We are very proud that The Breast Place has been a trusted breast health resource in our community. During this challenging time, we are putting your safety and wellness as well as that of our patient care team first. That being said, we thought a few helpful hints along the way would continue to bring our community together during this time of social distancing.
A patient asked this morning how to address the red patches and eczema inflamed on her skin with all the handwashing. Then one of our team members showed her blotchy, cracked hands as an example.
So what do we do when we have to wash our hands over and over and/or apply sanitizer again and again?
When you are washing your hands to avoid a disease, the last thing you want is to make them so raw that that there is breakage in the skin so that a bacterial or fungal infection develops. Cracks that form on skin can increase your risk of contracting infections through the fissures and also lead to conditions such as eczema.
We cannot stop washing our hands (health professionals are doing it up to 100 times a day) and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people should scrub their hands for at least 20 seconds. Don’t you remember your kindergarten teacher telling you to sing a full rendition of Happy Birthday while washing, to get through the 20 seconds? Those rules still apply today!
Here are some helpful hints to care for your skin after washing your hands:
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which kill the microbes on skin without removing any debris, irritate hands less than soap. We suggest using hand sanitizers when it makes the most sense, like after touching a door handle or another surface that might carry germs, instead of repeatedly washing your hands. However, keep in mind that sanitizer kills 6%0 of what soap kills, including surface debris. It does not replace washing your hands correctly.
Take preventative measures to moisturize your hands after washing them will help. Hand soap should also gentle and fragrance-free – remember, you are not washing dishes!
Once you’ve washed your hands for at least 20 seconds (Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…you know the drill!), pat them dry rather than rubbing them. Leave just a small amount of dampness and then moisturize to lock in the water.
Immediately use a hand cream to seal in the moisture. Among the many kinds of moisturizers, hand creams are better than body lotion because they are more nourishing. Body lotions, which are primarily water-based, can further dry out skin because the water evaporates while creams, which are often oil-based, will begin moisturizing and protecting washed hands.
We recommend applying thick hand creams at nighttime to give your skin a rest. Put on a pair of cotton gloves or even socks!! For a few hours before bed, or even overnight, you will hydrate and replenish the skin, gearing up to fight the COVID-19 another day.
*Remember, if your skin is sensitive to harsh chemicals, you should handle cleaning supplies like Clorox wipes while wearing gloves.