Dry Skin & Frequent Handwashing

Advice on Dry Skin & Frequent Handwashing

Keeping your hands clean is an important part of all infection control strategies. This is because people frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising that they have done so and this is how germs get into the body and make us sick.

Following government guidelines on regular handwashing, for at least the recommended 20 seconds, means exposing the skin to water and soap frequently. This repeated exposure to soap and alcohol-based hand gels can cause the skin to become dry, red and irritated. This is known as “irritant contact dermatitis” and is a form of eczema that can result in small blisters or painful cracks in the skin.

Advice on dry skin and handwashing frequently

During the Coronavirus pandemic, some people with eczema are suffering from sore hands as a result of repeated washing with soap and water. Many healthcare professionals and key workers working on the front line have also developed dry and inflamed, itchy hands as a result of constant hand washing and if you already have dry skin either from either a skin condition or because you are washing your hands more than normal then you may be more likely to develop this condition.

Please continue to wash your hands in line with government guidance, using soap and water as much as is practical and possible.

There are some ways to help manage dry skin and minimise the impact that frequent handwashing has on the skin, which we have listed below:

  • You should always ensure that you dry your hands properly after washing, by patting them dry, not rubbing.
  • After washing your hands, generously apply a skin emollient. This is a moisturising treatment that is applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. These are essential for treating dermatitis and eczema as they lock in moisture and help to repair damaged skin and can be bought from a pharmacy without a prescription.
  • If your hands are going to come into contact with water and detergent that is not specifically washing the hands, such as washing up, then wearing gloves to provide a barrier will help to protect the skin.​
  • You might also want to consider moisturising your hands throughout the night by applying a generous amount of skin moisturiser just before going to bed. Put on some clean cotton gloves and leave overnight.

Please follow NHS guidelines on skin emollients and if your cracked skin is “oozing” or you suspect an infection please visit your GP.

At JR Medical, we specialise in cosmetic dermatology. We have fully trained, highly experienced consultant dermatologists on board who have also consulted at Basildon and Southend hospital. Our medical and cosmetic dermatologists have different areas of dermatology in which they specialise, allowing JR Medical to provide a comprehensive consultation service. We are also able to offer a telephone consultation service with our dermatologist. Contact us to find out more.

JR Medical is a clinic with over 25 years of professional experience in the cosmetic industry. All treatments are administered by an experienced professional and include a free follow-up consultation to review your treatment as part of our ethically responsible service.

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