Avoid Too Much Hand Washing

 In Lifestyle
soap being rinsed off hands under a faucet

The golden rules of washing our hands to prevent the spread of germs and practicing good hand hygiene can backfire when done excessively.

Did you know that excessive hand washing can result in irritant contact dermatitis, a reaction that causes dryness, redness, burning, cracking and bleeding in some cases? When this happens, germs can enter the body. Using alcohol-based sanitizer also further agitate skin that is already overly dry.

There are several ways that you can prevent dry hands caused by excessive hand washing and sanitizing. If you are a healthcare worker or work in a place that requires frequent hand-washing and there are lotion pumps installed on the walls, use them. If there are none, suggest having some installed.

Consider also carrying a small bottle of cream or moisturizing lotion around with you so you can reapply moisturizer throughout the day. Use products that contain ingredients such as aloe, cocoa butter, glycerin and jojoba oil. Do not use hand dryers after washing your hands since heat can further dry out skin.

Damage to the Skin’s Natural Barrier

Our skin makes oil and wax naturally to create a natural barrier, which is essential for adequate skin hydration and preventing dirt and bacteria from entering the body. Excessive hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers can wash away the skin’s natural protective barrier. Brief exposure to commonly used cleaning products, materials, and office equipment also can further irritate dry skin.

 A damaged barrier may cause several problems:

  • Skin dryness
  • Cracks and slow wound healing
  • Eczema and/or itchy skin
  • Bacterial infections

Protect Your Hands

While excessive hand washing can cause dry hands and additional problems, it is still important to keep your hands clean. Help protect the natural skin barrier on your hands with the following tips:

  • Use a natural or mild soap.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream while the hands are still damp from hand washing.
  • Do not use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear gloves when exposed to harsh chemicals.

Treatment and Selecting Moisturizer

If you experience no relief after taking steps to keep your hands moisturized, you can visit a dermatologist to examine your hands and determine whether your condition requires prescription medications. You may want to consider using a humidifier at night.

Carmichael’s Crowley Retail Pharmacy offers a variety of over-the-counter creams and ointments to help moisturize the skin. We also have a selection of humidifiers. Our Compounding Pharmacy, also located in Crowley, can compound creams and dermatological treatments prescribed by a dermatologist.

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