Winter is well and truly here, which means cold weather, less humidity and dry skin. To make matters worse, with a global pandemic still affecting our lives, most of us are frequently washing our hands and using disinfectant products that dry out our skin, creating a vicious, never-ending cycle.
Dry skin gradually gives way to cracked skin which is both painful and increases your risk of infection through these tears in the skin. Here is some golden advice from dermatologist Dr. Serpil Pırmıt on how to keep your skin healthy and take good care of it when sanitizing solutions burn like fire. Pırmıt offers 11 important principles in skin care.
When in doubt, moisturize
Washing your hands is important, but to care for your skin and keep it healthy in the long run, moisturizing is just as essential. Using moisturizers after washing your hands will help alleviate the dryness caused by stripping the natural oils from your skin and significantly reduce the risk of dealing with flakey, cracked and sore skin. There is no rule on how often you should moisturize – do it whenever you feel discomfort and tightness.
The human body needs 30 milliliters per kilogram (0.46 ounces per pound) of water daily, so an average person who weighs 60 kilograms (132 pounds) needs to drink at least 2 liters (68 ounces) of water every day. Staying well-hydrated is important to keep your body working optimally and your skin hydrated. Maintaining a balanced diet is also key in recovering lost moisture. If you find yourself not drinking enough water and, instead, drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages like coffee, try eating your water by consuming lots of fruits and vegetables.
Choose disinfectant carefully
Disinfectants are an irreplaceable part of our daily lives nowadays, but too much of a good thing can be bad. These products are important in the fight against germs, but they can lead to dry and cracked skin when used excessively. Washing hands with soap and water might be better if you find that alcohol is irritating to your skin. Make sure to apply moisturizers after using disinfectant to restore balance and keep your skin healthy.
Ditch fragrant soaps
When choosing a type of soap, colorless and scentless soaps like traditional white soaps or soaps with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin or olive oil should be preferred over those with artificial scents, dyes and added fragrance, says Pırmıt. She says unscented types won't strip the skin's natural oils as much and will prevent skin from drying out.
The worst possible offender, according to Pırmıt, is harsh liquid antibacterial soap that contains many chemicals that cause dry and cracked skin.
Baby products can be useful
Products that are designed for the delicate skin of babies can be useful for adults in some cases. If you have dry skin or a condition like eczema or psoriasis, instead of regular soaps, you can use baby products, says Pırmıt. These will be more emollient than regular cleansing products and moisturizers. Using products without sulfates, aka those that don't foam too much, is also a good idea.
Find an occlusive
Pırmıt points out that using products with hydrators such as glycerin and then following with products that include occlusives such as petroleum jelly to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is perfectly sufficient to prevent dry skin. You should choose products that are specifically made for treating and helping to repair the skin if you have conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, she added. One other tip is to apply your cream on slightly damp hands to sandwich in moisture.
Don't rub while drying
After you wash your hands, try to be gentle with them when drying. Pat them dry with a soft cotton towel, instead of rubbing aggressively. Treating your hands roughly will only cause more friction, reveal flaky skin and make them sore.
Turn down the heat
Pımıt says the temperature of the water you use to wash your hands also plays an important role in this issue. The hotter the water, the more dehydrated your skin will be. So try to use lukewarm water instead, and the same thing goes for your body – try to avoid long, steamy showers.
Use gloves when cleaning
Considering the current situation, you of course want to make sure that every surface in your house stays clean. But don't forget to wear gloves while doing so to save yourself from too much contact with drying chemicals. Especially when washing dishes, gloves will save your hands.
Pick ingredients that heal
Sometimes precautions are not enough, and you might end up with cracks on your hands. In this case, switch to skin healing and repairing ointments or heavy-duty creams. Products that include substances like dexpanthenol, hamamelis, madecassoside and zinc oxide can provide a protective layer and heal your skin. You should try to avoid perfumed products as well when choosing ointments and creams, as dyes and fragrances can also lead to eczema.
Try a home remedy
Plastic is terrible for the environment, but it can sometimes provide surprising benefits, says Pırmıt. During the evening after applying your ointment or cream, wrap your hands with plastic wrap and leave them like that for a few hours. You could also try wearing cotton gloves. The wrap will help the absorption of the cream and speed up the process of healing.