How to Fix Dry Hands From Washing

how to fix dry hands

Today I’m gonna give you my tips on how to fix dry hands. Tips for coping with the dry, irritated hands that we’re all suffering with right now while we’re washing our hands too often.

Good hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to reduce transmission of infectious diseases. But hand washing is really hard on your skin. The reason for this is that both soap and water strip away the waxy, lipid outer layer of your skin. It’s that outer layer of your skin that really helps protect you from the outside world and also helps in keeping water in your skin.

As lipids begin to be dissolved away from the soap and water, then water escapes out of your skin through what’s called transepidermal water loss and that leads to more dryness and irritation.

How to Fix Dry Hands

how to fix dry hands

You want to avoid really hot water or hot water in general because the warmer the temperature, the more it’s going to strip away at your lipid barrier. Also really cold water is hard on your skin barrier as well. So make sure it’s right down the middle – lukewarm.

When it comes to quality hand hygiene, the type of soap is a little less important given that we’re all trying to reduce the transmission of a virus right now. Using an antibacterial soap actually does not help you whatsoever. You don’t necessarily need to use an antibacterial soap. Any hand soap will do.

But my suggestion is to choose a soap that is fragrance free. This just minimizes the number of irritating things that you’re putting on your skin as you’re washing your hands and will reduce the risk of irritation.

Good old-fashioned hand soap is actually the best thing. You may rely on hand sanitizers if you don’t have access to soap and water and that’s okay too. But just like washing your hands, that’s going to dry out your skin barrier as well.

In terms of good hand hygiene, hand sanitizers are a step below hand-washing with soap and water, but they are an option and it’s recommended that you choose an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

A lot of people are gravitating towards alcohol-free hand sanitizers. They often have benzalkonium in them. That’s not recommended as a good hand hygiene for this particular virus situation going. You can develop an allergy to that ingredient, so don’t be fooled into thinking that the alcohol-free ones are going to be less drying or irritating. They’re not.

If you’re gonna choose a hand sanitizer, make sure it’s the recommended one with the alcohol in it, but best practice is to use soap and water. But no matter what you choose, it’s likely to dry out your skin barrier. I recommend at least choosing a fragrance free option.

When it comes to washing your hands though, most people use way too much soap. You really don’t need that much. You don’t need to generate a massive soapy lather. You want to use just enough to cover your hands, but if your hands are soapy and foaming, that’s too much.

The greater the volume of soap that you use, it’s not going to provide more effective hand hygiene. It’s just going to strip away more of your lipid barrier and make you more predisposed to dryness and irritation.

Use just a little bit, you don’t need a ton and that will help a lot. It’s a mechanical friction along with the soap. That is how hand-washing works.

I also recommend that for using soap on your body. People use too much because they equate a soapy lather with hygiene. But you really don’t need very much to cover the surfaces of the hands.

You want to make sure you rinse off the soap lather in total. Don’t leave behind any soapy residue because those detergents left in contact with your skin for a prolonged period of time can be very drying and irritating.

The best thing that you can do after cleansing your hands is to apply an ointment right away. You want to apply the ointment to your skin while it’s a little bit damp, not soaking wet, but a little bit damp. Doing so will provide a seal on the skin and drive that water back into the skin.

Some people may worry that this can put us at more risk for transmitting infectious diseases through damp skin. In reality, most ointments will dry very quickly, drive that water back into your skin, and it’s not as though your skin is going to remain damp.

Doing it that way actually helps lock in hydration and reduce trans epidermal water loss even further.

I recommend putting on a moisturizing ointment, not a lotion and, honestly, a cream is not enough either. Lotions, which the majority people gravitate to, have a large component of water to them, so they’re just not as occlusive. They don’t lock in hydration and that’s really what you need.

One of the best things that you could use is a hundred percent petrolatum. This is the most effective in reducing trans epidermal water loss. It’s a great option to keep in your pocket. It’s really inexpensive. I recommend taking it with you and not only applying it after you wash your hands, but frequently throughout the day as well.

Another option that I love is the CeraVe healing ointment. This is fantastic. It has ceramides in it, which when applied to the top of the skin, particularly when your skin is dry and irritated, can really help guide the biology to restoring the skin barrier. These do leave a little bit of a greasy residue behind.

Another one that I recommend is the Neutrogena Norwegian formula fragrance-free hand cream. It has an amazing ability to soak into the skin really quickly and not leave a residue.

how to help dry hands

Keep them with and just keep reapplying over and over and over again. Your skin really needs it. Every time you wash your hands, you’re just stripping away some of that barrier and this is going to help in restoring that barrier.

My other tip is to stop wearing rings and the reason for this is that rings trap moisture and that soapy lather underneath the ring within the grooves. That will continue to rub on your skin and the mechanical irritation of the ring, just moving back and forth a little bit, with the water trapped under there and the soapy lather, is going to abraid that skin barrier underneath there and put you at risk for exacerbation of hand dermatitis.

The other reason it’s helpful to stop wearing your rings during this time is that even the best quality jewelry a lot of times will have nickel present in it. Nickel is actually one of the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis and it’s really prevalent on the hands as a cause of hand dermatitis.

When you’re frequently washing your hands, the skin barrier is getting stripped away, your hands are dry and irritated, that is a setup for developing contact sensitization to something and nickel is going to be an easy offense.

In general it’s hard to do good hand hygiene when you’re wearing rings.

Use white cotton gloves. These are really inexpensive and they’re available at the drugstore. The brand Cara moisturizing gloves is very good.

The reason this is so helpful is this. At nighttime, put on your hand ointment or just Vaseline, all over your hands and cover the hands with the white cotton gloves.

This will help really drive in that hydration in the skin and really help the skin barrier to recover from all the hand washing you’ve done all day.

Sleep that way if you’re able. But for a lot of people, that’s uncomfortable, so just hang out with the gloves on as long as you can tolerate, an hour maybe while you’re watching TV is really good.

I always recommend people to wear at least rubber gloves while doing any kind of what is called wet work, such as washing dishes by hand or mopping the floor, whatever house chores that you may be doing that require wet work.

Most household detergents are not meant for your skin. They are really hard on the skin barrier. So it’s even more important that you minimize your contact with that soapy water.

If you have to come in contact with that water, rinse it off thoroughly and apply the grease. As a matter of fact, if you have to do wet work and you don’t have any protective gloves, grease up with Vaseline before you do the wet work. This will this will give you a little bit more barrier protection.

Another thing that can help is a cool mist humidifier in the bedroom. I say cool mist because the warm mist humidifiers can actually cause a burn if you come in contact with them.

You want to get one that’s large enough to humidify the whole room. This will help in reducing the drive for water to exit your skin by just keeping the atmosphere more humid.

Those are my tips on how to fix dry hands with all the hand washing.


How to Fix Dry Hands From Washing
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