With the current health crisis, it’s more important than ever to ensure your hands are clean and healthy, which of course means washing them with soap and hand sanitiser as much as possible.
Consistent handwashing is advised for keeping any potentially harmful bacteria away, but will most likely cause havoc to the skin on your hands, especially if you suffer with pre-existing dry skin conditions. Most soaps can be quite harsh on the skin, so it’s essential to ensure you are taking the correct steps to keep the skin on your hands in good condition.
Here, Lucy Xu, Skin Specialist and Founder of The London Premier Laser and Skin Clinics shares her advice for taking care of your hands when they’re under more pressure than ever.
1. Opt for moisturising soaps
Although it’s advised to use heavy duty anti-bacterial soap to ensure all germs are gone, you can still keep an eye out for anti bac soaps that also have moisturising properties. You want to avoid heavily perfumed soaps if you can and try to go for ones that have more of a cream consistency as these won’t strip your hands of any moisture quite as much. Try to also avoid soaps in bar format and look out for ingredients such as glycerine and lanolin as these will soften and waterproof the outer layer of your skin.
2. Use warm, not hot water
Even though you might think washing your hands with hot water will be more effective, warm water is just as good and is actually a lot less harsh on your skin. Hot water strips your hands of any natural oils that it needs to stay waterproofed, so if you can, use lukewarm water with plenty of soap.
3. Invest in a good hand cream
There’s no better time than the present to invest in a really great hard-working, moisturising hand cream. I would suggest buying two, one with a thinner, quick drying consistency which you can use throughout the day after each time you wash your hands; this will ensure your hands stay protected and also safeguards them from any outside elements which could make them worse.
The second hand cream should be a nourishing cream with a thicker consistency that you can apply once you are at home and not likely to wash your hands for a short while, so before going to sleep is probably best, or before any other time when you aren’t likely to be in contact with any potentially infected areas. This will allow the cream time to sink into the skin and deeply nourish it.
4. Wear gloves overnight
If you find you are suffering with dry, cracked skin from over washing, one thing you can do is to moisturise your hands overnight using latex gloves. Much like a facial sheet mask, the gloves will keep your hands moisturised for 6-8 hours allowing the skin on the hands to get some well needed TLC. Apply your heavy-duty hand cream of an evening, applying more than you normally would, then put the latex gloves on and allow the cream work its magic overnight.
Exfoliation of the hands a few times a week will be a good way to rid your skin of any dead skin cells or dry skin that is likely to collect on your hands from over-washing – this will also keep your hands feeling soft and supple so long as you moisturise them afterwards. You can either use a gritty body scrub and apply directly onto the hands or use exfoliating gloves themselves and exfoliate each hand one at a time. Just be sure not to over exfoliate, and make sure you are moisturising your hands thoroughly afterwards to lock the moisture back into the skin.
6. Apply Vaseline for cracks
If you suffer with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis and find your already dry skin is becoming increasingly more dry, raw or cracked you may want to opt for a skin balm such as Vaseline which you can apply directly onto any sore or cracked areas. This will both soothe the area as well as protecting it from further damage, especially if you find you are outside a lot as the elements will also add to the damage.
7. Go heavy on the moisturiser everywhere
Although your hands will feel the brunt, you may also find your whole body feels dry due to over washing in the shower. I would suggest investing in a thick body butter which you can apply at night to the whole body as well as the hands, this will ensure your skin stays moisturised, so you feel comfortable day to day when you may be washing more than usual.