If you have sensitive or eczema-prone skin, constantly washing your hands can easily irritate your skin's sensitive barrier. Never before has washing our hands and face been so vitally important. However, for those living with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema - or even just very sensitive skin - the constant cleansing can cause irritation and flare-ups.
It's all about your skin's barrier
The skin acts as a barrier between the outside environment and the underlying soft tissue. Its role is to prevent moisture from escaping while preventing irritants from getting in. Excessive cleansing and exfoliating can rid the skin of its natural oils and can cause an overly dry, inflamed and sensitive skin.
Bring back the balance
You can look out for cleansers specially formulated for sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for those that contain soothing, hydrating ingredients, like glycerin, ceramides, vitamin E and panthenol. Also, if you’re in the middle of a flare-up, now is not the time to use exfoliants. Only once your skin has recovered can you gradually introduce them back into your routine.
Pat your hands dry – don’t rub
After washing your hands, pat it dry with a disposable paper towel or tissue rather than rubbing it with a towel, etc. Rubbing can be traumatic to the skin, especially if it is tender and inflamed to begin with.
After cleansing, it’s important that you restore your skin’s moisture levels, but you have to be careful about what you use. Hydrating, soothing ingredients are great, but if they’re mixed with potentially harsh ingredients like high strength retinol or alpha hydroxy acids, they might re-ignite a flare-up. Pay attention to what’s on your moisturisers ingredients list. Ideally, you want to ensure your products are free of potential irritants like sulphates, parabens and synthetic fragrances.
Following these guidelines will allow you to lessen the impact of regular hand washing on your delicate skin barrier. If your skin condition is very serious and you find that these measures are not effective enough, it is recommended that you get in touch with your treating dermatologist to seek expert advice.