How to prevent dry skin when washing hands more frequently

Skin Care

We’re living in, what we can all agree, are very strange times. And while we adapt to the changes in our daily lives, one thing has already become well and truly rooted in the ‘norm’ – and that’s washing our hands more frequently, and for longer, than ever before.

So, what does all this extra handwashing mean for your skin?

As we shared a little while ago, research shows that washing your skin can have a detrimental effect if the skin is not cared for, and more so when living in areas where hard water comes out of your taps and shower. This is because the higher instances of magnesium and calcium in hard water damage the protective barrier found naturally on the skin, and can therefore lead to very dry skin and even skin conditions like eczema. You can find out how hard the water is in your area over on our water quality test.

We know this is a strange time. And we know there are bigger issues than just dry hands. But we also know that dry hands are uncomfortable and can be sore. Here, we’ll share our top tips to protect your hands while washing more frequently. We hope these small things can help your hands feel more comfortable. Keep on washing!

1. Wash off all products

The minerals within hard water bond to the soap, making it more difficult to properly rinse the layer of product from your skin. This can aggravate skin conditions by drying out the skin as the product sits on the surface. Ensure that you have thoroughly washed off any soap residue that may be left behind.

2. Use temperate water

Using overly hot or cold water can also be detrimental to our skin, so where possible try and use water that is body temperature or just above.

3. Don’t over moisturise

Many people’s first attempt at preventing dry skin is to moisturise as much as possible. Your skin is already going through an intensive washing process, so try not to over-moisturise, particularly with heavily scented products that may have a lot of chemicals in them which might actually make skin conditions worse. The best moisturisers for eczema or dry skin are unscented.

4. Use gloves to protect yourself

Although it might not be suitable all of the time, wearing gloves in a public place will allow you to avoid touching surfaces with your bare hands. It’s important to still wash your hands of course, but this may decrease the frequency somewhat of having to do so.

Why does handwashing cause dry hands?

You, like most people, may be finding that washing your hands more frequently is causing the skin on your hands to feel dry, maybe tight and even uncomfortable. For those people with existing conditions like eczema, more frequent handwashing can exacerbate the symptoms.

The reason for this is that our skin naturally has a protective layer that stops us being as affected by the daily stresses of life. Your skin is an amazing thing and it protects your whole body, so it’s well worth taking care of it! When we wash our hands or other skin, though, we can sometimes damage that protective layer – meaning our skin responds with dryness or flaking.

This is particularly prominent in areas where the water is what we call hard. This means the water has higher than average instances of magnesium and calcium; if you have hard water, you’ll likely see more limescale in your home (that white stuff around your kettle, taps and shower head/screen). Most homes in the UK, especially in the midlands and south, do suffer with hard water.

It is, of course, essential that we do wash our hands thoroughly and more frequently as this time, with advice from the NHS stating that this is one of the most effective methods of protecting ourselves against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But it is also worth taking note of the tips above to protect your skin and keep it feeling softer and more comfortable.

If you want to find out more about treatments for hard water, take a look at our water softener page, or feel free to get in touch using our live chat area.

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