Washing your hands frequently (and properly) is of paramount importance these days, especially when it comes to preventing the spread of germs and viruses — including coronavirus.
Most of us already know how and when to wash our hands, thanks to constant reminders in bathrooms, workplaces and even on TikTok. But all that washing can take its toll, leaving previously supple skin feeling rough, red or cracked.
Fox News spoke with Dr. Samer Jaber, the founder of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City, for help keeping our hands from becoming dry, cracked and rough — and how to repair them if they do.
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“Everyone should listen closely to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the NIH (National Institutes of Health),” Jaber urged, in reference to their guidelines for washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
“I think that’s super important, keeping your hands clean,” he added, telling Fox News that he always carries an alcohol-based hand sanitizer wherever he goes. (Jaber says hand sanitizers should contain at least 60 percent alcohol, too, as “anything less may be ineffective.”)
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“The problem when you excessively wash your hands, though, is that you get dry, inflamed, itchy hands… I’ve been seeing it a lot over the past few days, actually. Patients [are] coming in with these dry, cracked, itchy hands,” he said.
Preventing rough skin can be as simple as switching to a fragrance-free hand soap, which may contain fewer irritants. But Jaber also recommends carrying hand moisturizer for use after washing and drying your hands, suggesting a cream or an ointment rather than a lotion, as lotions are usually thinner and often contain alcohol.
“Lotions can be great, but creams or ointments are thicker. Vaseline is an ointment, and it really locks things in,” Jaber said. Jaber further advised against fragranced moisturizers, as they may contain irritants.
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For hands with a propensity to itch or bleed when dry, Jaber told Fox News he often recommends that his patients slather their hands in Vaseline and put on white cotton gloves right before bed.
“If you sleep in them, your hands will feel rejuvenated in the morning,” he said.
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And if all else fails, it’s probably time to visit a dermatologist.
“If it’s persistent — irritated and itchy and bothering — see a dermatologist,” advised Jaber, who explained that doctors may be able to provide topical creams or non-steroid creams that can really help.
“There’s no reason to suffer if you have it,” Jaber added. “And it’s quite easy to see a dermatologist.”