With the global spread of COVID-19, the importance of hand hygiene is more important than ever. In fact, The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending frequent handwashing to protect from COVID-19.
While hand washing is a crucial step in stopping the spread of infection and disease, frequently washing hands with eczema can actually exacerbate symptoms. Keep reading for our best tips on how to wash hands with eczema to avoid skin irritation while eradicating bacteria.
Please keep in mind that although what we discuss in this post can relieve eczema, we are in no way medical professionals. If you’re experiencing severe eczema symptoms like an infection, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.
Skin Conditions and Handwashing
For those suffering from dry skin or skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis, excessive hand washing can lead to damaged or sore skin. This is because the frequent contact of soap and water can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing the skin to dry out and eczema to flare. Even the use of hand sanitizers for eczema can compromise the skin barrier and increase the risk of infection.
Why to Not Use Hand Sanitizer for Eczema
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can alter the natural pH of the skin, resulting in disruption of the skin barrier. This allows allergens and bacteria to penetrate the skin and in turn, possibly cause inflammation.
The alcohol found in hand sanitizers is also extremely drying, even more than soap.
However, during these difficult times it could be difficult to avoid hand sanitizers. First and foremost, it's imperative to protect ourselves. Ideally, washing your hands with natural and gentle soaps will be most beneficial.
If you absolutely must use hand sanitizer, we recommend applying a natural moisturizer like our Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream immediately after. This soothing cream is best for locking in moisture skin so desperately requires from constant hand washing.
How to Wash Hands with Eczema
Experts recommend thoroughly washing your hands - including the tops and palms of the hands, wrists and between the fingers - for at least 20 seconds. Because hot water can aggravate eczema symptoms, we recommend using lukewarm water instead.
It’s important to choose the right soap to wash your hands with. Unfortunately, many soaps contain harsh chemicals or toxins which can irritate your already sensitive skin. Natural soaps, such as this Tallow Bar Soap with Zinc or this 20% Pine Tar Soap, are best.
For washing, we like to sing our eczema song to make sure we're properly removing all dirt and bacteria from our hands.
After washing and rinsing, pat dry your hands with a towel to avoid further irritation from rubbing. It’s actually important to dry your hands immediately as germs are transferred more easily between wet hands.
To counteract the drying effects of water on the skin, be sure to apply a good moisturizer right after you wash your hands. We recommend this Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream. Made with just six ingredients - including Manuka honey - this oil-based balm hydrates even the driest of skin. To really lock in the moisture and help the emollients permeate the skin, combine treatment with wet wrap or dry wrap therapy.
For more tips on dealing with hand dermatitis and hygiene, check out our blog post, How to Treat Eczema on Hands.
Protecting your Hands
Without a doubt, your hands are one of your most actively used body parts. This can make it even more challenging to get through everyday life without further aggravating your skin condition. Thankfully, there are gloves to protect your hands from all the irritants and allergens they come into contact with on a regular basis. As a bonus, the gloves can also protect your skin from relentless scratching! Check out our favourite gloves for treating eczema or protecting sensitive skin:
Remedywear™ (TENCEL + Zinc) Gloves - Soothe eczema or other itchy skin conditions with these Remedywear™ gloves. Made with eco-friendly TENCEL and embedded with anti-inflammatory zinc (which is clinically proven to help reduce itching), they’re the perfect eczema hand treatment for day or night. These gloves also feature a bit of latex-free elastane for stretch so you don’t need to worry about them sliding off or rubbing sensitive eczema on hands. Also available for kids.
Remedywear™ Fingerless Gloves - Also available for adults, these fingerless gloves were specially designed for eczema on the wrist and palms. Featuring natural moisture-wicking properties that prevent sweaty irritation, they’re made with TENCEL and anti-inflammatory zinc to provide soothing relief. The soft, breathable fabric truly fits like a second skin.
ScratchSleeves with Mittens - These anti scratch mittens are specifically designed to protect sensitive skin in babies and children. Made with 100% stretch cotton sleeves and silk mittens, they’re comfortable to wear during the day or at night to protect the skin from unconscious scratching. The best part, they stay put!
Bamboo Eczema Gloves - These super soft, biodegradable gloves are not only perfect for keeping skin protected, but they can help moisturize hands that have become increasingly dry and itchy from constant hand washing. They also work great for both dry and wet wrap therapy. Also available for kids.
Bio: Laura is a contributor and content developer for The Eczema Company. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes.