Dermatologist warns: "Hand disinfection and cold cause skin problems"
We all learned it: good hand hygiene is one of the top five ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus. That is why we all use soap and water, but also hydroalcoholic gel to avoid transmitting the virus by contact.
However, this, used in excess and while it is colder, can be harmful. "If you are prone to eczema and dry skin, this hydroalcoholic gel dries even more," explains dermatologist Jos Vanhee. He gives some tips to keep the gel an asset.
Hydroalcoholic gel bottles are now an integral part of our daily life. And for good reason, while regular hand washing is essential to stopping the coronavirus epidemic, we do not always have a tap and soap available. Effective in removing viral particles, we also suspect, or already noticed, that it can cause some skin discomfort. Dermatologist Jos Vanhee confirms and explains.
How exactly does this gel work on our hands?
Jos Vanhee: "The hydroalcoholic gel allows a short-term disinfection and allows to kill the virus present on the hands. So it only has a superficial effect. The flora of the skin (microorganisms such as bacteria) is restored for a few minutes and remains anyway in the pores. The biggest problem with hydroalcoholic gel is that it has a degreasing effect. Obviously, this damages the skins lipid film. People with normal skin, not too dry, will not bother much. But in those who are prone to eczema or dry skin, the gel will make the problem worse. It is seen especially in people with manual trades such as hairdressers, nurses, bricklayers or handymen. But with soap it is not better: it degreases even more than the gel and therefore causes even more skin discomfort, "he explains.
How does skin dryness occur?
"The first step is the cracking of the skin. We see microcracks appear, if they deepen, they turn into cracks. External factors, such as hair dye that hairdressers often handle, can penetrate deeper into the protective layer of the skin and irritate the cells. We are witnessing an inflammation. In reaction, the cells will try to renew themselves more quickly. But this reconstruction is somewhat sloppy and therefore less effective. It is a vicious cycle because it leads to new lesions and eczema. This process it is aggravated by the repeated use of hydroalcoholic gel and soap. People who have a favorable terrain suffer more in this period of health crisis, but we see that these evils appear more and more people ".
But how do we protect our hands?
"If you feel like your skin is getting rough, act quickly. Use hand cream. It does not matter which brand, as long as you apply it regularly. In small amounts, because a thick layer is useless and your hands will stick. Do it at regular intervals, establish a routine. This is the only way to fight dryness. How often? Depends on your job and your skin type. I disinfect my hands between visits. That is why I moisturize my hands every other hours. But I do not usually have eczema or dry skin at the base. For those who are in this case, approximately 20% of the population, it is necessary to apply cream more frequently. For people with sensitive or reactive skin, I recommend using a hypoallergenic cream, which can be found both in pharmacies and supermarkets. And also alternate between soap and hydroalcoholic gel. Personally, I do it three out of four times with gel and one out of four with soap and water ". adds the dermatologist.