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Hand washing, face masks, and disinfectants: how to remedy COVID-related skin issues

June 12, 2020

Hand washing, face masks, and disinfectants: how to remedy COVID-related skin issues

We have learned how to protect our skin from sun, wind, stress, and other factors, but COVID-19 has brought on new skincare challenges. Some common issue are breakouts around the face mask area, dry, cracked hands, redness and rashes from gloves and disinfectants, acceleration of aging from stress and chemical exposure, clogged pores, brittle hair and nails, and cracked lips.

While sun, wind, and other outside elements present issues for skin, spending more time indoors furnishes an entirely different host of skin issues. Inside air tends to be less humid, due to air conditioning and heat. The lack of humidity can cause excessive dryness for hair, nails, cuticles, lips, and skin, from head to toe. It also contributes to congested and clogged pores.  

Wearing face masks have been proven to be effective in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, but can be irritating to skin. Moisture can build up underneath them, causing everything from breakouts to rashes.

Wash your mask. Depending on how often you wear your mask, it needs to be washed. Hand wash your mask with a fragrance-free detergent. Soap you mask in warm water for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Let air dry overnight.

Disinfecting wipes are flying off store shelves faster than toilet paper. Sanitizing high-touch areas has also shown to help prevent the spread of germs. This may be good for killing the virus, but the fumes are detrimental to your skin, especially you’re not wearing gloves. Direct skin contact with these chemicals can lead to dryness and rashes. Hands are also getting battered from increased washing and need much more care.

These lifestyle changes are not going away anytime soon, but your skin doesn’t need to suffer. Here are some simple solutions for these related skin issues:

Dry hands

Soap
Using a super-fatted, old-fashioned kettle-method-made soap will help prevent dryness. Ditch the harsh detergents and antibacterial soap. With our newfound hand washing habits, soap matters more than ever!

Scrub

Three times a week, follow your hand washing with a salt scrub that includes other nourishing ingredients, such as shea butter and avocado oil. This will remove the dead skin cells to help moisturizers penetrate deeper.

Lotion
Use lotions that are chemical-free to help prevent dehydration. Alcohol and other chemicals found in many moisturizers are counterproductive. Look for a lotion that contains both oils (fats) and fluid (water). If the ingredient list is too long and there’s too much in it, skip it. You should be able to recognize all the ingredients, such as butters, oils, aloe vera juice, coconut water, plant hydrosols, and distilled water.

Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers can be brutal. In order to be effective in killing viruses, ethanol based hand sanitizers need to contain 80% ethanol to be effective, which is extremely drying. When choosing hand sanitizer, look for other ingredients, such as aloe vera gel or glycerin, that can help hydrate parched hands. The other options are chemical based hand sanitizers which are extremely drying.

 

Dry hair
If you like to DIY, this is the perfect time. Hair masks are simple and effective. Some of my favorite hair mask ingredients are olive oil, mayonnaise, yogurt, banana, coconut oil, honey, avocado, and avocado oil. It’s virtually impossible to make a mistake. Simply blend the ingredients and comb through your hair. Leave on for a few hours and then wash out in the shower.

Dry lips
If you’re looking for simplicity, pure shea butter is fantastic for lips. It’s one ingredient that works well on its own. Lip balms are wonderful, but can be trickier. For example, while cocoa butter is a fantastic ingredient, it’s actually not beneficial for lips. So avoid lip balms with cocoa butter, petroleum-based products, and others synthetic chemicals. A combination of beeswax, oils, and shea butter is best.

Dry nails/cuticles
You can also use lip balm on your nail beds and cuticles. Or simply massage with olive or avocado oil.

 

Face mask breakouts
Resist the urge to exfoliate as it can exacerbate breakouts. Use products like Sumbody’s Rebel Serum that will combat acne caused by yeast and bacteria that thrive in humid environments.

Face mask irritation
Putting a barrier on can help soothe areas of irritation. Using a product, such as Sumbody’s Eye’m In Love, will add a gentle, protective layer to reduce rubbing and irritation. Although this is an eye product, it has the perfect viscosity to create a protective barrier without clogging pores.

Face mask rash
If the rash is from chafing, see the irritation fix. If it’s from excessive moisture, see the breakout prevention.

Be mindful of how you’re treating your skin. Using chemical-free products will reduce overall irritation. Make sure you’re washing with warm and not hot water. Avoid aggressive manual exfoliation. Use a shower mask that has ingredients to gently digest and dissolve dead skin cells, like Sumbody’s Save Me Honey Shower Mask.

Overall dry skin
A favorite dry-skin fix of mine is I call “seal the deal.” While you’ll use different products for your face and body, the same technique applies. Always moisturize freshly washed skin. First apply an oil, such as olive or avocado, from the neck down. Follow with a body lotion or cream. From the neck-up, apply a face oil and then a face cream over it.

Massive moisture loss occurs after stepping out of the bath or shower. One trick to avoid this is to apply your body oil in the shower or use a bath oil, a Fizzer with cocoa butter, or a Bath Melt.

Disinfectant use
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) not only impact indoor air quality, they can also affect our health in different ways. Beyond redness and irritation, they can cause dryness and premature aging. Make sure there’s proper ventilation when using, and, if possible, a HEPA air filter running. This will help reduce the negative effects. Cleanse skin and apply a moisturizer to provide a protective barrier for your skin. While it won’t completely block the transdermal penetration, it’ll help reduce transmission, much like wearing a face mask during a pandemic.