Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, frequent hand hygiene and the use of hydroalcoholic gel have become essential in our daily life. However, this frequent hand hygiene can promote dry skin and even the appearance of cracks. For this reason, I have dedicated this article to reviewing the characteristics of the skin of our hands and tips for its care during coronavirus.
How is the skin of the hands?(1)
The skin of the hands is divided into two parts, that of the back and that of the palm of the hand. The skin of the hands is sensitive, it can be compared to certain areas of the skin of the face, due to its sensitivity.
The back skin It is a thin skin, it has hardly any fatty tissue, it is made up of a few hairs, that is to say it contains few sebaceous glands. This area of the skin looks like the delicate area around the eyes and neck.
The palm skin It has a thicker and more robust corneal layer, it is rich in fatty tissue and cognitive tissue, it lacks sebaceous glands, it has a large number of sweat glands, it lacks natural moisturizing factors.
Because the skin of the back is different from that of the palm of the hand, the skin is more vulnerable to dehydration as the overall formation of the hydrolipyle film is weakened.
What external factors affect the skin of the hands?
During the day, the hands are exposed to factors external e internal that harm the welfare state of the hands.
The external factors These are the sun, the cold, tobacco, friction, detergents, etc.
The internal factors it is about age, stress, mood or illness.
The hands are one of the most exposed and visible organs, which can hardly be improved with surgical treatment.
How does the use of hydroalcoholic gel and its frequent washing affect the hands?
The dermatological manifestation observed due to the continued use of soaps and detergents is irritant contact dermatitis. Alcohol consumption usually manifests a burning sensation, this is due to the change in the skin barrier due to frequent use. (2) (3)
All of this sets off a series of events; Increasing hand washing changes the natural protective barrier of the skin. Because of this, it increases colonization of Staphylococcus aureus, appearing dermatitis localized to the area, or it may worsen in patients with atopic dermatitis.(2)
How to take care of your hands?
- Glove protection: If it’s cold, cover your hands with gloves to protect them from the elements. If you are going to use chemicals or detergents, protect them as well.
- Washing with lukewarm water: Hot water dries the skin a lot and causes dehydration, it is best to wash it with lukewarm water.
- Hand exfoliation: Once a week, apply an exfoliant to remove dead cells from the area.
- Creams with SPF protection factor: In addition to providing hydration to the skin of the hands, thanks to the sun protection factor (SPF), they protect them from the harmful effects of the sun such as spots on the back of the hands.
- Hand mask: It is ideal for providing extra hydration. This can be done by applying a cream with great moisturizing potential at night and covering it with a glove.
- Manicure: Apply a mask on them and oil on the cuticles to keep them healthy.
How do you choose a good hand soap?(4)
Frequent hand washing removes the oil which forms a protective layer on the skin. To help preserve this layer, it is important to choose a specific hand care soap. Ingredients to avoid are perfumes, as they can cause skin irritation.
They should have a pH similar to that of the skin 5.5, the best to use would be synthetic surfactants and syndet.
Ingredients that may contain a good hand soap:
- Sodium stearate.
- Potassium stearate.
- Sodium alloy.
- Sodium palmitate.
- Oleic acid or palmitic acid.
As a great philosopher said: If you don’t know what to do with your hands, turn them into hugs. (Jacques Salome)
I encourage you to offer all the advice your patients need for the care of their hands through your pharmacy.
Pharmacy assistant specializing in dermopharmacy, natural cosmetics and herbal medicine
- Eucerin. Understanding the skin in different parts of the body. [Internet] [citado 11 feb 2021]. Available in: https://www.eucerin.es/acerca-de-la-piel/conocimientos-basicos-sobre-la-piel/la-piel-en-diferentes-partes-del-cuerpo
- GA Johnston, JSC English Source: Commentary and objective summary: Dra Geraldina Rodríguez British Journal of Dermatology. Vol 157. I: 1. Page 1-3. July 2007. Available on: https://www.intramed.net/contenidover.asp?contenidoid=48808#:~:text=El%20estudio%20de%20L%C3%B6ffler%20y,el%20punto%20de%20vista%20dermatol%C3%B3gico.
- J. Espinosa. Do you know how hand sanitizer gel affects your skin? Umivale. [Internet]. Jul 27, 2020 [citado 11 feb 2021]. Available in: https://umivale.es/blog/competitividad/noticia-absentismo/dynacontent/como-afecta-el-gel-hidroalcoh-lico-y-el-lavado-de-manos-a-tu-piel
- A D. Cosmetics and dermopharmacy course. Module 2: Quality. [Internet]. [citado 11 feb 2021]. Available in: https://formacionpermanente.uned.es/tp_actividad/idactividad/9246