based dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto understands the struggle. In fact, she took to Instagram to share advice for taking care of your hands when you're washing them constantly.View this post on Instagramð©ð¾ââï¸As Coronavirus fears continue to circulate and we see rising cases in the UK, it only makes sense to follow current recommendations surrounding the importance of hand hygiene and washing practices. However, repeated cleansing and use of alcohol gel has resulted in nearly all of my patients this week suffering with some degree of either excessive dryness or very active hand dermatitis (eczema).â£ ***â£ Repeated use of soaps, detergents and alcohol gel are a common and important cause of what is known as irritant contact dermatitis. These products can damage proteins in the upper layer of our epidermis (stratum corneum), cause changes in the lipids or fats in our skin, prevent skin cells sticking together appropriately and reduce the water binding capacity of our skin. In extreme cases, changes may occur to our skin microbiome resulting in secondary bacterial infection (e.g. colonisation with bacteria such as Staphylococci).â£ â£ Clinically, the hands can become red, rough, scaly, dry, cracked, and fissured (where small cuts appear in the skin). You may feel the hands have a burning or tingling sensation or feel itchy and irritated. In severe cases the skin may become blistered, painful and form crusts. This problem can develop in anyone who is frequently washing their hands - which is probably all of us right now! Those at high risk often have a background of eczema already or work in an occupation which involves frequent hand washing (e.g. healthcare professionals) or exposure to chemicals or irritants (e.g. hairdressers, beauticians, agricultural workers).â£ ***â£ Continued in comments ðð¾A post shared by (@anjalimahto)
"Repeated use of soaps, detergents, and alcohol gel are a common and important cause of what is known as irritant contact dermatitis," Dr. Mahto wrote. "These products can damage proteins in the upper layer of our epidermis and cause changes in the fats in our skin. Clinically, the hands can become red, rough, scaly, dry, cracked, and fissured (where small cuts appear in the skin). You may feel the hands have a burning or tingling sensation or feel itchy and irritated. In severe cases, the skin may become blistered, painful, and form crusts. This problem can develop in anyone who is frequently washing their hands, which is probably all of us right now!"
She further suggests that carrying a non-fragranced hand cream at all times and get into the habit of moisturising after washing can make a huge difference. This means that sweet fragranced ones are not going to help anymore. Fragrances can potentially worsen dermatitis. She recommends CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, and La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Hand Cream. You can find these creams online quite easily.
Besides, just like sanitising your hands has become a ritual, moisturising is just another step that you need to make a mental note of, to save the skin on your hands from turning flaky.