Washing Your Hands Regularly is Just the Beginning
Washing and Purell-ing our hands regularly is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus spread, but it’s not the only good skincare rule to put into practice during these hypervigilant times.
White Plains Hospital Dermatologist Dr. Athena Kaporis discusses four critical skincare rules that directly or indirectly help contain the spread of the virus:
Rule 1: Moisturize
“Overwashing hands can lead to hand dermatitis, including eczema, fissures, and dry, red, scaly skin, which can then be a portal of entry for germs,” notes Dr. Kaporis. “Chronic hand-washing and sanitizing can strip your skin of its natural oils, and can also diminish the natural flora of bacteria that inhabit our skin that actually help prevent unwanted bacteria from colonizing the skin.”
Dr. Kaporis suggests treating hands after every hand-washing with a moisture-replacing product like CeraVe, Eucerin or Lubriderm to prevent dermatitis. For severely irritated or red skin, use OTC hydrocortisone and Aquaphor or a petroleum jelly product, which is soothing and helps to lock in moisture.
Rule 2: Use Gloves the Right Way
Gloves have suddenly become a wardrobe essential these days, which Dr. Kaporis encourages when used appropriately:
- Vinyl or rubber gloves can protect you from handling contaminated items.
- Rubber gloves can help to protect already raw hands from further abuse when doing housework and dishwashing.
- For extra dry hands, consider wearing cotton gloves over moisturized hands overnight to help them heal.
- Just keep in mind that you should treat these the same way you treat your bare hands. Wash or use sanitizer consistently to prevent spreading germs, and remember to dispose of them correctly!
Rule 3: Wash Your Hands Before Your Face
But isn’t cleansing the face with your hands essentially killing two birds with one stone? Not necessarily, notes Dr. Kaporis. “Your hands and your face are both hotbeds of microbial activity, which is easily transferred from one place to the other,” she says. “It’s crucial to wash your hands before touching or doing anything to your face to avoid cross-contamination.”
Rule 4: Soak Up Protection
A daily dose of sunshine (sans sunscreen) on your face and hands for just 10-15 minutes a day is one way to get adequate vitamin D, a vital nutrient for many bodily functions, including muscle function, thinking skills, as well as healthy skin.
If the sun is not available or you must minimize your sun exposure, then supplements are an excellent source of vitamin D. Dr. Kaporis suggests a daily intake of 400-800IU, or up to 2,000IU if you are very deficient, to raise vitamin D levels.
Dr. Athena Kaporis is a dermatologist with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates – Westchester Dermatology and Mohs Surgery in Mount Kisco.
For information or to make an appointment, call Dr. Kaporis’ office at (914) 242-2020.