Handwashing is imperative for health and one of the most important things we can to reduce the risk of picking up and spreading germs to others. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, handwashing is the number one thing you can do to safeguard against infecting yourself and spreading this highly contagious virus.
How often should you be washing your hands?
Handwashing should be done frequently throughout the day. As soon as you have touched a high contact hard surface area such as stainless steel or plastic, coughed, sneezed, used the bathroom, after using public transport, holding handrails, e.g. on an escalator, before preparing food or eating, wash your hands! Soft surfaces and fabric also harbour the virus but they last on these surfaces for a shorter time. If in doubt, just keep on washing! Hands should be washed thoroughly with hand soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Soap and water physically remove bacteria and viruses. Clean between the fingers, under the nails which are best kept short and under rings which are ideally removed. It is better not to use anything abrasive on the hands as with repeated use this can damage the skin’s barrier.
Using soap and water is more effective than using hand sanitiser and less drying for the skin, but hand sanitisers are a very good option for when you’re out and about and don’t have access to running water.
Remember not to touch your face – the virus can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth which act as a pathway to the throat and lungs and do not bite your nails.
Dry hands properly
Drying your hands properly after washing is essential as the transmission of bacteria and viruses is more likely to occur from wet skin.
Single-use paper hand towels are more hygienic than electric hand dryers in reducing the risk of transmitting viruses. If using a hand dryer, ensure hands are dried thoroughly – do not finish the drying process by wiping hands-on jeans or clothing- these may not be clean and may transfer infection back onto the hands.
In the home, cloth hand towels should be changed frequently, especially if used by several people, to prevent transmission of infection.
With all of the handwashing currently happen, our skin can be left feeling dry, sore and irritated as the integrity of the skin becomes damaged, leaving it open to infection. It’s important to nourish with moisturiser, under no circumstances should you stop or reduce the handwashing! Ensure your hands are dried thoroughly before applying.
Making your own sanitiser
There is currently a shortage of hand sanitisers and many people are heading to their pantries to make their own. If you are planning to so, it’s important to be mindful of the ingredients you are using. Many of the recipes include vodka as an ingredient, however, the alcohol content of an effective product needs to be greater than 60 per cent to kill the virus so you need to use Rubbing alcohol which has an alcohol concentration of 99% rather than vodka at 40%.
Dr Susan Mayou shared her advice with Elle magazine and recommended some of her favourite hand creams for moisturising dry skin. View her recommendations here.
If your skin is not healing, it may be a sign of an underlying skin condition or you may require treatment to help repair. It’s important to consult with a medical professional.
For consultations with Dr Susan Mayou call 0207 305 5866.