Incorrect hand hygiene: How to protect your skin
Incorrect hand hygiene can often lead to skin problems. Wounded, sore or cracked hands are not only uncomfortable, they also pose health risks. They make it easy for pathogens to enter the body – a small micro crack on the skin is all it takes. One cause for skin irritation is excessive hand washing.
Frequent hand washing can cause hand eczema
There’s no doubt about it, hand washing with soap reliably removes harmful germs. However, some soaps also dissolve lipids (oils) from the skin. With every wash a little of these lipids is rinsed away. But they are important, because they protect our hands from drying out.
“We need these lipids in the skin as an epidermal barrier and for keeping the skin healthy. This means thatfrequent hand washing can cause hand eczema”, confirms Professor Peter Elsner, Director of the Clinic for Skin Diseases at the University Hospital Jena in an interview with the Broadcasting Network ntv. “In fact, since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the percentage of people who have to see a dermatologist with such eczema on their hands has been increasing.”
But we have good news: There is a way to wash hands less often and still keep them hygienically clean. Scandinavian scientists were able to show that an optimal hand hygiene consists of a combination of hand washing and hand disinfection.
Even the Medical Tribune says:
“As long as dirt (on the hands) is limited, alcohol kills germs as well as soap and water. However, many people argue that that alcoholic hand sanitisers burn. In fact, the burning sensation only indicates that the skin barrier is already damaged. For such cases in particular, cleaning the hands (with soap) should be avoided.”
Hand sanitiser myths: they dry out hands
Jim Arbogast, Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements Vice President at GOJO Industries, confirms: “It is a common myth that the frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitisersdries out the skin of the hands. PURELL® hand sanitisers include skin conditioners that absorb into the skin in a helpful way. They have been developed to be used repeatedly without damage to the skin. Studies show that use of PURELL Advanced Hygienic Hand Rub does not dry out skin, even in high-frequency settings like healthcare.”
When choosing the hygiene products, you should bear in mind that not every hand sanitising product that is currently on the market has been tested to meet the necessary quality standards. In some cases, the products are ineffective or even harmful. They can cause pain or discomfort with repeated use. Formulation matters!
PURELL: Highest Standards for Purest Ingredients
“The FDA has issued warnings, alerts, and bans on more than 100 hand sanitisers for being unsafe or ineffective, including products contaminated with methanol and 1-propanol, both toxic ingredients”, states Carey Jaros, President and CEO at GOJO. In contrast, PURELL® hand sanitisers are not formulated with 1-propanol or methanol; the active incredient in PURELL Advanced Hygienic Hand Rub is ethyl alcohol.
“For us at GOJO, nothing is as important as making sure that everywhere from classrooms and restaurants, to hospitals and homes have access to the highest quality formulations of hand sanitiser. In line with our GOJO Purpose of Saving Lives and Making Life Better, never have we felt more responsibility to deliver on this promise”, Jaros says.
Boyce JM, Kellher, S., Vallande N. Skin irritation and dryness associated with two hand hygiene regimens: soap and water handwashing versus hand antisepsis with an alcoholic hand gel. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 21:442-448,2000