Good handwashing and care practices

Here are some handwashing and hand care tips to protect against coronavirus infection and keep your skin healthy:

  1. Prevent infection with frequent handwashing. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash the palm and back of each hand, between your fingers and under your nails, and then rinse well. Dry your hands with a paper towel and turn off the tap using the paper towel,* advises the Public Health Agency of Canada. Good handwashing practices also help prevent colds, the flu, and foodborne illness,” says HealthLink BC.
  2. Use sanitizers when there’s no sink in sight. When soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as long as your hands aren’t visibly soiled.* If they are soiled, use a wipe and then sanitizer to effectively clean and disinfect your hands,* says the BC Center for Disease Control.
  3. Be gentle on your hands. Use lukewarm water with soap to wash your hands since hot water can increase skin damage and isn’t any more helpful against germs,* advises Mayo Clinic.
  4. Apply moisturizer to keep skin hydrated. Applying moisturizer to your hands after handwashing helps to keep your skin hydrated and prevent or heal dry, chapped skin.* Pat your hands rather than rubbing them and then apply moisturizer while your hands are slightly damp.* When using hand sanitizer, apply moisturizer immediately after the sanitizer dries.*
  5. Choose fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizers. Use moisturizers that are emollient (thicker), fragrance-free, dye-free, and don’t contain common allergens to avoid irritating your skin,* recommends the Canadian Dermatology Association. Dermatologists recommend a moisturizing hand cream or ointment that contains mineral oil or petroleum jelly.* Also look for ointments and creams that you squeeze out of a tube, which are more effective than products you pump out of a bottle.*
  6. Wear gloves for other wet work. Use gloves for washing dishes or when cleaning surfaces to protect dry hands.* Running a humidifier in the bedroom at night can also help moisten the air and your skin while you sleep,* suggests Cleveland Clinic.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance: 

1. Government of Canada. “How hand washing can reduce the spread of COVID-19.” (2020), online: 

2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Coronavirus: Is handwashing drying your skin?” (2020), online: 

3. Public Health Agency of Canada. “Reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands.” (2020), online: 

4. HealthLink BC. “Handwashing.” (2020), online: 

5. BC Centre for Disease Control. “Hand washing.” (2020), online: 

6. Mayo Clinic. “Skin care tips during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. (2020), online: 

7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Dry skin relief from COVID-19 handwashing.” (2020), online: 

8. Canadian Dermatology Association. “Skincare.” (2020), online: 

9. Canadian Dermatology Association. “Hand care recommendations.” (2020), online: 

10. Cleveland Clinic. “What can I do about dry hands from overwashing?” (2020), online: PreventionSenior HealthSenior Safety TipsSkin Care Tips