Cold and flu season, followed by a worldwide pandemic, has turned many people into hand-washing aficionados. With recommendations to wash hands well many times a day, people may find their hands are becoming more dry, red and sore than they are used to.
“It’s important to wash your hands with soap to remove germs, but soap can be irritating to the skin,” says Deanna Hill, administrator at English Oaks Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center. “Even mild irritation from hand-washing can cause dryness over time.”
Dry skin can be unsightly and painful. And the more you wash your hands, the harder it can be to keep your skin soft.
If you are battling cracked and bleeding skin from your new hand-washing routine, try avoiding hot water, using a humidifier and employing moisturizers.
Try a humidifier
It can be hard to heal dry skin when the air is dry as well. Try using a humidifier in the home to help with dry air; research has shown that using a humidifier can help soften dry skin. Even when you find yourself washing your hands more often, a humid environment can help your skin stay healthy.
The right moisturizer can give your skin extra hydration and create a barrier to maintain it. However, when you’re trying to treat dry skin, picking up any old moisturizer from the store may not heal your skin as much as you would like.
Moisturizers can be found in lotion and cream form, and the difference between the two is more than semantics. Lotions contain more water than creams and are more lightweight. They also are less greasy, so they can be absorbed more easily. Creams have more oil in them and are thicker and greasier than lotions. While this may not be ideal in some situations, creams do a better job of hydrating and sealing in moisture.
If thick creams are hard to deal with, it may help to use a lotion during the day and a cream at night. Apply moisturizers while the skin is still wet after washing.
Washing your hands frequently is bound to change the texture of your skin. It is important that you wash your hands anyway, but moisturizing just as frequently can help you hang on to the supple, smooth skin you’re used to. Skip the hot water, turn on the humidifier, and use moisturizers to keep your skin the way you like.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.