Red-raw, dry and sore? How to cure your hands after all that hand-washing

Is rigorous hand-washing and sanitising in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic making your hands red-raw, dry and sore? Skin healing expert Hanna Sillitoe gives some hand-saving tips that mean you don’t have to suffer or compromise on hygiene

Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard yourself and others in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic. However, with people now becoming more and more vigilant, and washing and sanitising their hands multiple times an hour, many are starting to suffer from dry, cracked, red and sore skin as a result.

With these safety measures likely to be in place for months to come, unpleasant side-effects shouldn’t be a reason to step down your efforts; there are things you can do to minimise the impact on your skin while maintaining high levels of hygiene – particularly if you suffer from contact dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.

Be soap safe

Soap and water is the gold standard for hand washing when it comes to preventing the spread of infection. Avoid hand washes that contain ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and triclosan. There are many brands that have fantastic anti-bacterial products but are less harsh on skin. Look for a hand soap free from synthetic detergents and preservatives; most natural washes come fortified with nourishing ingredients which replenish our hands to keep skin feeling soothed and soft.

Pat don’t rub 

Pat your hands dry with a soft cotton towel after washing. Ensure they’re fully dry, but don’t rub the skin as this can break the surface and further irritate the skin.

Ditch the perfumed products 

While fragranced hand creams and hand washes may smell nice, or look pretty in your bathroom cabinet, the priority is removing germs and protecting the skin. So, if your hands are suffering, ditch the perfumed products and opt instead for fragrance-free or a fragrance that’s certified ‘declarable allergen free’.

Sanitiser sanity

According to Public Health England a hand-sanitiser should have a 60% or higher alcohol content to kill viruses effectively. However, frequent and repeated use of hand-sanitisers can most definitely aggravate sensitive skin, causing prolonged irritation and chronic dryness. The advice is to use it only when soap and water are not available.

Use a nourishing hand cream

While cheap, thick hand creams seem to offer relief from painfully chapped skin, petroleum and other chemicals used in cosmetic emollients might actually be making the problem of sore hands worse.  Switching to a cream full of naturally nourishing botanicals will help to replace some of the oils that have been stripped through perpetual cleansing, without blocking our skin’s own ability to replenish.

Listen to Hanna’s advice, including how to make her natural soothing remedy for sore hands, here:

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