If you’re prone to eczema or psoriasis, you’re probably used to sore skin, but how much worse does it get with continual hand washing?! If you’re washing your hands every hour, all that hot water and soap can really take its toll on your skin.
We’ve put together some top tips for looking after your over-washed hands with natural remedies, simple things you can do at home.
Use a gentler product than bar soap
Ordinary bar soap has a high alkalinity, which means it can strip the oils from the top layer of your skin, leaving it fragile, sore and vulnerable to irritants. If your hands are sensitive, try using a soap-free wash instead; it’ll still have the desired effect of binding to the germs and flushing them away with the water, it’s just less likely to bind to your skin’s natural oils and wash them away as well!
Steer clear of perfume/parfum!
Check the ingredients list of soaps, washes, hand creams: anything you’re using on your skin! If your skin’s barrier function is impaired, those ingredients can be highly irritant. Some people are sensitive to essential oils, so it’s worth checking if you are too.
Wash with warm water, not hot
Your hand washing will still work at lower temperatures if you’re following guidelines for effective hand washing, but your skin will cope much better! The hotter the water, the more likely you are to wash away those important oils from the skin.
Rinse REALLY well
Make sure all the cleansing wash has been removed from your skin, not only because leaving a detergent product on your skin won’t help, however gentle the wash, but because washing it away is what gets rid of the germs!
Pat dry with a soft paper towel - but leave skin a little damp
You don’t want to rub aggressively at your sensitive hands to get them dry, and leaving a little moisture on your skin is good, so long as you lock it in with moisturiser! So just pat your hands gently until most of the water is gone.
Moisturise as soon as you’ve dried your hands!
You want to prevent the water left on your hands from evaporating and drying out your epidermis as it does, so slather on your chosen emollient as soon as you possibly can.
...and moisturise with a balm rather than a cream
Creams tend to be water-based, and that means:
- They use preservatives to control microbial growth - and those ingredients can be really irritating!
- The water they’re made up of can sting if your skin is sore or broken.
Oil-based balms, ointments and salves don’t contain water, and are much less likely to sting. And if you chose an all-natural balm, like Skin Salvation, that's made with plant-based oils and wax rather than paraffin, it won’t need preservatives or fragrance-maskers either.
Keep it with you
Pop a pot or tube in your pocket and keep applying throughout the day, even when you haven’t washed your hands. Decant some of your favourite emollient into a smaller tub if you need to.
You can really pile on moisturisers; this is all about keeping skin in good enough condition to withstand the constant washing, so feed it what it needs to regenerate and repair itself.
Give hands an intensive overnight treatment
Apply an oil-based balm like Skin Salvation to clean hands before you go to bed and put on a pair of thin cotton dermatological gloves; you can buy packs of gloves online and use a different pair each night. Wash them at a high temperature.
Give your hands a break!
If you're self-isolating at home, by yourself or with your own family, and aren't coming into contact with newly contaminated surfaces or items, you won't need to be washing your hands as often. Save it for being out and about.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.