Your Hands & COVID-19

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dry_handsAmongst a barrage of adverse reactions, the COVID-19 virus has also resulted in dry skin on our hands that occur from prevalent hand washing. The outer layer of our skin is made up of natural oils and wax which work like a shield as well helping to maintain skin moisture. When we wash our hands frequently with soap and other chemicals, these oils and wax are broken down.

Over washing can also cause skin sensitivity, which can manifest through pain, redness, itching and/or flaking. In the worst cases, over-washing can lead to the development of dry cracks in the skin which ultimately can give bacteria an entry point into our bodies. So the question is, in this age of Corona virus, what is the best way to wash our hands? One of the first steps is to use a soap that is sensitive on the skin, such as a natural soap. It might seem like you need to use a strong anti-bacterial soap to remove COVID-19 from your skin, but that’s not the case. COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria. Soap molecules have both hydrophobic (water-averse) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) properties.

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When mixed with water, these soap molecules are able to dissolve fatty substances and lipids, which is a very useful quality in the fight against the coronavirus. The coronavirus is encased inside a fatty (lipid) envelope which the soap dissolves, thereby making the virus less able to survive. Rinsing your hands off with water — after breaking down the virus’s lipid protective coating — removes it from your skin completely. According to Dr. Andrew Pavia from the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah, “Regular soap is great. In my house we use plain old Palmolive and Dove bar soaps to wash our hands.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands with soap with clean, running water since hands can be recontaminated if washed in a basin of standing water. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, making sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a clean towel. You can also let your hands air dry.

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So at this point we know that repeated and frequent hand washing will lead to dryness. The best way to combat that is to apply a good quality moisturizer or hand cream. While your hands are slightly damp from washing, apply a pea sized amount of hand cream or ointment on to your skin.

Slowly rub in the cream, making sure you work it into your fingertips and nails. Using hand cream is a safe and clean way to prevent dry skin, and a good suggestion is to carry your own personal tube of hand cream with you. At night, put on a really thick cream and put on a pair of cotton gloves. This will help your hands keep moist through the night.

SilcSkin’s Hand Treatment is a soft cream made from 100% medical grade silicone. Made for wrinkles, the solution pulls the skin’s natural moisture to the surface, hydrating the skin and improving the collagen structure. The hand cream helps fight skin dryness and can be a great complement to your skin care routine.