Aging & Health: Take Charge

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May 5, 2020

Skin disease and hand washing: soothing a flare up

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor



Hand washing with soap and warm water is one of the best defenses against spreading the COVID-19 virus, and it’s common and even expected that the skin will become dry or irritated from appropriately increased frequency of hand washing.

Appropriate hand washing can be an especially problematic if you have a skin condition that is flaring up — such as dermatitis or eczema. When applying hand lotion after washing isn't enough to keep your skin condition under control, — you can add these additional steps:

  • After washing, thoroughly rinsing and patting dry, apply and rub in a layer of hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion or cream.
  • For extra moisturization, wait a minute or so after the first application, then apply again.
  • Apply an ointment on top. Ointment doesn’t absorb into skin, but it slows the natural evaporation of moisture from the skin.
  • After, wear a pair of socks or gloves during down time — such as when sleeping or watching a movie — to additionally trap moisture into your skin.

If that's still not enough, try applying your own wet dressing with these steps:

  • After washing, thoroughly rinsing and patting dry, apply two thick layers of moisturizing lotion or cream. It should be thick enough to see residue on your hands.
  • Do not apply ointment.
  • Mix a teaspoon of white vinegar into an 8 oz glass of warm water and stir.  Take two clean washcloths and soak them in the vinegar water. Wring them out.
  • Wrap the washcloths around your hands and cover with a sock.
  • Wear this wet dressing overnight if sleeping, or for an hour at a time during the day. You can do this two to three times a day until your skin condition is under control.

Tell your own story of how you are coping with pandemic issues at the COVID-19 support group.


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