Washing hands and wearing face masks are key steps in preventing the spread of COVID-19 but they can have serious impacts on your skin. Personally, my skin has never worse. I am constantly battling with facial acne and painfully dry hands.
This blog will detail ways in which you combat and resolve skin complaints related to the pandemic’s safety measures.
Hand care to combat dry skin
We all know that washing our hands is essential to reduce COVID-19 transmission, but it can also strip your hands of their natural oils which leaves your skin feeling dry, cracked, and painful.
Here are my top three tips to prevent and resolve these common complaints:
1. Be gentle on your hands
Chose a fragrance free and moisturising hand soap or sanitising gel to help reduce the drying effect of hand washing. It is also important to avoid using excessively hot water to minimise skin damage.
After washing your hands, apply plenty of moisturiser that is hypoallergenic and free of fragrances and dyes. Keep the moisturiser handy- next to the bathroom and kitchen sinks, in your car, and at your workplace- to ensure it is easy to repeat this critical step.
Sometimes, a combination of moisturisers works best. Lightweight creams typically draw moisture to the skin’s outer layer; look for ingredients such as urea, glycerine, or hyaluronic acid. Heavier moisturisers prevent water loss; oil-based creams, or petroleum jelly work well.
I currently use an aqueous cream during the day and coat my hands in a petroleum jelly overnight, which has been successful at keeping the dryness at bay.
3. Protect your skin with an SPF
Your hands are constantly exposed to UV rays and so I like to apply a broad-spectrum SPF 50.
Facial care to combat acne
As important as masks are, they create the perfect sweaty and damp environment for breakouts.
To help prevent breakouts, you will need a to adopt a regular skin care routine (performed morning and evening). This regimen should include:
1. A noncomedogenic cleanser
By definition, a noncomedogenic skincare product is formulated so as not to cause blocked pores. If your skin is on the oiler side, opt for a water-soluble noncomedogenic cleanser.
I like to double cleanse using the Simple Micellar Cleansing Water followed by the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, which are designed to cleanse and refresh the skin without over-stripping it or leaving it feeling tight and dry.
2. An appropriate active ingredient
Consider introducing an over-the-counter active ingredient which has been proven to treat mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts. These could be in the form of a wash or leave-on treatment containing either a benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, or sulphur.
I currently use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution which I leave on my skin after cleansing.
3. An oil free moisturiser
Choose a moisturiser that is water based, like the Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturiser, which will hydrate your skin without clogging pores.
4. A broad-spectrum SPF
It is so important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. However, too often, sunscreens can feel cakey and leave your face with a strange grey hue.
I use the Garnier Ambre Solaire Overmakeup Super UV which is perfect for reapplication throughout the day. It has an ultra-light texture that is invisible on skin whilst still providing you with an SPF of 50.
Facial care to combat mask chafing
Another common complaint for masks is their ability to cause facial chafing and blisters.
Here are 3 ways to help prevent and alleviate those sores:
1. Use a barrier ointment or bandage
To prevent and relieve skin injuries caused by pressure or friction from masks, a thick layer of zinc oxide (commonly used for nappy rashes) can soothe and protect the skin. Use it on the bridge of your nose or behind your ears.
You could also apply bandages or dressings to the areas which commonly rub like your nose, ears, and cheeks.
2. Treat blisters and sores
If a blister does form, keep it clean to prevent infection and use a bandage to create a protective barrier between the blister and the mask.
3. Experiment with a different type of mask
If you are finding a particular mask uncomfortable, why not opt for a different style, there are lots of styles to choose from on my blog titled ’17 of the best reusable masks’.
If the steps described above are not helping to protect your skin, it may be worth seeking professional help.
You can discuss further options, like a prescription hand cream or acne treatment, with your GP. They will be more than happy to explore medicinal options to ensure that you and your skin is not suffering because of the COVID-19 safety protocols.