Why Excessive Hand Washing Can Be Harmful

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Why Excessive Hand Washing Can Be Harmful

During the pandemic, we have learned to prioritise hygiene, with regular hand washing being a key practice. However, over washing your hands can actually result in damage to your skin. Here’s why it is important to let your hands be, and how to maintain healthy skin while still staying clean.

Why Excessive Hand Washing Can Be Harmful

Image Source: Dinodia

The pandemic was a strict teacher, and one of the most valuable lessons it taught us was the importance of clean hands. We washed our hands regularly, almost obsessively, out of fear for our health and safety. However, even though the pandemic is over, our hand washing habits persist. Doctors are now warning us of the potential harm that can come from over washing, and it's important to take note. Let's take a closer look at the effects that excessive hand washing can have on our skin.

  • Skin irritation: With every hand wash, we open up the skin barrier, which leads to skin irritation that then results in our skin being prone to infection. Excessive hand washing can therefore trigger rashes and as the skin barrier is compromised, our hands can become a breeding ground for different infections. 
  • Drying of skin: It is understood that washing our hands repeatedly will result in our skin drying up. This happens because our hands get deprived of all its natural lipids (oils) leaving our skin dry, almost brittle. This brittle skin then leads to cracks which become an easy entry point for bacteria to enter our body.
  • Increased Level of pH: Potential Hydrogen or pH of our skin is generally below 5. This level is ideal for the skin to function normally. If the pH of the skin is 7, it is said to be neutral. If below 7, our skin is considered acidic while anything above it is considered alkaline. Some soaps and handwashes have high pH, which disrupts our skin barrier. This causes a dehydrative effect on the skin that leads to irritability and an alteration in bacterial flora. Therefore, our skin gets drier as the pH level of the soap increases. And like we know, the drier the skin, the easier it is for infections to enter. 
  • Soap doesn't fully leave: We often wear accessories like rings. Every time we wash our hands, it is not possible to remove the rings and place them on the side. Sometimes, the soaps we use get stuck under our rings. This then leads to the retention of wetness and causes skin irritation. At its extreme, this could also lead to fungal infection on our fingers. 
  • Parched skin: If you have grown used to the habit of sanitizers to wash your hands, then let us inform you, that is not a great habit either. Just like soaps, washing hands with sanitizer is equally harmful for our skin. Our skin is made up of lipids, oils, and ceramides. Constant usage of soaps or sanitizers rips off the protective oil from the skin’s barrier. Our skin then is unable to revive its moisture and becomes parched.

The right guide

If you are experiencing dry or parched skin on your hands, it is important to seek help from a dermatologist. They can guide you on the pH levels of your skin and recommend a soap that is suitable for your skin type. During your visit, you can also learn about the right way to wash your hands and how to retain moisture after washing. Additionally, your dermatologist can prescribe the right moisturizer or barrier repair cream to help your hands heal as part of a skin recovery treatment plan.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.