Health

Damage from Frequent Hand Washing? Here’s What You Can Do

Image: National Geographic

The coronavirus pandemic has over fix million confirmed cases worldwide and an even increased risk of spread due to mutations that have been noted in the SARS-CoV-2 virus by scientists in the last few weeks. Though it has been argued that the virus has become more contagious and possibly deadlier, the defense mechanisms for the prevention of its spread remain the same.

The practice of hand washing and wearing a mask are not new and have also been a part of several other health epidemics. Research has indicated that washing hands frequently throughout the day is, by far, the most effective way to avoid contracting pathogens, including the coronavirus.

This is the primary reason why health organizations including the World Health Organization and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommend washing hands whenever possible and carrying hand sanitizer for usage when water and soap are not available.

In addition, though wearing masks was debated before, the majority of health experts now agree that wearing masks can significantly help in the case of the coronavirus pandemic as coronavirus spread is usually linked to asymptomatic cases or the people who have been infected but display no signs of it.

Therefore, while wearing a mask in public may not prevent from catching the virus, researchers say that it can stop it from spreading from the infected individual even if he or she does not display symptoms as larger aerosol particles and droplets are blocked by nearly all masks including the usual cloth masks.

At the moment, both the practice of wearing a mask in public and washing hands frequently is fundamental in controlling the ongoing health crisis. The virus can only be stopped from spreading further when people in all countries are playing their part and following all guidelines carefully.

Read also: Coronavirus-related Stress has Long-term Consequences on Children’s Health

On the other hand, not following the instructions can actually lead to an increase in coronavirus spread and prolong the time period of the coronavirus pandemic, which is why health agencies constantly remind people on washing hands, maintaining social distance, and wearing masks.

However, many people have reported that doing practices such as washing hands and wearing a mask constantly has caused a number of inconveniences for them, including damage on the skin of the face and the hands.

A big number of people, especially those with jobs which require washing hands time and again due to coming into contact with people and wearing a mask all the time have reported that the skin on their hands is dry to an extent that it is cracking and peeling off.

The alternative to hand washing, which is using hand sanitizer can further contribute to the issue as it contains drying alcohol which can cause burning and dry the skin further.

In addition, irritation from wearing masks on the face is common not only in front line health care workers but also common people. This usually happens to people with sensitive skin or because of masks that are too tight.

People with certain health conditions including eczema and other skin issues are also experiencing far more severe skin issues from wearing a mask constantly and washing hands. However, health experts have suggested to not discontinue the practices as both are necessary to prevent coronavirus spread.

Instead, health experts suggest using hypoallergenic soaps and moisturizers that can make a significant difference. People with conditions such as contact dermatitis or eczema can use double layers of preferred moisturizer to avoid flare-ups and further skin damage.

Avoid using hot or warm water while washing hands. Whenever possible, try using gloves to do tasks so that hand washing is not required afterward.

When it comes to masks, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask that provides protection and is also gentle on the skin. Make sure the mask is not too tight or loose. Use a mild moisturizer before wearing a mask every time. By following these alternatives, skin damage can be successfully avoided.

About the author

Abeera I. Kazmi

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