With recent changes brought about by COVID-19, everyone’s using more hand sanitizer. Whether you’re an essential worker out interacting with the public daily or using it for shopping trips and handling food pickups, every squirt of the alcohol-based mixture causes it to dry out. How can you stay safe and still reduce or prevent dry skin?
What is Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer is a mix of alcohol, water, and other ingredients, depending on the brand. It’s used in place of washing with soap and water when proper facilities aren’t available. The link between hygiene and increasing infection rates was discovered in the 1840s and published in the 1860s. Nearly 100 years later, a nursing student produced the first gel-based hand sanitizers for hospitals. For it to be effective against most viruses, including COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that it contains at least 60% alcohol.
How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?
Think of hand sanitizer as the equivalent of soap and water when you can’t get to a sink. The alcohol is what kills the virus. However, the application is a little more complicated. Creams are too thick, and other liquids are too thin. The gel is easy to spread across your hands. This slows down how fast the alcohol dries on your skin, giving it more time to work and eliminate any microbes that might be on the surface.
Why Does Hand Sanitizer Dry Out Skin?
The top layer of your epidermis is coated with oils that protect it. Just like a night out drinking will dehydrate you, the alcohol in these products dry out your skin. Although the body will replenish those oils, it can’t keep up if you’re using the sanitizers several times a day. You don’t have to stop using them. But it is necessary to use specific brands and treat your hands with extra care to help them bounce back from the damage from repeated sanitizer use.
Look for Options with Vitamin E or Aloe
You will find plenty of brands that use more chemicals to prevent products from drying out your hands. These will work, but they’re not the best options. Look for hand sanitizers that use natural ingredients, such as vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that potentially reduces skin damage and helps protect it. It’s also commonly used for nourishing and repairing dry hands.
Like vitamin E, aloe, also known as aloe vera, is derived from the aloe plant. It’s a common ingredient in face creams, moisturizers, and other beauty and health products for its potential to soothe skin, relieve surface pain, and fight bacteria.
Other moisturizing ingredients sometimes used in hand sanitizers include lavender oil and tea tree oil.
Does Hand Sanitizer Lose its Effectiveness With Moisturizers?
No, these won’t lose their effectiveness with vitamin E or aloe. These additional ingredients are used in place of water or propylene glycol, which is cheaper to produce. Additionally, vitamin E may help support a healthy immune system.
What if You Can’t Find Hand Sanitizer with Vitamin E or Aloe?
We get it. Hand sanitizer is selling fast. Even as manufacturers and distributors work tirelessly to keep the shelves stocked, there can be times when you can’t find exactly what you need. While you look for better options, don’t skip the moisturizing lotion. Nonetheless, even if you purchase a great brand with vitamin E, aloe, or even tea tree oil, continue to apply lots of the cream to keep your hands moist and happy.
Nothing Beats Regular Antibacterial Soap and Water
Even after you secure hand sanitizers with quality amounts of vitamin E and aloe, don’t start skipping the soap and water. These products are excellent when you can’t wash your hands, and let’s be honest unless you live next to a kitchen or bathroom all the time, chances are you still need hand sanitizer. However, still, wash your hands with antibacterial soap and rinse with clean, running water as often as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other preventable, communicable diseases.
Remember, not all hand sanitizers are created equal. Always pay attention that the product you’re purchasing contains at least 60% alcohol. Additionally, if you want to lessen how much these dry out your hands, select a brand that includes copious amounts of Vitamin E or aloe to help rehydrate and protect your skin.