Hands Washed Raw? Here’s Your New Anti-COVID Strategy

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As the potential carriers of COVID-19, your hands have been scrubbed vigorously and washed with soap, water and alcohol-based sanitizers for the last two months to keep them clean and germ-free. It’s time to give them some love.

While handwashing remains an important way to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection, there are steps you can take to keep your skin soft and feeling comfortable in the process.

“Many people’s hands are showing telltale signs of added handwashing these days – they’re red, rashy, itchy, flaky and cracked,” said Dr. Girish Mohan of Hartford HealthCare Dermatology.

He suggested the following tips to provide relief for your hands while continuing to wash them and protect yourself:

  • Turn down the heat. The Centers for Disease Control says the temperature of the water you use to wash your hands makes no difference in sloughing away the germs there. Try keeping the water lukewarm instead of scalding hot. Remember, it’s still important to wash for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use mild cleansers. Don’t be fooled – you don’t need industrial-strength cleaners or those labeled “antibacterial” to rid your hands of germs. Read the labels and choose cleansers dubbed “fragrance-free,” “dye-free,” “sensitive” or “hydrating,” which can be less irritating to your hands.
  • Moisturize immediately after washing. This is key: Every time you wash your hands, pat them dry with a clean towel, then rub in a layer of fragrance-free hand cream or ointment to help lock in the moisture. Ointments containing mineral oil or petrolatum tend to be the most nourishing moisturizers.
  • At bedtime, add a more liberal layer to soak into your hands overnight to continue to help relieve and prevent dryness. Try wearing a pair of white cotton gloves to bed over the ointment to allow for more effective moisturization.
  • Glove up. When cleaning surfaces or washing dishes, pull on a pair of rubber protective gloves so your hands aren’t further exposed to the cleansers and water.
  • Seek help. If itchy, red, scaly hands still persist despite the above advice, you may need prescription topical medications or other therapies. Don’t stop washing your hands as it’s important to reduce the risk of transmission of bacteria and viruses.

People with underlying dermatologic conditions like eczema and psoriasis may not respond completely to these tips, and Dr. Mohan advised a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist might be needed for further treatment.

Hartford HealthCare Cosmetic Dermatology is open to patients with a variety of dermatologic needs. For more information, click here.

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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