We hope that you have been washing your hands more often recently. Washing your hands with soap is so important for preventing the spread of disease. But, washing your hands continually will unfortunately, result in dry skin. Even if you are using a high quality, handcrafted soap, excessive hand washing will dry the skin and damage the barrier function of your skin.
Using a hand sanitizer is particularly hard on the skin barrier function. Alcohol found in these products can be very drying and other ingredients can be skin irritants.
The skin barrier is an important function of your skin that protects us from loss of body water or dehydration. This barrier function will also keep out foreign agents including toxins, bacteria, and fungi. Your natural skin oils, proteins, and water soluble compounds that help bind water are all part of this skin barrier function.
Once the skin barrier is damaged, the skin will become dry and scaly due to water loss from the epidermis, the outer layer of skin. This leads to dryer, chapped skin as well as cracks and fissures in the skin. These cracks allow a place for entry of toxins and infectious agents. And following this, the result may be dermatitis, eczema as well as infections.
The skin barrier function however, can be repaired using the proper skin care products. Consider using a skin moisturizer product immediately after washing your hands. A skin moisturizing product should contain a mix of proper fatty acids, water and humectants to support the skin barrier function. Keeping the skin well moisturized is an important health routine.
Here is what to look for in a moisturizer.
Antioxidants – these can help repair the barrier function of skin
Water – this will add moisture (water) to your skin
Glycerin – or another humectant that helps hold water to your skin
Preservative – your lotion should have a good preservative to prevent spread of bacteria/fungi. Introducing bacteria to your skin when it is already compromised is not a good idea.
Emollients – something like cocoa butter that will soften skin and help keep it from cracking.
You can choose to use a lotion, cream or balm on the skin, just choose a high quality one. You might want something lighter and not greasy during the day so that you can still work and pick things up and not leave grease on your keyboard. At night maybe a heavier cream might work better.
Have your own, personal bottle of moisturizer so that no one else’s skin is touching the pump, or the outlet where the lotion comes out.
Here is an older blog about hand washing technique.
Read more about the skin barrier function here.
Here are some suggestions from our line:
Mountain Mist Hand and Body Lotion – a light, silky feeling lotion with staying power.
Dream Lake Body Butter – a heavier cream for very dry hands.
Knuckle Balm – a calendula/plantain containing balm. It’s a little greasy, but very useful if you already have cracks and fissures on your skin.
The Washington Post recently wrote about the importance of using a moisturizer after washing