One can hardly overlook the fact that it took a global pandemic to remind people of the importance of washing their hands properly and regularly. And yet, many of us still do it incorrectly! In reality, when we don’t take the time or choose the wrong products, we fail to get rid of all the germs and pave the way for dry, chapped, damaged skin. So, without further ado, let’s go over the basics of how to disinfect your hands and keep them moisturized for optimal health, hygiene, and safety.
Choose the Right Soap
Using a soap that’s of high quality, fragrance-free, and dermatologically tested is the simplest way to sanitize and disinfect your hands. You should avoid soap bars whenever possible, no matter how good they smell, as these generally have a higher pH that can easily dry the skin. Instead, pick a bottle of liquid or creamy soap that contains ingredients like glycerin and lanolin; these gentle agents will help your skin retain its natural moisture. Always make sure to read product labels carefully.
Opt for a Liquid Hand Sanitizer
Whenever you don’t have access to a sink, hand sanitizing liquid is always a safe option. It typically comes in compact bottles, feels fresh, dries fast, and can be carried in a pocket or purse. That said, it’s also sold en masse in all sorts of public venues, from hospitals to restaurants. The experts behind Totally Pure sanitizers point out that a hand sanitizer must contain at least 80% alcohol for it to be effective against bacteria, germs, and viruses, and conform to international standards. Some of them also contain ingredients to help prevent dryness, which is always great if you’re using these products often.
Now, when it comes to actual handwashing, one of the most critical aspects is the temperature of the water. Many people are under the impression that washing with hot water will somehow be more effective — grave misconception. Not only does hot water strip your hands of their natural oils meant to keep them waterproof, but it may also lead to redness and burns. Instead, simply use lukewarm water, not too hot, but not too cold, either.
Wash Your Hands for 20 Seconds
At the very least! You see, germs can be quite recalcitrant, which is why washing your hands for any less than that can be ineffective and leave your hands still riddled with microbes. Begin by wetting your hands with lukewarm water, pump a good amount of soap into your palm, and start lathering up. The proper handwashing technique involves rubbing your palms, the back of your hands, every finger, and in-between, without forgetting the wrists. To make sure that you don’t falter on that recommended duration, you may sing the “Happy birthday” song to yourself twice.
Before the final moisturizing step, it’s important that you dry your hands the right way. People will often be seen wiping aggressively; wiping your hands with cloth causes micro-abrasions that will damage your skin and expose it to dryness. Instead, blot, or pat dry, preferably using paper towels. Make sure your hands are dried well since germs tend to transfer easily on wet hands. Replace your hand towel every 3 days.
Choosing the Right Moisturizer
In case your skin is naturally prone to dryness, and the hydrating agents present in the soap or sanitizer aren’t enough, you must select a moisturizer that’s suited to your skin type. These products typically come as lotions, creams, or ointments that you can purchase at your local pharmacy, beauty shop, or online. Choose one with ingredients like shea butter, mineral oil, or hyaluronic acid for a mega hydration boost. Some quick research will point you towards dozens of reliable and tested options.
Using a moisturizer after washing helps restore the epidermis, fills in any cracks, increases hydration, and improves the skin’s appearance. To reap these benefits, however, it’s important to use the product well. You may want to avoid lotions as these have a much higher water content; favor creams or ointments instead. Simply follow the directions on the label, which will usually recommend using a small dollop and massage your hands together until full absorption. Voilà! Perfectly smooth and replenished skin.
As we’ve seen, proper hand disinfecting and moisturizing really isn’t rocket science. These are very simple acts that help us keep ourselves clean, safe, and disease-free. Ultimately, the key is to select a gentle and non-abrasive soap, wash for long enough and at the right temperature, and follow the right handwashing technique. Using sanitizing products is certainly a convenient option, but it doesn’t beat a good old water-and-soap scrub!