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For the past couple of years, we have been told to “wash our hands”, but is hand washing really that good for you? As it turns out, it might do more harm than good depending on which product you use, hand sanitizer or soap, and how often you use it. Before we dwell deeper on the debate of hand sanitizers vs soap, let us first take a look at why dry hands can occur from too much hand washing.

Dry, cracked skin on hands

Your skin health is important. It is what protects you against harmful bacteria, germs and viruses. There are, however, good bacteria already present in your skin. Think of it this way…

Your skin is like an immunity barrier that stops harmful pathogens from making their way inside you where they can do damage. If you use too much hand sanitizer, you are going to kill good bacteria that were meant to protect you in the first place.

On the case of dry hands, this is exactly what happens when there is too much hand washing going on. You remove the oils and good bacteria in your hands which leaves you with dry, irritated skin. And guess what? Once the detergent is all gone and is no longer effective, you are left with damaged hands and a worse immune system.

Overusing hand sanitizer is damaging your skin and your immune system!1

Not everyone will experience dry hands with the same intensity; although too much hand sanitizing can lead to a skin condition known as dermatitis2.

With that said, what can be done about it? We still need to wash our hands in order to fight bacteria, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, there are solutions as we will see below.

Desert scenery to represent dry hands.

Hand sanitizers vs soap

As it turns out, soap does less damage to your hands than alcohol-base hand sanitizers. Therefore, if you can use soap, do it or at least use alcohol-free hand sanitizers. If you must use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, there are other ways to mitigate the damage done to your hands that you can follow, especially if frequent hand washing is a must for you. Here are a few tips about what to do when it comes to washing your hands:

  • Use warm water instead of hot water
  • Apply a moisturizer after washing them
  • Use fragrance-free cleansers if you have allergic reactions to them3

All in all, what matters is not always how often you clean your hands, but which product you use to clean them. It is indeed needed to have clean hands in order to reduce the risk of virus propagation. Sometimes though, too much cleanliness can be just as bad as not enough.

Life of viruses and bacteria on surfaces

As an additional note, viruses and bacteria do not live on surfaces indefinitely. In fact, their lifespan on surfaces, especially on your hands, tends to be rather short as you can see in this article about the life of viruses and bacteria on surfaces.

References

  1. https://www.vchri.ca/stories/2020/06/22/ask-expert-my-hands-are-dry-and-cracked-washing-them-so-often-how-can-i-get-my
  2. https://www.healthing.ca/wellness/skin-health/dry-hands-sanitizer/
  3. https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/soap-vs-hand-sanitizers-and-7-recommendations-to-avoid-dry-hands/

You can read these articles too: 

A Commercial and House Cleaning Service for VOCs

Flu, Cold Viruses Live on Surfaces for a While – Bacteria Too