Has all the extra hand washing because of the coronavirus outbreak left you with dry, rough, peeling or cracked skin? Dermatologists would normally recommend minimizing your hand washing or work involving water or wet substances, but that is not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some measures you can take, however, to mitigate the damage and provide your skin some relief. The American Academy of Dermatology gives these recommendations.
Washing Your Hands
Wash your hands often with soap for the full recommended 20 seconds. Wash every part of your hands, including between your fingers and around your nails.
Use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water can damage skin.
If you are unsure about proper handwashing technique, here are the steps. According to the Centers for Disease Control, handwashing can help prevent disease in yourself and in others. Follow these steps every time you eat, after you use the bathroom, and as often as possible.
- Step 1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Step 2. Lather soap in your hands, applying to the back, front, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Step 3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Step 4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Step 5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
- If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Drying Your Hands
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry but leave them slightly damp.
- While your hands are slightly damp, apply a thick cream or ointment that contains mineral oil or petrolatum.
- Comes in a tube or jar rather than a pump or bottle
- Says it is “fragrance-free” and “dye-free.’’
- When you use hand sanitizer, apply your cream or ointment immediately after the sanitizer dries.
Using moisturizer after sanitizing or washing your hands does not negate your hand washing efforts. In fact, having a well-moisturized, intact skin barrier makes it harder for germs to penetrate your skin and get inside your body.
Since you are washing your hands frequently throughout the day, you should be applying your moisturizer just as often, if not more often, throughout the day. It may help to keep a tube of moisturizer next to your soap or sanitizer as a reminder, as well in your purse or pocket. If your hands are persistently dry, itchy, or painful, see a board-certified dermatologist for further recommendations.
For updates from Ochsner on COVID-19 coronavirus, please visit ochsner.org/coronavirus.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.