Effective Hand Washing & Sanitisation - without skin irritation
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, health officials have emphasised regular and careful washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent spread of infection.
The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) advises people to thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds (or the equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday”) per hand wash to help curb the spread of germs.
In addition, 70% concentration alcohol-based hand sanitisers may be used to further help rid your hands of germs. Keep in mind however, hand sanitisers need to be used in conjunction with soap and water not as a replacement. Hand Sanitisers do not get rid of all germ types.
The downside of the need for more mechanical prevention is the effect of repetitive hand washing. Although this a reliable defence against respiratory illness, this frequency may lead to and/or exacerbate dry skin issues.
There have been many times since taking up the charge to Covid-19 I have felt as though my hands feel more like dehydrated prunes that silky smooth gloves.
There is one step most of us tend to omit after hand washing and/or using hand sanitiser and that is rehydration! Ironically, by over-washing our skin, the skin can develop dry cracks which in turn gives bacteria an easy entry point into the body.
Many people are complaining about a burning sensation on their hands due to the multiple times they wash their hands and use hand sanitiser every day . This may occur even though people are using natural soap and sanitisers which are generally thought to be free from irritating synthetic fragrances, preservatives and petrochemicals.
Reality is, repetitive hand washing can damage the integrity of your skin as a barrier. Signs of a damaged skin barrier are redness, inflammation, itchiness, scaly skin, cracks, even bleeding. For some it can be a debilitating skin condition such as allergic contact dermatitis and eczema.
Of course, we would all choose dry, sore hands over the risk of contracting COVID-19! Fortunately it isn’t an either/or situation and we can take steps to care for our skin’s natural protective barrier.
Remember, our flexible outer casing aka our skin, is designed to protect us from the elements as well as to hold in moisture, produce oils to keep our skin soft and supple, and is also our first line of defence against pathogens entering our bodies. Tight cell junctions prevent microbes from passing through. Therefore anytime there is a lesion, sore or crack, it is easier for irritants and bacteria to penetrate the skin.
LUSCIOUS - HAND & BODY WASH 500ML $12.95
Please be aware we aren’t suggesting that there is no known risk of Coronavirus entering your body through broken skin. However we are highlighting that other types of bacteria may enter the body via broken skin and that healthy skin integrity can affect other aspects of our physical well being. For example, in hospitals an important aspect of basic patient-care is to maintain intact, healthy, moisturised skin.
The following is a bit more general advice regarding what you can do to help avoid damage to your skin from diligent hand hygiene.
1. If you must use soap - Use Real Soap
If you are a fan of using soap, use a good old fashioned soap–either in bar form or liquid soap. Make sure it includes plant-based oils such as coconut, hemp, and jojoba. All of these give soap makers greater control over soap characteristics such as lather, freedom from animal fats (vegan friendly) etc. Soap is meant to be an incredibly simple thing!
Soap was first invented by early humans when fat dripped into the ashes of their fire resulting in a substance that cleansed. Real soap is simply the product of vegetable or animal fat and an alkali (lye, potash or sodium hydroxide). Moisturising glycerine is a by-product of this process, and is traditionally left in the soap. However, mass consumer brands are known to remove the valuable glycerine and sell it off as a premium ingredient, replacing it with cheaper palm oil, tallow or petrochemical oil, along with many other additives.
One option is GreenAddict Luscious - far less likely to dry out your hands!
Water, Vinegar, Essential Oils of Cedarwood, Patchouli, Bergamot + Geranium, Coconut derived Non Ionic Surfactant, Potash, Food Grade Emulsifiers, Vegetable Glycerine, Xanthum Gum
By comparison, other commercial brands contain synthetic detergents, fragrances, and preservatives. No wonder they dry out and irritate your skin!
Commercial soap brand ingredients: No 1
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Tetrasodium Edta, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Alumina, Ci 77891.
Commercial soap brand ingredients: No 2
Sodium Palmate, Aqua, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Talc, Glycerin, Parfum, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Tetrasodium [DTA, Ettdronic Acid, Coumarin, Eugenol, Dnaloot, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, (Wane;loll Alpha-lsomethyl lonone, CI 77891, CI 77220, CI 11680, CI 71105, CI 74260, CI 12490.
