how to wash your hands

How to Care for Over-Washed Hands

By now we have all picked our twenty second song or mantra for giving our hands a thorough washing. Just in case you missed the memo or you haven’t bought into how important handwashing is we are going to give you some studies to read and give you an overview of the proper way to wash your hands before we discuss how dry your hands are from all that washing. As we begin to open back up the fundamentals are more important than ever.

Some Data on Handwashing

  • A 2018 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that people fail to wash their hands “properly” 97 percent of the time (What the what!?).
  • This study from published by mSphere (an open access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology), researchers found that hand-washing under running water removed the flu virus from hands faster than did a dab of alcohol sanitizer.

When to Wash Your Hands

The CDC has some recommendations for when to wash your hands. In addition to this list we have made it a habit that when we cross a threshold of a new building we wash our hands. That trigger has helped a lot.

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Soap and water is the best way to kill germs and prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Here are five steps required for a good cleanse:

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water
  2. Apply soap and lather
  3. Rub your hands together vigorously for 20 seconds — remembering to scrub the fronts and backs of the hands, in between the fingers, the tops and under your fingernails, and don’t forget your thumbs.
  4. Rinse thoroughly in warm running water
  5. Pat dry with a clean towel or air dry

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when a sink isn’t available, but it’s not a substitute for soap and water. Make sure the sanitizer you choose has at least 60% alcohol. For best results, rub your hands together as if you are washing with soap and water until the alcohol evaporates.

How to Care for Over-Washed Hands

If you are anything like us, you already were washing your hands often, so the increase has left your skin barrier dry and chapped. You may even have some hangnails starting to form. Here’s a few tips on how to keep your hands, nails, and cuticles moisturized and protected.

1. Wash with Warm Water

Cool or lukewarm water will still kill germs and bacteria, while not being as harsh/drying on your skin.

2. Use Gentle/Moisturizing Soaps

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that 19 ingredients found in “antibacterial” soaps were no more effective than their non-antibacterial counterparts. This means there is no reason to not reach for a milder, not to mention better smelling alternative.

Some of our favorites are: Dr. Bronner’s, Compagnie de Provence Savon de Marseille Extra Pure Liquid Soap, Saipua, and Sappo Hill Soaps.

3. Pat Dry

Basically, treat your hands with the same care that you would give to your face. Blot or pat dry to avoid stripping your skin any more than necessary.

4. Apply Moisturizer After Washing

Moisturizers don’t really moisturize. They lock in the moisture that you have already exposed your skin to. To bind in moisture and water use your product with in 5 minutes of washing up.

Our favorite: Nourish Balm

5. Wear Gloves Overnight

To give your hands a deep moisturizing treatment, soak them in water for 5 minutes. If you want to get fancy you can infuse the water with some calming herbs like calendula, comfrey, and/or elder flowers. Then blot dry and apply Nourish Balm all over your hands and rub into cuticles. Slip your hands into some cotton gloves and leave on overnight.

If you don’t have gloves you can pick some up here.

We hope you learned something new to add to this fundamental wellness habit. Wishing you good health!

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