How can I wash my hands without drying them out?

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It is a necessary gesture to face the coronavirus crisis and there are ways to do it to avoid dermatitis and excessive dryness

If your skin is dry and you have been washing your hands non-stop for a few weeks, following the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the WHO to avoid the transmission of the coronavirus, this interests you.

“Handwashing is a great way to prevent transmission of the Covid-19 and, therefore, chances are you’re now washing hands more than usual, ” begins his argument on Instagram the Lorea Bagazgoitia, Dermatologist Dr. And the author of the book What science says about skincare (Plataforma Editorial, 2018), which points out: “You do well. However, you can also be seeing how your skin suffers ”.

Collateral damage


According to an expert in skincare, using gels and hand soaps repeatedly can gradually remove the lipid layer from the skin.

Specifically, if the damage is great, an irritant dermatitis (irritative eczema) appears, which is characterized by redness, fine scales, and a cracked-looking surface, accompanied by itching.

It is very characteristic that the crease between the fingers is also affected.

From the dermatology consultations, Dr. Bagazgoitia points out, treatment can be prescribed: “If it has already appeared, cream with topical corticosteroid for a few days. Thus the redness and itching will disappear ”. But the ideal is, while we are on time, to prevent this damage.

Prevent damage


To find out how to avoid the damage of washing both hands (an absolutely mandatory gesture in these weeks to avoid the transmission of Covid-19), we have spoken with Dr. Ana Molina, a dermatologist at the Hospital Fundación Jiménez Díaz (Madrid) and Professor of Dermatology at UAM, who has told us this:

“These days many people are coming with dermatitis on their hands. So many consecutive washes remove the hydrolipidic layer from the skin and it becomes very dry. It is necessary to hydrate. But if the skin is already irritated and we use perfumed creams to hydrate it, the skin begins to itch and become more irritated. The best, most effective, and inexpensive moisturizer is sterile pure petroleum jelly. It is not the most pleasant, but it is the fastest recovery. It does not have perfumes and is thick and moisturizing ”.

Dr. Molina gives us a beauty and health tip for hands that are very dry and irritated by excessive washing:

” I recommend applying the petroleum jelly and then putting on a glove, to create a certain occlusion, and leaving it on all afternoon, even sleeping with it ”.

How to avoid reaching this glove moment? Doing a little different hand cleaning. Dr. Molina teaches us which:

“The best way to avoid this excessive dryness is to use mild soaps, the syndet type, or oleogels for such frequent washing. They are products whose PH is closer to that of the skin, they respect more the hydrolipidic layer of the skin and clean as well as conventional hand soaps ”, argues the dermatologist.

The hydroalcoholic gel also dries the skin a lot


“Of course, yes,” replies the dermatologist from the Jiménez Díaz Foundation, who adds: “Above all, to those people who, due to their profession or their circumstances, are repeating all day: water, soap, hydroalcoholic gel and start over”.

So, in short, keep washing your hands as many times as necessary but, as recommended by Dr. Bagazgoitia, follow these guidelines:

– Use mild cleaning products

– Dry your hands very well after each wash

– Apply moisturizer frequently to replenish the lipid layer that cleaning products or alcoholic gels remove

– If they become excessively dry, follow Dr. Molina’s Vaseline and Glove Trick

– If dermatitis appears, see a dermatologist


One last note about cleaning gels without water


“When using a hydroalcoholic gel, due to alcohol, people with sensitive skin may experience irritation, itching, dry skin and even swelling,” explained Marián García days ago, in networks @boticariagarcia, Doctor in pharmacy, nutritionist, a great disseminator and author of the book El Jamón de York does not exist (La Esfera de los Libros, 2019).

“To avoid this, it is convenient that moisturizers are included in the formula, which does not inhibit the action of alcohol or oils to increase hydration and replace skin lipids,” says the expert.

If we do not know what type of moisturizers our gel contains, we must ask at the pharmacy and, if excessive dryness is perceived after use, use moisturizer once the gel has dried (which takes about 20 seconds).

It is interesting to know that not all gels are the same. We find out by reading on the profile @inside_cosmetics, in which a pharmacist, a chemist and a chemical engineer answer the most frequent questions about cosmetics. They say this about hydroalcoholic gels to wash hands without soap and water:

“You can find gels of this type, either as cosmetics or as biocides. The differences are these:

-The cosmetic: It must comply with the Cosmetic Regulations, so they are not required to declare the percentages of each ingredient. In the claims, nothing should appear as a disinfectant, they can only indicate cleaning and hygiene.

-The biocide for human hygiene: They are governed by different regulations and must keep a record from the AEMPS as an antiseptic for healthy skin. In them, you can put claims of its effectiveness against microorganisms. It also indicates the quantities in its ingredients.

And they point out: “With the coronavirus crisis, we have the need to have one. If it is to clean, soap and water are enough. If he catches you on the street, there’s plenty of cosmetics. If you are caring for an immunosuppressed person or you are, it is better to use the biocide. The formula is the same but with the second we ensure the alcohol concentration (which must be 70% to disinfect) ”.

As for whether these gels are effective in eliminating the virus, the three experts are not clear. “In the case of biocides, if they are effective against viruses, they must declare it on the label.”

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