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Caring for your skin during the Covid-19 pandemic

Hand care

Caring for your skin during the Covid-19 pandemic

2020 has been a year of confusion, fear, worry and anxiety for so many of us. The global pandemic will go down in history as causing significant changes to the way we live, work, socialise and travel and all forecasts suggest that we’ll be living with these changes for a while to come.

Whilst we all adjust to the new regulations and way of doing things, we’ll probably notice gradual changes to a range of aspects in our lives. One of which might be our skin. Here’s a look at three different ways that your skin might be changing, and how you can help combat them…

Allergic reactions

The ‘Hands, Face, Space’ advice is designed to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus (and other viruses such as the flu) and involves washing or sanitising our hands, wearing a face covering and maintaining a 2m distance from those not in our households or support bubbles.

If we’re out and about, washing our hands is less easy, so the advice is to use hand sanitiser. However, hand sanitisers are made using alcohol and other ingredients such as perfumes and dyes that can be harsh and cause allergic reactions.

Irritant contact dermatitis is characterised by dry skin, cracking and bleeding and can be caused by a sensitivity to hand sanitisers. Allergic contact dermatitis causes similar symptoms and can be caused by an allergy to ingredients in hand sanitiser. Having an allergy to hand sanitiser can cause more severe symptoms than a sensitivity, and symptoms can spread to other areas of skin.

Hand sanitisers need to be effective, so they need to contain at least 60% alcohol in order to work. But they can break down the natural lipid barriers in the skin and cause irritations and allergies. ‘Natural’ hand sanitisers contain fewer dyes and perfumes than standard ones, making them less likely to cause problems. It might mean shopping around to find the one that suits your skin, but make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you wear disposable gloves, making sure your hands are dry after using hand sanitiser before applying gloves will help you manage allergic reactions. Also, using nourishing hand creams, particularly those that contain plant-based oils, when you can, such as when at home and before bed can also help.

Slower than usual wound healing

We get the majority of vitamin D from sunlight hitting the skin. During the autumn and winter months, when our skin is less exposed, we can become deficient, especially at the moment with Covid-19 restrictions meaning that we’re inside more than often.

A vitamin D deficiency can cause weak teeth and bones and can affect our mental health by causing a low mood. But it can also have an impact on the skin – specifically would healing. So if you’ve noticed that any cuts, scratches or bruises are taking longer to heal, you may benefit from taking a daily 10mcg supplement of vitamin D, as recommended by the NHS.

Dehydrated skin

Working inside in centrally heated homes and office buildings with hot, dry, low humidity air can dehydrate the skin by sucking moisture from it. This can make the skin appear dry, sallow and lacklustre and even cause redness and irritation, especially so on the face.

Using a heavier moisturiser than usual on the face and the body during these colder months can significantly help. Look for moisturisers that contain ‘humectants’. Humectants are moisturising ingredients that attract water molecules and draw moisture from the air into the upper layers of the skin where it’s needed. Examples include hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, glycerine and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs).

Follow these steps to look after any skin problems you may be having, and always follow the advice to stay safe!

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