COVID-19 is sweeping the planet, and we must do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society from getting it.
While the recommendation is to wash hands frequently, this is causing severe, eczema-like dry skin on the hands of many people.
Not only is this uncomfortable, but It's even causing fissures for some people.
Prevent dry skin from handwashing during the coronavirus outbreak
It's recommended to wash hands with soapy water for at least 30 seconds, including underneath the fingernails and in between fingers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This should be done anytime you come into contact with people or objects in public places.
Should you wash your hands with antibacterial soap?
Regular soap is effective at killing coronavirus, but antibacterial soap isn’t necessary.
Antibacterial soap also increases the prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacteria (aka. superbugs), rendering even the most potent antibiotics useless.
It also has a negative effect on our skin microbiome, a colony of trillions of microorganisms. Altering our natural skin microbiota can in turn, worsen dry skin and cause irritation.
How to protect and nourish skin after handwashing
Have you come to realize that your hand cream just isn't cutting it?
There's a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the topic of moisturizing. I know, this should be incredibly straightforward — but alas, leave it to humans to overcomplicate things.
Since handwashing with soap strips our skin of its natural oils – our skin will quickly convert to the Sahara desert if these important nutrients aren't replenished back into our hands.
While some lotions and creams can contain some pretty awesome ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid, they're unlikely to provide the moisturization our skin needs while excessively washing our hands.
Lotions are typically made up of about 70-80% water, and only around 1-10% oil.
The issue is that oil is the main moisturizing part of most water-based formulas, as the epidermis (outer layer of skin) requires specific essential fatty acids in order to function properly.
To top it off, the minuscule amount of oils used in lotions are often inflammatory to our skin and proven to worsen dryness. These include ingredients like olive oil, avocado oil, and marula oil.
The answer to treating dry skin from coronavirus handwashing is by using topical oils, and I'll explain more about fatty acids below.
Oleic acid vs. linoleic acid for skin
Oils usually contain two fatty acids known as oleic acid and linoleic acid.
It's important to know the difference between the two in order to properly treat dry skin during the coronavirus outbreak.
Why oleic acid is damaging to our skin
Remember the crappy oils I mentioned (for skin use specifically)? These are bad for skin because they're extremely high in oleic acid, also known as omega-9 fatty acid.
It's a non-essential fatty acid, meaning the body produces it naturally, unlike omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids which are required through diet.
It's a known scientific fact that when used topically, oleic acid damages our skin's moisture barrier. Essentially, this means it makes our skin dry and keeps it from properly hydrating itself.
In fact, oleic acid is so annoying that it inserts itself (quite literally) into linoleic acid's role in the skin when It's lacking, leading to the disruption of our precious moisture barrier.
Over time, this will even worsen eczema and psoriasis.
So basically when you use hand creams, lotions, and even oil-based products, you could very well be worsening your already dry, overwashed hands.
Linoleic acid is critical for skin health
Our skin needs a fatty acid known as linoleic acid, which is critical for treating and preventing dry skin.
It works by reducing TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) and increasing skin moisture.
Linoleic acid has been shown to be more effective than urea for treating eczema, a common treatment option.
Linoleic acid, along with alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), are the only fatty acids our bodies can't produce naturally.
The best way to treat dry skin is by using essential fatty acids topically in the form of oils.
I'm going to provide you the best solutions to your dry skin woes so you can ditch your anti-moisturizing products.
Natural oil moisturizer recommendations
The best fatty-acid rich oils include:
- Evening primrose oil
- Hemp seed oil (contains omega-3 and 6)
- Grapeseed oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Chia oil (high in omega-3)
We also offer our Botanical Recovery Serum which is high in linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, and infused with soothing herbs.
For a full list of oils high in linoleic acid, go here. See our list of inflammatory oils to avoid here.
I recommend applying oil to your hands after every time you wash them.
Natural soap recommendations
Since handwashing is necessary right now to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are great natural (and palm oil-free) soap options that exist.
Here are some good choices: