COVID-19 has ushered in a new era of hand hygiene. With more frequent and longer handwashing (see the Mayo Clinic recommendation), we are seeing an increase in dry hands.
The 20-Second Rule
When my kids were still in school, their teachers started drilling down on handwashing. They would demo handwashing several times a day, reminding the children to do it for at least 20 seconds under running water, getting between their fingers and under their nails.
My kids became so well-versed that they started policing me (“Mom, that was not 20 seconds!”). Soon enough though, their hands became dry and cracked- the cleanser used in school may have been a bit harsh. My six-year-old’s hands became inflamed and he was almost in tears. Thankfully, his momma knows a thing or two about skincare.
Let’s first examine why overwashing leads to dry skin and even hand dermatitis and eczema.
The Problem With Over-washing
- Along with dirt, germs, viruses, pollutants, soaps strip your skin of its natural oils and waxes that is a protective and moisture barrier.
- Soaps also disrupt the pH of the skin and change the microbiome (your skin’s pH is naturally slightly acidic at around 5, while soaps’ pH are usually 9 or higher).
- Our skin is resilient and can readjust after washing. However, when we constantly wash our hands, the skin does not have the time to re-balance and the skin barrier becomes damaged.
- A damaged skin barrier will not retain moisture and will lead to dry skin and other skin irritations including eczema.
- Dry skin can lead to redness, flaking, itching and cracking which can be painful. Bacteria can hide in cracked skin and cause infections.
- Unfortunately, children who develop these conditions will wash their hands less or less effectively, which can lead to bigger issues.
What can we do then?
We need to include hand care in our lessons as much as hand hygiene.
4 Tips for Relieving Dry Hands
1. Choose your cleanser carefully.
The truth is, you don’t need a harsh cleanser to wash your hands (or even to kill off a virus). It is also worth noting that studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers for antibacterial soaps over plain soap. Gentle ionic and non-ionic surfactants use in natural products are just as effective yet gentler on the skin. They also usually have a pH of 5, protecting the skin barrier and microbiome.
Look for cleansers with some of the following surfactants (look at the ingredient list!):
✔️ Coco-glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate
✔️ Disodium/Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
✔️ Yucca Extract
✔️ Coco Glucoside
✔️ Decyl Glucoside
✔️ Cocamidopropyl Betaine
✔️Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)
2. Use a hand lotion and balm for hydration
- Hand lotions (an emulsion of oil and water) provide hydration and replace some of the natural oils further soothing the skin. Find one that matches the pH of your skin- we recommend our Sweet Whispers Hydrating Lotion!
- For eczema-prone skin, use both the lotion and a balm. Balms are oil and wax-based moisturizers design to form a protective coating around the skin. Our customers love our Peace of Mind Protective Balm.
- If your skin is broken, use our balm religiously to help repair the skin barrier. Once your skin is no longer compromised, you can go back to a lotion and balm combo.
- TIP: After applying the product, wear cotton gloves overnight to seal in the moisture!
3. Use our gentle Lullaby Melting Balm Cleanser for your hands.
When we are home, we use the balm cleanser rather than with soap. This helped to heal my son’s hands when they were raw from washing.
The cleanser transforms into a milk upon contact with water. Unlike soaps and foamy cleansers that strip the skin, Lullaby is an oil-based formula that deeply nourishes, leaving the skin lusciously soft and hydrated.
P/S: You can still follow up with a hand lotion or balm after washing!
4. Use a soft high threadcount hand towel
We recommend cloth hand towels- in general, the higher the thread count, the softer the towel, and the more likely it will wear well over time. Assign one to each person in the household and change it frequently, as often as twice a week.
In conclusion, handwashing remains one of the best ways to protect your family and yourself from getting sick and spreading germs to others.
Let us know if there are ways we can support you here through this pandemic at Kiss Kiss Goodnight!