Hand sanitisers, disinfectants and surgical masks have been flying off the shelves ever since the Covid-19 outbreak was announced. Panic-buying and hoarding ensued, as people were afraid of getting infected with the coronavirus that originated from China.
Many of them were religiously washing their hands and using sanitisers as experts said that the disease was spread through contact with droplets. However, there is something called “too much of a good thing” because now, there are some medical experts that said that using too much alcohol-based hand sanitisers can actually raise the risk of infection through skin disorders.
According to Japan Today, experts said that washing your hands with soap too many times can have the opposite effect. This is because washing with soap too often can abrade the skin, weakening its ability to work as a barrier to keep moisture in and harmful agents out.
Using alcohol-based sanitisers excessively and washing your hands is not good because it can remove “normal bacterial flora”. This bacterial flora coats the skin and helps to fend off any invasion of pathogenic agents such as norovirus.
A spokeswoman of Japanese consumer and chemical products maker Kao Corp said, “Of course, it is necessary to wash hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers in order to reduce transmission of the new virus, but overdoing anything is not good.”
Meanwhile, alcohol-based sanitiser is also similar, as disinfecting with alcohol deprives your skin of oil and water. This can make your skin rough and chapped if you use it excessively. When you use too much of these chemical substances on your hands, it could cause skin irritation problems as the normal barrier function is disrupted and makes it more vulnerable.
“Dry and damaged skin could become a hotbed of disease bacteria and also increase the risk of viruses entering the body through cuts in the skin. To prevent infection, it is much more important to wash hands with a moderate amount of soap for more than 30 seconds in an effective manner than to wash hands several times a day,” the spokeswoman said.
She added that people should also wipe their hands with a paper towel or clean towel after washing. This is because wet hands can lead to skin disorders and enable pathogens to attach to the hands. She also advised the public to apply lotion or moisturising cream after that as it helps to keep the skin from chapping and strengthen the barrier.
While it’s good to practise good personal hygiene such as washing hands, remember not to overdo it!
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