WASHING HANDS- A HEALTHY HABIT
We all know this by heart now, as a pledge - Wash your hands, wear your mask and practice social distancing. The primary advice when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus is the most basic one. Something we have known for ages but were never as stringent when it came to following it to the T - washing our hands.
Hand washing is a scientifically proven strategy to prevent the spread of many bacterial and viral borne diseases. It has been shown to decrease both respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases across the globe. One review found that hand washing reduced diarrhoea cases by 30%. This is because it prevents bacteria from being transmitted from faeces to the mouth. Sounds gross? More common than you think. This is because even when we do wash our hands, we’re often not doing it the right way.
We became so serious about it that people even started making youtube tutorials on how to wash hands. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control, USA) and many experts worldwide, it is suggested that we must lather well and wash our hands for at least 20 seconds - which is as long as singing ‘happy birthday’ twice. If anything, we might be sick of birthday songs by the end of this pandemic.
Skin Dehydration Issues
Add this to the sheer frequency with which we are washing hands, your naturally supple and soothed hands may be crying for help by now. Extra handwashing might result in dry skin and hand dermatitis which is a rash that can manifest as red, itchy, cracked, or sore skin. This can also be very stressful for people with eczema or very dry skin.
Your skin has a natural protective layer of its own, composed of oil and wax. It’s like a shield on the outside and is a barrier of the skin which helps it maintain natural moisture. Your soap is built to strip grease and grime from your skin because dirt lodges itself in an oily form on your hands. When the soap sud comes in contact with your hand it doesn’t discriminate. It will strip away the grease, grime, dead skin cells, unwanted oil, germs, and your natural oil. This paves way for cracked, chapped skin.
A Natural Solution
Never fear, there is a lot you can do to prevent that situation and have soft hands for days. First things first, never wash your hands with hot water. Hot water can be extremely drying for your skin, one of the biggest reasons why dry skin persists in winter if not moisturised properly. CDC suggests warm water should be used instead.
Go for soaps that do not lather much. Many products that are commercially available have sulphate and paraben but they are believed to have many adverse side effects These are the two ingredients that cause soaps to lather too much. It is popularly believed that the greater the lather, the more the efficiency of soap but this is not true. A paraben is a form of preservative used in a product; it forms lather and foam which is not good for us. Then there are phthalates. They are used in most cleaning products, from shampoos to dish washing liquids - as a binding agent, this worrisome chemical has been linked to asthma, breast cancer, obesity attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues and many other issues. All soaps are based on some form of surfactant, all you need to ensure is that it is derived from a natural source and not chemicals, much like Koparo’s Handwash, which doesn’t lather much but works wonders when it comes to washing away the nasties.
Now the most important part of hand care comes after washing your hands - drying and moisturising them! We all have the habit of frantically wiping our hands dry with our towels or grabbing the nearest paper towel (and when no one’s watching, our jeans). Now the problem with rubbing your hands on a towel or using the abrasive paper towel is that it only adds to your skin’s dryness. The right way to dry is to pat dry gently.
After Wash Tips
Your skin is the most absorptive right after a wash, which is the reason why we moisturise after a bath. The same logic goes for hand care. Apply moisturiser well right after a good wash with your organic hand wash. And always apply cream before you sleep. For people with super sensitive skin, Vaseline or Cetaphil work wonders. You can carry a pocket-size hand cream in your bag or pocket for convenience.
And in your next top up online or the supermarket try switching to a natural hand wash, one that isn’t coloured brightly, is gently fragranced and one that avoids artificial foam boosters or promises you some antibacterial haven. A little birdie tells us that we might know exactly where to find it!