We all were under the notion that if we don’t have a bar of soap lying around, we can rely on a hand sanitizer to keep our hands ‘coronavirus-free.’ At the outset of the coronavirus, the CDC and WHO advised people to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The organizations also mention “that in case of the unavailability of soap and water, you can clean your hands using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer”.
However, there’s a problem with the same. Health experts claim that using a hand sanitizer extensively can kill the good bacteria on your skin and make the skin excessively dry. Seems like a catch-22 situation, right?
Why Should I Avoid Using a Hand Sanitizer?
Even though the coronavirus cases in the country are on the verge of crossing a daily mark of 50,000, the Health Ministry has some advice to share with everyone. Dr. RK Verma, additional director-general of Health Services, Ministry of Health, says, “These are unprecedented times, no one thought that a viral outbreak of this magnitude will occur. Use a mask to protect yourself, drink hot water frequently, and wash hands vigorously. Don’t overuse hand sanitizer.”
Microbiologist’s across the globe claim that using a hand sanitizer excessively can kill the good bacteria of your skin. Dermatologists suggest that it can even lead to skin diseases such as hand eczema or hand dermatitis. In such a condition, the skin of your hand undergoes inflammation resulting in redness, dryness, and itching.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can alter the natural pH and barrier of your skin. In such cases, allergens (allergy-causing agents) can penetrate your skin and cause hand dermatitis. Usually, hand dermatitis is seen in people with long-term exposure to detergents or healthcare workers who wash their hands frequently. This condition can also be genetic or environmental.
Is There a Cure for Hand Dermatitis?
Your dermatologist will generally prescribe you some corticosteroids to reduce skin inflammation if you have hand dermatitis. Furthermore, if you’re suffering from this condition, then you can take several steps to take care of your hands:
- Firstly, switch to the good old soap and water to clean your hands. Avoid cleaning your hands with a hand sanitizer as much as possible. Clean your hands before and after going to the bathroom and do the same during the meals. Also, avoid touching any surfaces at public places and if you do, then wash your hands after it.
- You can even use a mild hand wash instead of soaps with harsh chemicals.
- After washing your hands with soap and water, always pat them dry with a towel and apply some moisturizer on them.
- A dermatitis flare-up can crack up your palm crease and make it bleed. Under such circumstances, you must soak your hands in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes. After this, you can apply a petroleum or glycerin based ointment on your hands.
Even though practising proper hygiene in the times of the coronavirus is necessary, it’s best to update your routing according to government guidelines. For now, the government and FDA have advised people to limit cleaning their hands with a hand sanitizer. I guess what they say is true; old is indubitably gold! So, switch to soap and water to keep your hands healthy and your family safe!