If you’re already prone to hand eczema or dermatitis, all this extra hand washing will be filling you with dread.
Government advice is very clear: you must use soap and water to clean your hands effectively. Emollients that you might otherwise use to clean your hands if you’ve got eczema aren’t good enough to wash away viral particles, as they can get stuck to the oily emollient and remain on your hands. You need a detergent to loosen the bonds of the virus and to wash it away with the water.
But if your skin reacts badly even to soap-free washes, and hand washing triggers an eczema flare up, there are things you can do to calm things down.
1. Make sure you’re washing in warm - not hot or cold - water; this will be less harsh on your skin.
2. Dry hands thoroughly but gently after you wash; a clean, soft, paper towel is preferable to a rough cotton towel.
3. Moisturise immediately after drying to reduce dehydration.
4. Use simple, unscented products: alcohol, preservatives and perfume will exacerbate the flare.
5. Use a rich barrier balm rather than cream; it'll seal cracks in the skin and lock in moisture, reducing further damage.
6. Wear thin cotton gloves overnight, with a good layer of barrier balm underneath.
7. Don’t let your hands get damp in hot, sweaty gloves. If you have to wear gloves for your work, change them regularly or wear thin cotton liners underneath.
8. If your fingertips aren’t sore but your palms are, snip the ends of the fingers of a pair of thin cotton gloves and wear while you work.
9. Keep a small pot of balm or tube of hand cream with you wherever you go and keep reapplying throughout the day, especially after each time you wash.
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with calendula & chamomile, £19 for 200ml
Skin Salvation balm with hemp seed and beeswax, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Intensive Hand Cream with shea butter and sea buckthorn oil, from £10.99 for 50ml