Updated: Sep 22
Frequent hand washing may cause the skin on your hands and fingers to crack open, and in some cases bleed…
In the United Kingdom, at the time of writing this article, the country has just passed the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, and frequent hand washing has become part of everyday life. We are washing our hands far more frequently to usual, and this for many of us is causing some unexpected and often painful consequences.
Our skin produces natural oils which help to keep our skin somewhat moist, even though our hands and skin will feel dry to the touch. When our skin dries out it tightens, and becomes less flexible, causing cracks in the skin. Make sure to add some of that moisture back after each hand wash with a natural hand cream with no fragrances, colours or chemicals. You will be washing away the natural oils every time you wash your hands, so add a little back each wash.
Be cautious of public and work restrooms where a lot of people use those toilet facilities. The cleaning hand soaps they use are bought in bulk at a low cost, and as such are typically full of petrochemicals / parabens and various other nasties that will negatively affect your skin. Instead, consider buying a small hand soap dispenser you can carry around with you in your jacket/coat pocket, or make your own with the ones you can buy for travel kits, and add one of your choice..
ANTI-BACTERIAL HAND GELS
So many people are using these now, and the majority of people will most like have one they are carrying around with them if they need to leave home for shopping, etc. You don’t actually need to use these if you have access or have with you some sensitive soap or hand cleaning gel. Use this instead where possible, ideally with a hand moisturiser afterwards. I would still recommend carrying around anti-bacterial gel for the times you don’t have access to somewhere to wash your hands. In this case, also apply your hand moisturiser afterwards.
Don’t dismiss washing conditioners/detergents which often contain harsh chemicals too. This may be more an issue for someone now isolating at home and doing more washing themselves, where their partner might have done it more previously. I would recommend the brand SIMPLE.
Often people find their hands crack in the winter months, which is also due to the moisture been driven out the skin. This shouldn’t be the issue now with summer on the way, but there are still the occasional cold evenings which may contribute towards your skin issues.
If you have regular showers, which some people are having more than usual with been at home, having time to work out more, or simply through trying to be more cautious, try reducing the water temperature slightly, as washing with very hot water can easily dry out your skin.
The same will go for anyone washing their car, getting their hands wet, or even washing the dishes more regularly in the kitchen. My fingers personally crack open on the same day I use standard well known brands of washing up liquid, especially the cheap brands. In most cases the cheaper brands will typically contain the harshest chemicals and more of them.
I now use SURCARE every time, which you can get from places like Wilko, ASDA, TESCO, etc or order online. The other option is wearing a pair of marigold gloves each time you wash the dishes, or wash your car.
There are a number of health-related conditions that can cause cracked skin, with Eczema been one of the more common ones. Most people will have a cream of some sort to manage their eczmema, and it usually isn't something new to them.
It should also be noted that over 12 years of working with people and advising people on various health related topics, from a nutrition point of view, a frequent high intake of high sugar in foods, or even a sudden 1-2 day binge on chocolates and sweets can also sometimes trigger a skin flare up. This can be said more so if you are consuming a large number of your calories from highly processed packed foods, and obvious junk foods, which all in themselves are full of things that simply should not be something we put in our body! We may be eating differently to ususal if we are spending much more time at home.
However, this article is geared more towards people who wouldn’t normally have issues with cracking skin, but are experiencing them now all of a sudden through more frequent hand washing.
OTHER CHEMICALS AROUND THE HOME
Don’t dismiss other chemicals around the home. These can be anything from those needed to clean the bathroom, or spring clean in general. With so many of us stuck at home away from work, working from home, or self-isolating, a lot of us have never had so much free time to spend on cleaning. Be sure to pay attention to the various cleaning sprays and various cleaning solutions you are using.
Look out for brand’s that contain no petrochemicals / parabens or hidden toxins. Although not always the case, avoid many of the cheapest brands, including store-own brands, which often have the most nasties within them.
Many brands will typically be labelled ‘for sensitive skin’ which will always usually be a better choice than other brands, but even some of those can sometimes still cause issues.
I would strongly recommend two key brands that I use. They are SIMPLE and SURCARE. I use Surcare washing conditioner for clothes, and also their washing up liquid. I use the Simple products for body washes and shower gels. As I mentioned above, most major supermarket brands sell both, and there are some other brands out there if you look closely.
In the meantime, for your existing cracked skin, use a gentle skin sensitive moisturiser to keep the skin more flexible and softer, but don’t overdo it on the amount. Aloe vera containing products are some of the better ones, especially if certified organic. Some people use things like petroleum jelly to help lock in some of the moisture.
Make sure to avoid any products containing petrochemicals / parabens while your skin is healing, and of course there after. If you are unsure, do a quick Google search for the brand you are looking at. If your skin is quite bad, and bleading, try a clean wet bandage that you keep damp to protect the skin and keep the skin moist.
If you think your skin condition may be more serious, or it is not going away, consider speaking to your doctor or a health care advisor. You may also be able to get some effective advise from and possible treatment from Boots Pharmacy. I would recommend speaking with either on the phone first, and avoid making any unneccary travel arrangements. In some cases you may be able to speak to someone over the phone and arrang for a home delivery, or click & connect service.
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