Excessive handwashing: 5 side effects it can leave on your skin

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If there’s one thing Covid-19 has taught us, it’s the importance of good hygiene around us. The result? We all went overboard when it came to washing our hands regularly for the sake of our lives. Now, even though the pandemic seems to have subsided, the habit of handwashing has still not reduced. But did you know the repercussions of excessive handwashing? This habit can make our hands dry and can lead to other skin concerns.

Health Shots reached out to skin and wellness specialist Dr Kiran Sethi to understand the side effects of too much handwashing.

5 side effects of excessive handwashing

1. Excessive dryness

This goes without saying that if we get into the habit of washing our hands now and then, there may be a high chance of our hands running dry. Dr Sethi adds, “This dryness makes the skin barrier weaker, which can increase the risk of infection.” Excessively dry skin can crack, making room for bacteria to enter. Dry hands are always more susceptible to catching an infection. So, it is important to keep your washing in moderation and follow the right approach.

washing hands vs sanitizers
Washing hands may be better than using sanitizers. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. High pH

Our skin’s surface is of a pH below 5, and that is ideal for the normal functioning of our skin. A pH of 7 is deemed neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic, while above it is alkaline. So, our skin’s natural pH is more towards the acidic side. However, as per Dr Sethi, soaps and some washes are of a high pH. And, this in itself disrupts the skin barrier, causing high chances of infection.

3. Too much handwashing causes irritation

Excessive handwashing irritates and makes our skin more prone to infection. It is so because irritation opens up the skin barrier and can trigger eczema-like rashes which make our skin irritable and becomes a breeding ground for infection.

4. Soap can get stuck under our rings

While we wash our hands, it is normal for us to wear our accessories or jewelry pieces like rings. “Soap can get stuck under our rings, causing irritation and wetness, and can result in more fungal infection.” Washing our hands while wearing any jewellery can make it difficult for the soap to pass through, and it can get stuck under our accessories causing issues of dry skin.

Also read: 5 steps to wash hands properly to stop the spread of diseases

soap for hands
Use soap judiciously! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Too much handwashing can leave our skin parched

Regular handwashing and sanitizing can leave our skin parched. And, when there is less water in the skin, it is more prone to damage. The natural barrier of our skin is made up of lipids, oils, and ceramides. Hence, constant washing rips off that layer of protective oil from the skin’s barrier. It is then unable to revive its moisture and becomes excessively dry.

So, before falling into this habit of washing hands too much, we should bear in mind the ill effects of it.



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