RAPID CITY S.D. – With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreading across the country, health professionals have stressed the importance of regularly washing your hands. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), COVID-19 is spread mainly through person-to-person contact. This can happen through close contact or through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. The infection from these droplets can live on your hands and transmit to your immune system through unconsciously touching your face or spread to other people and objects that you encounter. The contagious COVID-19 has got everyone washing their hands to ensure that they don’t get themselves or the people around them sick.
However, medical professionals suggest that it is possible to damage your hands while washing them. The outside layer of skin on your hands is composed of natural oils that help maintain your skin’s moisture. When you wash your hands, you can break down this natural layer of oil and cause damage. This happens because the soaps we use do not discriminate between unwanted oil, dirt, and germs, and the natural oils on the skin. According to Dr. Melody Eide, a dermatologist at Rapid City Medical Center, “When you wash your hands you can disrupt the skin barrier, causing you to experience redness, flaking, peeling, cracks, and you’ll start to hurt.”
When it comes to protecting your skin, it’s best to be preemptive, and it all starts with how you wash your hands. According to Dr. Eide, “You should always wash your hands with warm water not hot. Hot water is going to be more disruptive to the skin barrier and is going to make you more prone to developing hand dermatitis than using warm water.” Dr. Eide also explains that if your hands are not visibly dirty, hand sanitizer is also a good option because often hand sanitizers strip away less of those essential oils on the skin. She suggests having a bottle of lotion at every sink in your household next to your soap. “Your kitchen sink should have hand lotion, your bathroom sink should have hand lotion, maybe even have one by your easy chair, so immediately after washing your hands you can use it,” says Dr. Eide.
Not all hand lotions are the same, Dr. Eide explains that thicker lotions tend to be more moisturizing than thinner or runnier lotions. “Often a petrolatum moisturizer can be helpful, but in general, anything will work as long as you put it on, and you put it on regularly,” says Dr. Eide. In addition to putting lotion on after you wash your hands, she advises putting on lotion before you go to bed, this way your hands have time to heal and absorb the moisture without it being washed off.
If you find your hands are sore with deep cracks, it may be time to go into your doctor for a prescription cream to take down the inflammation. According to Dr. Eide, “The goal should be to use your hand cream to keep yourself on the good side, but if things go downhill, you may need to talk to your doctor and get an anti-inflammatory cream.”