Washing hands and wearing face masks are key steps to preventing COVID-19. But they can dry out your skin and cause acne. Here's how to help.
Most people are washing their hands or using hand sanitizer more frequently these days. Many are also wearing face masks when in public or during work shifts, often for hours at a time.
These measures are key to reducing the spread of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). But they can irritate and damage your skin. Making a few skin care changes for your hands and face can help counteract these effects.
One of the most important things you can do to protect against COVID-19 is to keep your hands clean and free from germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
But lots of hand washing can strip your hands of their natural oils. To prevent dry, cracked skin:
Be gentle on your hands. Use cool or lukewarm water with soap to wash your hands. Hot water isn't any more helpful against germs that can make you sick. And hot water can increase skin damage.
Avoid antibacterial cleansers. They aren't that useful for preventing infectious disease. And they contain chemicals such as fragrance that can irritate skin.
Wear gloves when cleaning to protect your skin. Disinfectants for cleaning surfaces are effective against germs, but some of the ingredients can be harsh on your hands.
Moisturize, moisturize. After washing your hands, gently rinse and pat them dry. Right after, apply plenty of moisturizer. If your hands still feel dry after a minute or so, apply more. Use a moisturizer that's hypoallergenic and free of fragrances and dyes that can irritate your skin. Keep the moisturizer handy -- next to bathroom and kitchen sinks, in your car or at your workspace. Make it easy to repeat this critical step.