As we face the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, health specialists keep emphasising that washing our hands regularly is one of the most effective ways for infection prevention. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers, wipes and sprays are used, on their own or after washing your hands properly, to help get rid of bacteria. Frequent washing and cleaning with products that have at least 60% alcohol content is an effective way to shield ourselves against the virus but can also lead to compromised skin barrier, dryness, dermatitis and hand eczema.
Additionally, the use of protective masks, whilst reducing virus transmission, can cause skin irritations, breakouts, itchiness, rashes and other skin ailments. Dermatologists have been dealing with a large number of patients with skin damage caused by prevention measures and here is how to treat and prevent these concerns.
The key to a healthy and comfortable-feeling skin in this new reality is maintaining a simple, yet effective skincare routine. The most important part is to keep the skin clean and hydrated. A mild cleanser that will thoroughly rinse away dirt, bacteria and oil without stripping the skin is essential. Make sure you use a gentle and non-comedogenic moisturiser, after sanitising, to avoid compromising the skin’s natural barrier function. The importance of skincare should not be understated.
Your Skin and Protective Masks
After wearing a protective mask, experts suggest avoiding layering skincare products as this increases the chances of irritation. When removing a mask, cleansing the skin with a thick moisturiser is the first thing you should perform to help the skin recover. You should select a predominantly natural moisturiser with ingredients that can be beneficial for your particular skin type.
Hands and Alcohol-Based Sanitisers
Whilst water and soap do effectively remove bacteria and dirt, evidence shows that due to this pandemic, many people are washing their hands 50 – 100 times a day, resulting in dry and cracked skin. Cracks on the skin can increase the risk of contracting infections and can lead to skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Use a mild soap and use lukewarm (not hot water, as it can inflame the skin). Alcohol-based sanitisers can further irritate the skin and strip the natural protective oils. Dermatologists suggest to gently pat dry your hands after washing them and to leave them a bit damp. Once a nourishing hand moisturiser is applied to your hands, it will seal in the moisture and keep the skin on your hands soft and hydrated. An effective extra way to improve the condition of your hands is to apply a thick hand cream and put on a pair of cotton gloves before going to bed. This gives a serious boost of hydration and significantly repairs the skin. Additionally, choose hand sanitisers that include humectants such as Aloe Vera to prevent skin dryness.
Protecting ourselves and everyone around us is paramount in this new world, but maintaining our skin health is also very important. Skin dryness, cracking and irritation can actually increase the risk of virus transmission. Taking constant care of your skin’s barrier is a crucial part in reducing the risk of potential infection. Getting in the regular habit of using an effective moisturiser will ensure your skin retains its hydrating ability and condition even whilst still being exposed to increased cleansing routines and harsh disinfecting chemicals.