How does hand washing affect the skin?
We’ve all experienced that horrible burning sensation that accompanies over-exposure to warm, soapy water. If you’ve ever wondered why your hands transform into painful bundles that feel like overused pin cushions after hand washing your clothes, it’s because, as The Pai Life notes, “Repeated washing, particularly with liquid soaps, strips the hands of their natural oils leaving them dry and rough …” This may be why, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “soaps and detergents have been described as the most damaging of all substances routinely applied to skin …”
Unfortunately, once our hands are cracked and sore, it can be difficult to reverse the process, with the Pai Life noting that such dryness can mark “the start of a vicious cycle, as cracked skin can become infected and is far more likely to become further sensitised to chemical ingredients in hand washes and hand creams.” This is no surprise when we consider that the skin itself is reasonably easy to penetrate due to an outermost epidermal layer that is only 1/250th of an inch thick, and a dermis that is only 1/50th to 3/25ths of an inch thick (intergrativehealthcare).
In short, taking measures to protect your skin from over-exposure to water and detergents is particularly important, as it can help to prevent or lessen the impact of conditions such as:
- Sensitive skin
- Hand Eczema/Dermatitis (suffered by ~10% of the US population, according to the National Eczema Association)
- Psoriasis (suffered by about 7.5 million Americans, according to the AAD)
Other factors to consider when exposing ourselves to water and detergents include:
- Certain types of jewellery
- Styled or manicured nails
What you can do:
To keep your skin as safe as possible during exposure to water and detergents:
- Use a gentle, pH-balanced skin cleanser and carefully check all ingredients to ensure you’re not sensitive to any of them.
- Regularly apply moisturiser to help your skin retain moisture, and consider using a hand cream every day to further protect the skin.
- Be sure to wear gloves in cold, dry weather to keep the elements from stripping down your skin, and consider using rubber gloves when hand washing clothes or dishes.
- Avoid washing in hot water, as this can strip the skin of its natural oils.
- Consider removing rings prior to hand washing, as irritants can easily get trapped beneath them.
- Blot, rather than scrub, your hands dry.
- Avoid washing dishes or clothes by hand altogether, especially if suffering from chronic conditions such as eczema. If washing by hand cannot be avoided, you may like to opt for a long-handled scrubber that keeps your hands from coming into contact with water, as recommended by the National Eczema Association.
- Consider using the Allurette gentle washer.
These tips can help everyone combat basic skin deterioration, and are particularly important for those with sensitive skin or those who, like health care professionals, are exposed to frequent hand washing.
Nevertheless, with about 10% of the US population suffering from hand eczema, it’s clear that, for many, chores involving hand washing are more than just boring tasks that too often become the victims of procrastination. This is part of the reason why we have developed the Allurette gentle washer.
Simply place any items that require a gentle wash, from lingerie to active wear, into the Allurette washer, fill with water to the marking levels provided on the bag’s exterior, add your preferred detergent, roll and clip, release excess air via the handy twist valve, and then rub the clothes gently against the internal washboard from the outside of the bag, keeping your hands dry and separate from soap and detergent. In only 3 minutes, you can achieve a machine quality wash with the gentleness of a hand wash, all without coming into contact with damaging water and chemicals.
So the next time you need to submerge your hands in warm water and detergent, remember these tips and do your best to implement the small steps that will go a long way to preserving and nourishing your skin!