As a doctor, I wash or disinfect my hands more than 100 times a few days, so I have learned so much that I have to look after my skin.
Now everyone is going to follow a hand hygiene like the one we have in hospitals. If you follow the danish health and safety advice on hand hygiene to the letter, there is therefore a risk that your hands will end up with dry and cracked skin.
Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. But dermatologists are now warning that our new habits can cause skin problems. The barrier function is destroyed and immunological tolerance is disrupted with an increased risk of skin allergies. Soap and water may wash away dirt and viruses, but unfortunately it also removes the protective oils in your skin, causing it to dry out.
Alcohol-based hand cleaning agents can be varied that irritate less and kill viruses. But alcohol doesn't remove dirt and impurities, so we don't completely get around the frequent hand washing.
Therefore, be picky when choosing your hand soap. Use a moisturising allergy-free soap. Wash your hands gently in lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds, then dry them gently. Pat or dab them dry instead of rubbing.
When the hands are dry, it is important to keep the skin moist. If the skin is cracked and rough, the barrier function is damaged and it gives bacteria and viruses free play. The effect of hand alcohol is also not optimal on damaged skin. It can therefore end in a vicious circle, where due to pain and stinging, you cut down on the sink and disinfection. Therefore, add your skin moisture, and make it a firm habit to finish hand washing with a bold softening moisturizer. You can vary with lotion if your hands are well groomed and don't need as much moisture.
Please bring your own soap and cream, just as you might bring hand sanitizer, and you'll know what you're exposing your skin to.
Keeping your hands in good condition is important to me as a health worker, but now we are all in the same boat – so take care of your skin, it is necessary for you to take care of yourself as well as others during this time.
Kaspar Nielsen, Doctor, Zero Allergy.