Health officials around the world have emphasised that washing our hands regularly and thoroughly is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of coronavirus infection.

However as we are adapting to life in the new normal, frequent handwashing can cause skin to flake, itch, crack and even bleed without proper measure taken in advance to prevent it. It’s also easy for existing skin condition to flare up. ‘This can cause open wounds in your skin that can allow in bacteria and other germs, and increase your risk for infection (AAD, 2021). Some dermatologists are even reporting an increase in patients presenting with eczema.


What’s happening to our skin?

The top layer of our skin is the skin’s key protective layer. Frequent hand washing with repetitive exposure to water, soap and skin cleansers will disrupt the outer layer of the skin, allowing the soap to penetrate deeper into the skin, thus causing more skin irritation, inflammation and itching.

Dry skin often means that the nails are also dry. When the skin surrounding the nail bed or nail matrix is dry, it could damage the nails as they grow. Frequent handwashing also does a number on your nails because they lose water faster than the skin does. The constant washing and sanitizing can cause nails to dry out and become brittle.

Because prevention is the best medicine, we’ve rounded up our top tips on how you can now heal dry skin and brittle nails while you continue to wash and sanitise your hands as needed;

✔️Use moisturising hand cleanser and hand sanitiser.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends the use of hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% of alcohol. Due to its high alcohol content, hand sanitiser can be particularly dry for the skin and nails. When applying hand sanitizer, try not to get it on your nails. I always prefer the gel type hand sanitiser as there not as drying.

On the other hand, when you shop for a hand cleanser, it’s best to go for the ones with pH balanced because they are with low-irritant formula, free from colour, fragrance and other common irritants – it won’t wash and strip away the skin’s natural oil layer and it’s naturally gentler on the nails.

✔️Wash with cool or room temperature water. Hot water washes away healthy oils.

It’s a good thing we generally have room temperature water runs out from the tap. Worth to take note that ‘washing hands repeatedly in water that’s too hot could lead to irritation and damaged skin’ (Times, 2017). So, wash your hands with hot water only when you need to.

In the case for people who perform “wet work” such as health-care workers, hairdressers, food handlers and cleaners, where they are exposed to water or hot water many more times a day, wearing a protective glove can help to prevent the skin from drying out too much.

✔️Moisturise hands and nails after washing or sanitising.

You can skip the fancy lotions and use oil to moisturize your hands. It is my current go-to hand-care routine. I believe in the most basic component of all lotions, the oil is the one that actually provides the moisturising action that your skin needs. Plus with a hand oil, you can nourish the nails and cuticles too. Save the time on application and spend less for getting two jobs done!

But of course if you’re going for the conventional moisturiser, always go for cream based. They are with a higher oil concentration (a 50-50 ration of water and oil) and thicker in consistency in that it provides a barrier that keeps skin ultra-hydrated.

Apply hand oil or hand cream immediately after drying your hand from washing or after hand sanitiser dries.

✔️Wear gloves when doing the dishes or cleaning.

Most of the time, nails get damaged due to our daily household chores especially while cooking and washing the dishes. Whether you cook and hand-wash your dishes or not, you should own a pair of dish gloves. These durable, waterproof wonders are your first line of defense against dry, cracked skin. The gloves will keep your manicure from getting destroyed too.

Applying hand cream or hand oil consistently after every hand washing and sanitising can help prevent your skin from getting too dry, flaky and itching.


If you still have dry skin after following these tips, you may need to consult with a dermatologist. To heal dry skin, some people need a prescription cream. A dermatologist can diagnose and provide the treatment you need.

Yours truly, Iva❤️

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