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    Washed Out: How To Protect Your Hands From Excessive Hand Washing

    So by now, if you’re following CDC guidance, your hands are looking pretty raw and unhappy. Because, as you know, hand washing has been promoted as one of the primary and most important ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And it’s not just the once over under the sink: The advice is to thoroughly and assertively wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. For a valuable tutorial on how to do something you thought you already learned way back when, get the suds ready and click here.


    But the public advice about hand washing leaves out one important component: Without an accompanying moisturizer, the skin on your hands is likely to be left cracked and inflamed, even putting you at more risk of infection. As a dermatologist recently said in Self magazine, “When you wash your hands, ‘you’re literally drawing moisture out of the skin and stripping it of the natural healthy fats that are supposed to be there,’… And things like using hot water, using harsh antibacterial soaps, and not moisturizing afterward can make all of that worse.” Also, as a recent Washington Post article noted, soap and alcohol sanitizers are not as effective if your hands are breaking down from too much harsh washing.


    So what’s the advice when it comes to handwashing and hand moisturizing? First, you don’t need harsh or antibacterial soaps to eliminate the virus. It’s not so much the soap itself as the physical friction of the washing that kills the virus. Second, your handwashing water need not be scolding hot, but can be merely lukewarm. (Very hot water will only further dry out the skin on your hands). Third, before you completely dry your hands, put on some moisturizer on those damp hands. And while you’re practicing social distancing? Do so with your moisturizer as well- everyone should have their own bottle, and there should be no sharing so as to limit the spread of infection.


    And what about brands of moisturizer? Nothing fancy needed- the drugstore options should be fine. One brand that agebuzz Managing Editor Connie Zuckerman especially likes (and  recommended by New York Dermatologist Jessica Krant) is Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream– easy to purchase and relatively inexpensive- and leaves hands feeling moist without being greasy.


    One final question about handwashing you may be wondering about: What to do about the rings on your fingers? Should you take them off when hand washing? While it may be important to rinse the rings as well as your hands, as the virus could live on some ring surfaces, wearing your rings while vigorously washing could also cause additional irritation and potentially put the gems or stones on your rings at risk (hand sanitizer can also damage organic gems such as pearls or coral). Best advice? If in doubt, remove your rings and wash them separately with mild dish detergent. For more info on jewelry and hand washing, take out your jewelry case and read more here