Hand Hygiene: How to Take Better Care of Your Skin & Hands in Healthcare

If you work in healthcare, you may find yourself washing your hands 20, 30, 50 times a day. Without proper care, your hands become dry and cracked, showing every fine line and wrinkle.

While this might not matter to your patients or lab subjects when you have your gloves on, it can be painful for you on a daily basis.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do better care for your skin and hands both on and off the job.

Wash Your Hands in Warm Water

Washing your hands in warm instead of hot water is better for your skin. While it was once believed that hot water was more detrimental to germs and bacteria, a Rutgers University study recently revealed that it actually makes no measurable difference for cleanliness.

It may not matter to germs what temperature water you use, but it does matter to your hands. Your skin is very sensitive to heat, and hot water causes damage to the keratin cells on the outer layer of your epidermis.

Washing your hands once or twice in very hot water might not make a difference, but professionals who wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day will notice that hot water is more painful.

Have Lotion On-Hand

You have access to soap, sanitizer, and gloves at every crucial point throughout your facility, but do you have access to lotion and moisturizer as well?

Instead of carrying your own lotion around all day long, add it to the essential products beside every sink! Hand sanitizer is often mounted on walls at the entrance to every room, why not add a lotion dispenser to create easy access and minimal contamination?

Avoid dry, painful hands when you apply lotion when appropriate after every time you wash your hands.

If you work outside of a facility as an EMT, keep lotion in your vehicle with all your other important tools. It will come in handy when your hands need a little extra help.

Moisturizing Gloves

There are times when putting lotion on right after washing isn’t possible. You may have to throw on a pair of latex gloves (which is really difficult with moisturizer on your skin).

Instead of resorting to doing nothing, arm your facility with gloves that have built-in moisturizing technology. Fight against dry skin to improve the comfort and performance of your staff with soothing gloves that evenly distributes an odorless inner coating on your hands.

Wear Gloves in Cold Weather

In addition to actions that you take right after washing your hands, you can improve your daily activities to minimize the chances of dry skin.

When the weather gets cold, don’t leave your house without gloves on! Winter weather skin care is different from summer care, as you need to lock in moisture more effectively.

The skin on your hands especially is thinner and more susceptible to drying out. You have fewer oil glands here and it’s harder to keep your hands moist during a cold, dry winter.

Avoid Alcohol-Based Soaps

Even though modern alcohol-based hand rubs and soaps often contain protective additives like emollients, glycerol, skin conditioning agents, and humectants, it’s not the industry standard.

If you’re in charge of stocking up on soaps and sanitizer, look for those with conditioning agents or opt for something else entirely with ethanol-based sanitizer.

Ethanol is much less irritating for skin than propan-1-ol or propan-2-ol and can benefit anyone who washes their hands frequently during the day.

Enhancing Team Performance

Dry, itchy, and cracked hands can be incredibly distracting for healthcare workers, doctors, and laboratory employees.

Don’t suffer the discomfort of dry, chapped hands unnecessarily. Protect yourself and your employees by providing them better hand and skincare with some of these solutions!

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