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Wash Your Hands, but Also Moisturize, Seriously

Woman holding two cleaning bottles and pretending to spray

 

If you’re doing things right, you’re washing your hands at Monk-level OCD right now to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, all that much-needed diligence can mean your hands are left as dry and cracked as the Sahara. Replacing that lost moisture isn’t just about restoring suppleness. It’s about protecting your health. Moisturizing just got serious.

 

Frequent handwashing is good for fighting viruses, not great for the skin barrier—soap and water strip away the skin’s natural protective oils. At current elevated handwashing levels, skin may become cracked, raw, or irritated, making it more vulnerable to viruses, infection.

 

It’s a paradox of epic proportions.

 

The washing and hand sanitizing will inevitably dry and damage the skin creating conditions not unlike an eczematous rash according to New York-based dermatologist Jessica Krant. “This is actually evidence of a damaged skin barrier, the opposite of protective. We really need to wash germs off with soap and water, but also moisturize to prevent that process from damaging our safety barrier,” she told HuffPost.

 

Craig Shapiro, an attending physician in pediatric infectious diseases at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware, emphasized the importance of moisturizing in a Washington Post article. “If the skin is breaking down or raw, then the soap and alcohol disinfectants do not work as well.” 

 

Bottom line: moisturizing has never been so important.

 

For repairing over-washed hands, we recommend Allantoin Hydrating & Sedating Lotion. Allantoin is a therapeutic compound derived from the comfrey plant, which has been used to heal skin injuries for centuries. Vivant’s hydrating formula blends it with lipid-nourishing grape seed oil, anti-inflammatory oat protein, healing whole leaf aloe, and antiseptic zinc peptides.

 

For a slightly heavier option, try Marine Skin Nourishing Cream. This intensely healing and hydrating formula blends anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, and cell-regenerating ingredients including grape seed oil, sea algae extract, oat protein, and whole leaf aloe to replenish and restore damaged skin.

 

For truly dire dryness, Vivant’s Recovery Ointment is the king of balms. We normally recommend this moisture-sealing salve as an aid to speed post-peel recovery because it’s our most occlusive and heavy-duty formula. It’s ideal for the relief of dry, cracked skin, but it is greasy, so this maximum healer is best applied at night and covered with gloves.

 

Tips for effective handwashing:

 

Extremely hot water isn’t necessary to kill germs, and it’s irritating your hands. The CDC advises higher “water temperature does not appear to affect microbe removal; however, warmer water may cause more skin irritation and is more environmentally costly.”

 

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill the microbes on the skin without removing any debris. They are less irritating to hands than soap. But also less effective than a proper wash. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not available. And make sure the one you’re using has a minimum of 60% alcohol in the formula. Lower alcohol levels are not as effective in killing germs.

 

Use clean running water (warm or cold, says the Cleveland Clinic). Don’t immerse your hands in a full basin.

 

Wash for at least twenty seconds, wrists, backs of the hands, between the fingers, under the nails. No pore left behind.

 

Avoid touching the tap or the doorknob when you’ve finished.

 

Stay cleansed. Stay moisturized. Stay well.