2. Avoid Oil-Stripping Detergents in Liquid Soap
Many liquid soaps contain detergent rather than soap. Detergent based surfactants are very drying because they are designed to strip oils, just as detergent strips the grease off your dirty dishes. However, you can choose liquid soaps made in the traditional saponification process which don’t have the same effect.
Detergents, even when claimed to be ‘natural’ may be a synthetic substance made in a multi-step process, with names such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Be aware that liquid shampoo and hand wash may be detergents, along with dish washing and laundry detergents. Detergents most often contain NO glycerine and are designed to strip oils. This is why we need to add back some moisture such as conditioners after use.
Not all “naturals” are created equal.
Following is the ingredients of a naturally thick, moisturising liquid soap made from saponification - there is no water in the ingredients.
Saponified soaps of extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, & castor oil, pure water, sodium borate & essential oils of lemon myrtle.
Here are the ingredients of another “natural” liquid hand wash.
This is a detergent-based product with water as the predominant ingredient.
Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cocamidopropyl Betaine [synthetic detergent], Decyl Glucoside [synthetic detergent/surfactant], PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate [synthetic emulsifier/thickener], Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (Chamomile), Yucca Schidigera Root Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract , Rosa Canina Fruit Oil (Rose Hip), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Glycerin, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Vanillin, Sodium Chloride, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol [synthetic preservative], Benzyl Alcohol, Limonene, Linalool.
The vast difference in the ingredients explains why you will find the truly “natural” liquid soap is more expensive per volume, because it is 100% luscious liquid soap and not watered down and filled with synthetic additives. If you wish, you could water down the “natural liquid soap yourself at home.
3. Go Fragrance Free OR eliminate Fragrance Oil
Try to avoid all forms of parfum and synthetic fragrance because they are highly irritating and drying, often being alcohol based. Some people find even some pure essential oils cause contact eczema and irritation.
We highly recommend a creamy soap that contains both soap and moisturiser. One such as GreenAddict Luscious. Other cream soaps made be made from water, saponified oils of Argan Oil, Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Macadamia Oil, and Olive Oil
There are also other quality soap bars that are made purely from certified organic extra virgin olive oil, lye (generally Sodium Hydroxide) and pure essential oils.
4. Apply Moisturiser
After hand-washing, gently pat dry skin until just damp (don’t rub), then apply a liberal amount of nourishing moisturiser. Ideally, a moisturiser without any synthetic fragrances, preservatives or petrochemicals is best.
5. DIY Hand Mask
Just like a face mask, apply an exfoliating and nourishing mask to your hands made using ingredients you can find at home.
Recipe 1: One avocado, 2 tablespoons of raw local honey, 1 tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil, 2 teaspoons of plain yoghurt or water. Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Smear over hands and sit peacefully for 10 minutes allowing the mask to penetrate.
Recipe 2: Simply rub a generous amount of coconut oil into your hands and cuticles. Wrap each hand in a light towel. Sit for 10 minutes. Wipe off excess and allow the remainder to soak in.
Recipe 3: Mix together 1/4 cup of sugar (any sugar you have at home) and 1/8 cup of olive oil or coconut oil. Add juice of half a lemon and mix. Massage the mix all over your hands. Rinse off in warm water. Apply moisturiser.
Before bed, massage a rich moisturising cream into your hands and wear some washable cotton gloves to bed.
6. Wear Gloves When Cleaning
Do as I say don’t do as I do. I am the greatest offender of NEVER wearing gloves whilst cleaning simply because of the non-irritant nature of GreenAddict products doesn’t adversely affect my skin. However, in general I would still recommend to always wear gloves (reusable FSC certified rubber gloves) when washing up and cleaning the home.
Washing up liquids are designed to strip oils and grease from the pots and pans, and they may do the same to your hands. Personally I find the GreenAddict Dish Devotion is only mildly drying. However everybody’s natural skin moisture is different and due to the increase of hand washing these day your hands may not be able to tolerate even a gentle washing up detergent. Similarly, the harsher action of all cleaning products even the GreenAddict cleaning products may irritate your skin. Better to be safe than sorry !
This post is not medical advice. If your hands are red, inflamed, itchy, swollen or painful, be sure to seek advice from a medical practitioner.