With the COVID-19 outbreak, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently. As we diligently wash hands more frequently than usual, skin experts share tips that can help keep your skin healthy.
- Wash with warm water
Dr. Daniela Kroshinsky director of pediatric dermatology and inpatient dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, says to wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
“About the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, making sure to cover palms, backs of hands, fingers, in between fingers, wrists, and fingernails,” Kroshinsky told Healthline. She said lukewarm water is best rather than hot.
- Use moisturizing soap
Because many soaps can strip the skin and cause them to be dry and cracked, Xu says to wash your hands with soap that’s moisturizing.
“For example, a soap with a creamy consistency. You should also look out for soaps with ingredients such as glycerin and lanolin. Also, try to avoid soap bars,” Xu told Healthline.
“The binders that hold a bar of soap together naturally have a high pH, which will cause unnecessary dryness. Instead, choose liquid soaps since they are generally less drying to the skin,” Rouleau. Xu adds that no matter what type of soap you’re using, try not to be too aggressive when it comes to cleaning your hands.
“This is usually [due] to rushing. Try to be gentle as to not aggravate the skin,” she said.
- Substitute hand sanitizer for soap
If your hands are too chapped to wash, Kroshinsky says you can temporarily use hand sanitizer. “Hand sanitizer is another option to limit handwashing until the skin recovers, but not before eating, after [going to the] bathroom, [or] when hands are visibly soiled — that should [involve] handwashing,” she said.
- Blot dry
When drying your hands, Rouleau said blot, don’t wipe to prevent micro-abrasions on the skin. “Paper towels are best, but if you use cloth, each person in a home should have their own towel and towels should be replaced with clean ones every 3 days. Make sure hands are thoroughly dried, as germs are more easily transferred on wet hands,” she said.