Are you suffering dry and cracked hands from too much washing?
When I was a Hand Hygiene coordinator (yes you read right: there was such a job and I had it!) I told hospital staff “Clean Hands Save Lives”. That phrase is so relevant and appropriate right now as we clean, clean, clean our hands. Too much cleaning and cause dry and cracked and hands. In this post I share some ideas on how to prevent too much damage to your hands.
I found that hand hygiene job incredibly challenging (and I have done a few tough ones in my time). Life would have been much easier in the current scenario where we now truly understand the importance of clean hands.
All healthcare workers know that cleaning your hands a lot, whether washing or sanitising, makes your hands dry, irritated, and cracked. This is because of the strain that washing puts on your skin’s natural barriers. The first line of defence against infection is an intact skin barrier so it’s more than a matter of beauty and comfort to keep your hands healthy and hydrated.
So, here are my key tips to preventing cracked and dry hands.
Avoid hot water and dry hands
We are all tempted to use hot water when we want to really feel clean and I see people who recommending this. But trust me: it is unnecessary and will cause excess dryness. Use tepid water, making sure you rinse your hands well, taking time to be thorough & dry them completely.
Wear gloves when cleaning
Another great way to stop your hands getting dry and cracked is to wear gloves while cleaning and doing dishes. Gloves protect your hands against both hot water and cleaning chemicals. Wearing gloves to protect your from germs when you're out shopping is another topic altogether! But the short answer to that query is that as soon as your gloves touch a shopping trolley or other surface, they pick up bacteria and viruses. Sure your hands are clean underneath but the germs are still with you. Gloves are not magic in that regard.
Moisturise to prevent dry, cracked hands
This may seem obvious, but it is so important to keep your hands healthy by moisturising every few washes. I advised hospital staff to moisturise three times in an 8-hour shift. When we’re washing our hands so often it’s easy to forget this but failing to moisturise leads to water evaporating from the skin. This causes tightness and dryness that eventually leads to cracked skin on your hands. When your skin cracks, moisture can escape and bacteria gets in. Being at home makes it easier to keep moisturiser next to the sink or at your desk to remind yourself to use it. If you still need to be out and about for your job, carry it with you.
Treat yourself at night
Apply a balm at night so it can work while you sleep. The oils in the balm create a barrier so moisture stays in and cannot escape and stops your hands drying out. And while we are sleeping it is the longest period we have without washing. I recommend our Blam Blam Balm of course). I make it with so many gorgeous nourishing oils. It feeds and protects your skin and is a lovely bit of self-care at the end of the day. And it will make sure dry hands get some much needed soothing.
I have had so many messages from people telling me how the our balm is their lifesaver during this period so if you have it in your bathroom or your bag get it out and slather it on & let me know how it goes.