What do hands have to do with our mouth, and why is a dental office writing about this? Well, it turns out that, like other healthcare providers, we are expert hand washers because washing hands keep us and you safer from illness and germs. Before, after, and sometimes during patient care, we wash our hands thoroughly to remove any bacteria and also to remove the powder that is often present in our examination gloves. Frequent hand washing has always been an essential part of a healthy personal health routine, but in this world of COVID-19, and as we head into flu season, it is imperative. Along with frequent hand washing can come hand irritation and even allergic contact dermatitis. Over his many years in practice, San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD, and his team have learned how to keep their hands happy and pain-free. Let start by identifying what we use to wash our hands. Hand hygiene products fall into a few different categories: soap, synthetic detergents, antiseptic cleansers, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Each substance has different cleansing properties and pH values. The pH of healthy skin is between 4.5 and 5.5, while most soaps and cleansers have a pH of between 8.5-10; this is why our skin often dries out with frequent washing. If you are struggling with dry skin and irritation, try the following tips that have been adopted in Dr. Loev's office. To help protect your skin:
- Try and find soaps and cleansers that have a lower pH; around 7 is excellent. Liquid soaps are gentler than bar soaps that often contain binders with a high pH so opt for those instead.
- Hot water does not clean hands better, so opt for cold or lukewarm water when washing hands.
- Don't forget to wash and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Try singing the happy birthday song in your head twice, or out loud if that makes you smile.
- Lovely smelling soap is great, but it can contain allergens or substances that irritate hands.
- Use moisturizer without common allergens and fragrance after hand washing. If hands are really raw, try a balm like Vaseline on your hands instead of just moisturizer.
- If you have to wear gloves or opt to wear gloves, make sure that your hands are completely dry before putting them on.
- Blot hands rather than rub drying hands dry to keep abrasions from forming
- If your hands are really chapped, hand sanitizer can be another option to limit handwashing until your skin recovers. However don't just use hand sanitizer before eating, after using the bathroom, [or] when hands are visibly soiled — hand washing is king in these situations.
San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office that overlooks San Francisco's Union Square. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist, Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty; call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today.