Skin care during Covid-19

Ahh… It feels SO GOOD to take off my mask. With COVID, I wear mine at least 8 hours every day. Putting it on as I cross the parking lot to the clinic to start work, I only take it off for lunch or short breaks. To protect my family, patients, and co-workers, I always wear a mask whenever I step out of my car until I arrive home again.
I tend to have dry hands since I wash them frequently and thoroughly at work. Since wearing a mask during this COVID pandemic, my hands started feeling more sensitive and dry. When I asked my nursing co-workers if they had noticed anything different about their hands, most of them nodded their heads. They agreed that their hands had seemed drier and more irritated recently.
Our hands started getting drier because we were sanitizing our hands more often.
In addition to washing our hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based gels at work, we sanitized our hands OUTSIDE of work and errands at the grocery store and other public places.
Sanitizing your hands can dry out your skin, whether by washing with soap and water, using hand sanitizer gels, or disinfecting hand wipes. Washing your hands causes more skin dryness than using hand sanitizers because soap and water strip away the natural oils on the surface of your skin. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel or wipes will also dry out your skin due to the contact with alcohol, which is drying.
How can we combat dry skin?
We can ease our dry skin by adding moisture to it, both inside and outside.
Drinking more water helps ease dry skin. Since I began wearing a mask all day at work, I had stopped drinking water during the day because I couldn’t do it without first taking off my mask.
The first thing I needed to do is to start drinking water again. Now I make it a habit to have less coffee and more plain water. I sip water on my way to and from work and drink on every break. As long as I drink most of my water by 5 pm, I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night. 
I have always used hand lotion frequently, but my dry hands needed MORE. 
Moisturizers can help relieve dry skin from the outside. Lotions, creams, and ointments work by softening your skin cells and by trapping moisture in the top layer of your skin.
Your body loses water all day long through sweat and evaporation. Your body continuously gives off water vapor through your skin's pores, not just when you sweat. The thicker and “greasier” your moisturizer, the better it blocks this ongoing evaporation of water from your skin and traps water in your skin, moisturizing it.
Moisturizers are available as lotions, creams, ointments, or "body butter". Lotions are more liquid and less moisturizing than creams. The thicker and more "greasy" the moisturizer, the more it traps moisture. Ointments or body butters relieve dry skin the best.
Moisturizers often contain compounds that encourage water to stay on your skin like lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycerin, urea, and ammonium lactate.
Moisturizers containing ceramides can be especially helpful. Ceramides are found in high concentrations in healthy skin and lower concentrations in inflamed or dry skin. One moisturizer featuring these ceramides is CeraVe®.
One Important Tip: When applying a moisturizer after sanitizing with an alcohol-based gel or wipe, let your skin dry completely first. Otherwise, instead of trapping water next to your skin, you’ll trap alcohol, creating skin irritation and dryness instead!
For me, drinking more water and changing from lotion to CeraVe® cream soothed my dry hands. What about you?
Here are 4 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin:
1.          Keep your body well hydrated.
If you drink most of your fluids in the early part of the day, you’ll be less likely to get up at night.
2.          Shower and bathe with warm, not hot water.
Using hot water encourages water loss from the skin. Bathing or showering with lukewarm water is better to avoid drying out your skin.
3.          Pat skin almost dry before applying moisturizer. 
Apply moisturizer to damp skin within 10 minutes of your bath or shower or immediately after washing your hands.
4.          When sanitizing with alcohol gel, let hands dry FIRST before applying moisturizer.
After using alcohol-based sanitizing gels, let your hands dry completely before applying any moisturizer to avoid trapping alcohol against your skin.
 
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 40-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Check out her NEW website TheMedicationInsider.com for daily tips on how to take your medicine safely. ® 2020 Louise Achey

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