This year, our hands not only have to worry about the harsh winter weather but also the drying effect hand sanitizers brings.
The combination of constant hand washing and cold weather can lead to irritated and dry skin, but Nina Radcliff, M.D., explains the best ways to combat this in an interview with The Press of Atlantic City.
Radcliff is a physician anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author who lends advice on keeping skin safe and moisturized.
Everyone Can Be Affected
While some individuals may be more prone to skin irritations, everyone is at greater risk of developing an alcohol-rub or cleansing agent condition due to its inherent ability to impair barrier function of your skin that accompanies the condition.
In fact, substances like alcohol-based hand sanitizers, certain soaps and cleansers can cause both irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Take Care of the Skin
Moisturizing regularly and reapplying immediately after every wash or use of sanitizers can make a big difference when it comes to skin dryness and eczema symptoms. Apply moisturizer while your hands are still damp after washing or dry after using hand sanitizers.
Consider use of an ointment or emollient-containing hand cream. Thick, greasy creams or oils are better than lotions (think petroleum jelly).
Humidifiers are also beneficial as they can infuse moisture into the air in your home and help soothe dry, itchy, cracked skin and dry eyes.
Watch How You Wash
When washing your hands, use lukewarm water rather than hot water and opt for a paper towel instead of an air dryer whenever possible. Make sure to pat your hands dry rather than rubbing them vigorously.
Aim for a shower time of around five to 10 minutes, once a day and not too hot. High water temperatures remove your skin’s natural oils that keep your body lubricated, providing a barrier against cold temperatures. Also, avoid over-exfoliating during the colder months.