Professionals who work in the medical industry need to wash their hands regularly throughout the day. For those of us with constant sparkly, clean hands, we know that we are running a fine line between cleanliness and contact dermatitis. Here are some helpful tips to reduce that risk and make each day more comfortable.

Turn Down The Heat

Washing your hands with hot water strips them of their natural oils and exacerbates dermatitis. Rather choose warm or tepid water and focus on the length of time spent washing your hands rather than blasting them with heat. Twenty seconds is the recommended amount of time (or the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune twice). Wash the palms, back of hands, fingers and in between fingers, wrists and fingernails. 

Softer Soap

Be careful which soap you are using. Take the time to read the ingredients. You don’t need nuclear-powered bars of soap; a regular type of soap is sufficient. Make sure you use a lot of it and wash your hands for twenty seconds. The amount of soap and time are the key factors in removing bacteria. Microtol Plus Liquid soap is recommended over bars of soap as the bar binders have a high pH. Choose a liquid soap with ingredients like glycerine, aloe vera oil or lanolin. Be soft in your washing action as well.

Barrier Cream

Not many people know this, but water evaporating off the skin’s surface pulls moisture out from deeper in the skin. This is why it is important to moisturise straight after washing your hands (or showering). A very light layer of Microtol Plus barrier cream will suffice, but don’t leave them without cream or you will have dry hands. Thick creams and ointments are recommended as opposed to lotions, as lotions are too diluted and don’t seal in moisture.

Moisturisers actually add moisture and prevent dehydration, but the term anti-dehydrators sounds odd – well, at least nowadays it does. Therefore, the term “barrier” cream is more apt.

Home Glove Treatment

If you are experiencing hand dryness, then a quick home remedy can help. Soak your hands in tepid water for 5 minutes, remove them, pat gently (don’t rub and don’t fully dry them), add barrier cream, put on a pair of gloves and leave them on for up to 2 hours. 

If your hands are in a bad way, then apply a heavier layer of barrier cream and wear the gloves overnight. This will allow for self-healing.

Sanitizers Vs Soap

Gentle hand sanitiser is an option to alleviate the number of hand washes that occur, but it is not a total replacement. Hand washing is essential prior to meals, after using ablution facilities or when your hands are visibly dirty.

Blot, Don’t Rub

As we mentioned in a couple of the above paragraphs, be physically gentle with your hands. This includes not rubbing them dry; just gentle blotting is sufficient. Paper towels are a great option as they absorb fast without abrasion. Replace towels at home at least every 3 days. 

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