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If 2020 is a year in which new habits and ways of being were adopted across the world, then the excessive use of hand sanitizers would rank above the top three. With the global pandemic showing no signs of receding into the background, citizens across the world are relying on high alcohol (70% or higher) content hand sanitizers to safeguard their health.

While sanitizers may kill the germs that cause a host of diseases including Covid-19, the side effects of repeatedly using hand sanitizers can be equally damaging to one’s well-being. The impact on our hands and skin cannot be argued as we have all felt that familiar sting when a spurt of sanitizer hits the surface of our hands. In addition to causing extreme dryness, hand sanitizers can also cause irritation and flaky skin as it is, in its most basic form, an antiseptic.  As a disinfectant, sanitizers use isopropyl alcohol to cleanse and destroy disease-causing germs along with our skin’s natural moisture. Those with sensitive skin can experience adverse side effects including allergic reactions and itchiness. Some may even experience blisters and cracks according to dermatologists who have seen the after-effects of excessive sanitizer use can cause.

The natural oils present in our skin not only serve as a barrier to many skin diseases but also maintain the smooth texture of the skin cells. These cells are heavily dehydrated when we rub on hand sanitizers multiple times a day and can not only damage the skin but also lead the way to contact dermatitis. The only solution to combating this issue is to use a hand cream or moisturizing agent that can replenish the skin.  A practised moisturizing regiment can prevent any irritation the sanitizer might cause and also serve to keep the hands supple and soft throughout the day. It is important to reapply the hand cream every time one uses hand sanitizers as the alcoholic properties burn through the layer of protection the lotion provided in previous applications. Selecting a hand cream that not only hydrates the skin but also heals the skin cells is crucial. The ingredients of the hand cream one uses make a big difference when it comes to how effective it can be. Silver infused formulas, aloe vera and non-citrusy components can go a long way to moisturize the skin but also heal any imperfections.  As we don’t see the practice of using hand sanitizers decreasing in the months to come, it is necessary to adopt this 2 step process of sanitizing and moisturizing if we are to stop our hands from ageing prematurely.

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