You’ve done your part to flatten the COVID-19 pandemic curve through social distancing. You aren’t panic-buying every toilet paper roll in sight. Even better, you’ve been on top of your hand-washing (and vocal practice, if you’ve been singing along with celebs at the sink).
But if your very clean hands are starting to feel chapped and sore, it can make following COIVD-19 health protocol a painful experience. Literally.
While her famous speech makes for a great hand-washing monologue, no one wants to end up like Lady Macbeth.
If you’re looking for some soreness relief, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:
Overhaul your hand-washing routine
Start by changing up your soap, as it can often be the root of skin irritation. Strongly scented soaps can do more harm than good, so many frequent hand-washers opt for unscented choices. One expert told the Washington Post that if scents are unavoidable, those that are plant-based and from natural ingredients tend to be kinder to sore hands.
If you’ve been reaching for the dish soap to get clean, leave it for your pots and bowls. Their grease-fighting ingredients strip natural oils, which is why washing dishes with rubber gloves is so important for skin health.
Mild soaps are just as effective as regular soap, even those marketed for babies.
If buying a non-soap cleanser, as people with eczema do to avoid chafing, it might be worth doing your research. Most health agencies explicitly state soap and water works best for hand-washing because soap’s molecular make-up dissolves a virus’ outer layer. Contacting manufacturers may help determine if a product is right for you.
How you wash your hands can be a factor too. Dr. Elaine Larson told the Wall Street Journal that over-scrubbing or using too much soap (a quarter-sized amount is fine) can increase the likelihood of getting cracking, sore hands.
Stop scalding yourself, it doesn’t work
You don’t need hellfire temperatures to fight germs. Hot water isn’t more effective at killing bad bacteria, a Rutgers University study on E. Coli found. And as any nurse can tell you, frequently washing your hands for hot water is asking for chapped skin.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests rinsing with cool or warm water, as cooler temperatures are less likely to irritate.
Slather on quality hand creams
If you’re already on damage control, proper moisturizing can soothe hands. In general, you’ll want to check for ingredients that are humectants, which quench skin by attracting water’s moisture, and occlusives, which lock that moisture in, Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Self.
With many suffering from chapped hands, people have shared their holy grail moisturizers that have saved their skin. Top drugstore/supermarket picks include Eucerin, Aveeno, and Working Hands. Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart, and Amazon are all good places to check hand-cream prices.
Dermatologists have their own hydrating favourites. Dr. Gary Goldenberg recommended CeraVe Moisturizing Cream with hyaluronic acid to Yahoo Lifestyle, as it quenched the skin’s natural barrier without feeling greasy.
The classics work just as well, too. Don’t knock your tub of Vaseline, as it contains petroleum ― a well-regarded occlusive. The goopy jelly sits on the skin well, acting as a barrier.
And since you asked us, here are a few of our favourite hand creams to try (all available online):
- To treat yourself naturally: Henné Luxury Hand Cream, $25, Detox Market
- A fan favourite: Aveda Hand Relief, $34, Aveda
- An affordable Aveda dupe: Glysomed, $3.89, Shoppers Drug Mart
- A drugstore gem with a touch of luxe: Avene Hand Cream With Cold Cream: $10
- A cult favourite that works hard for your hands: Aquaphor IN Multipurpose Healing Ointment, $10.99
Fight ashiness with butter
If cracked skin and ashiness are concerns, dermatologist Hadley King told Refinery29 that cocoa butter is the perfect solution to grey-looking skin because of its fatty acids and antioxidant properties.
Other buttery options that fight ashiness include shea butter and olive oil-based butter.
Start wearing gloves to bed, outside
If moisturizers alone aren’t cutting it, you can double their staying power with gloves. Many recommend wearing cotton gloves after applying moisturizer, as the fabric is both breathable and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. If that’s a hassle to do, many brands sell pre-moisturized gloves.
Gloves on their own can also help keep hands happy, as wearing them reduces how often one needs to sanitize their bare skin and they protect against harsh conditions outdoors, should you venture.
Don’t neglect glove hygiene, as the coronavirus can survive on many surfaces for days. While experts believe it can’t last long on soft fabrics for long, best practices call for doing laundry often.
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