Over-washed, sore hands? Our top tips will help…
Hand washing has never been so important. However, over washing causes dryness and irritation leaving many suffering with soreness. Here we explain simple steps you can take to protect and soothe your hands.
But first, why are we having to wash our hands so much?
We find ourselves in unprecedented times, and all of our lives have suddenly changed. The first message we received as soon as word spread about the COVID-19 virus was to wash our hands. Washing hands is essential to stop the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 virus itself is covered in a layer of sticky molecules, which is how it so easily attaches to surfaces and clings to your hands. The good news is this sticky coating is made up of molecules that are also attracted to soap which can destroy it. Using soap breaks down the outer layer of the virus, allowing it to be dissolved by water, washed away, and destroyed.
When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround any microorganisms on your skin with soap molecules. The hydrophobic tails of the free-floating soap molecules attempt to evade water; in the process, they wedge themselves into the lipid envelopes of certain microbes and viruses, prying them apart.
“They (the soap molecules) act like crowbars and destabilise the whole system.”
Professor Pall Thordarson, acting head of chemistry at the University of New South Wales.
More details on this can be found in this Science Focus article and in this article from the Independent on Soap, Hand Washing & Covid-19.
But what if hand washing facilities are not available? Can hand sanitizer gels help too? The answer is yes, if they are at least 60% alcohol based. The alcohol can effectively kill the virus but you need to fully coat your hands, so you need to use the gel liberally, and, let it dry naturally, to take effect. The problem with gels is that the alcohol, the very ingredient that makes them effective, is incredibly unkind to your skin. Skin soaked in alcohol will show the signs of dryness and cellular damage. Obviously this is preferable over the transmission of any Coronavirus, but it can lead to irritation and soreness, meaning hand washing with soap is always the preferred option, if you have the choice. You can learn more here.
Hand washing needs to be thorough to be effective (see more advice on this here
) so it can unfortunately also lead to dry irritated hands. In extreme circumstances they may become so dry they become red, cracked and incredibly sore. It can even lead to conditions such as contact dermatitis.
This is because excessive cleaning can strip away natural oils along with the dirt and germs.
SO what can we do when we have to be washing our hands but don’t want to suffer from the associated side effects? Here are our top tips:
Hot water strips the hand of essential moisture. Make sure you use lukewarm water. This is a top tip for your whole body as very hot baths and showers do the same.
And don’t forget to use a nail brush to clean under your nails too. Lots of us have one lurking in a bathroom cupboard – time to get it out!
After washing, gently pat your hands dry. Don’t rub them vigorously. Studies have found the most hygienic way is to use paper towels, but be gentle with them to save making your hands sore. Remember, whilst hand dryers can seem efficient, they can be the cause of increased skin irritation. Read more about this here.
To prevent excessive dryness, and to lock in moisture, use a good quality hand cream straight after washing and frequently throughout the day. Have your own tube in your bag or pocket to minimise contamination from sharing with others. Keep a hand cream by your bed to give them a good coating before you go to sleep too – maybe treat yourself to a nightly hand massage to soothe and calm yourself before bed?
The cream should be free from known irritants and contain ingredients to reinforce the skin barrier. Learn more about our award winning Hand Cream here
Don’t save your exfoliator and masque just for your face. You should give your hands a weekly treatment too. Exfoliate away dry skin to allow the moisturisers to work. You can also treat your hands to a hydrating masque. Smooth the masque on and place your hands in a small plastic bag, or even a large sock, whilst you let the active ingredients get to work. Your hands will emerge feeling super soft and any irritation will be calmed. Click through here to find out more about our exfoliator and masque products
Gloves are a must! Wear them for household chores, especially the washing up, or if working in the garden. They will save your hands from further wear and tear.
In summary, effective hand washing, and good hand care, will be a lesson we have all learnt only too well by the end of this current pandemic. Moving forward our hands will continue to take the brunt of the battle against the transmission of viruses. Take steps to protect and nourish them now, and save yourself from the uncomfortable side effects which can occur.
Shop ARK Skincare's Hand Care Collection HERE
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