Caring for Your Hands During COVID-19

COVID-19, Hand Care Steward Health Care

Frequent hand washing and sanitizer use are essential for preventing the spread of disease and infection, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we practice frequent hand washing, some of us may also experience dry, raw, chapped and itchy hands.

According to Steward Health Care Board-Certified Dermatologist Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD, FAAD, there are several steps you can take to provide relief for your dry hands during this time of conscientious hand cleaning.

Moisturizing 101

The best prevention for dry hands is to keep them moisturized. Specifically, moisturizing directly to partially dampened skin post washing can prevent the damage done by “air drying.” Properly timing moisturizing post washing can trap residual water and seal it into the skin, which can help you avoid the ashy dry tight appearance of over irritated and dehydrated skin. Hand sanitizer is an excellent option for washing when soap and water are unavailable but moisturizing afterward doesn’t carry the same benefit.

What are the Best Options for Moisturizers?

“Every dermatologist will have their favorite hand creams,” says Dr. Shroff-Mehta. “I look for fragrance-free products with ingredients like petroleum jelly, dimethicone, or ceramides. These ingredients lock moisture into the skin, alleviate dryness, and recreate a healthy skin barrier. Creams and ointments can be helpful for excessive irritation and dryness and often prove to cause less irritation than traditional lotions.”

Sensitive Skin Tips

Dr. Shroff-Mehta emphasizes the use of a fragrance-free variety of thicker creams and ointments for people with sensitive skin or eczema-prone skin. Also, every night at bedtime, she recommends soaking hands in lukewarm water for 5 to 10 minutes, applying pure petroleum jelly liberally after soaking and then put on cotton gloves to lock in the moisture.

Keeping Your Hands Healthy

It is vital to repair hands as over dry, cracked, sore hands are more susceptible to contamination and infection and can lead to hand dermatitis. If your hands become red, raw, itchy, and painful, seek consultation with a board-certified dermatologist who can help with treatment options.

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