hand-washing

Why it's important to wash your hands even in isolation - and why moisturiser is necessary

Alex Light

With so much information available surrounding Covid-19 and the measures we should be taking to keep ourselves as protected as possible – especially around washing our hands - it’s hard to know what to believe. With this in mind, we called upon NHS GP Dr Gero Baiarda, one of the hundreds of GPs currently on-call at GP-on-demand service GPDQ, to give us the facts around washing our hands so we can sort fact from fiction for once and for all. 

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who

The World Health Organisation has posted these hand washing instructions on Instagram

"There is a myth circulating that washing your hands isn’t as important when self-isolating, as you’re virus-free," Gero tells us. "But if there are any external items such as shopping, deliveries or post entering your home, hand washing remains very important. Every time you wash your hands, you break the chain of infection. 

"If in doubt, give them a wash! Do this for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water and if you have paper towels that you can throw away, this is better than using a communal towel. If using towels, dedicate one to each person in the house, keep them separate and wash them daily."

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There have also been lots of questions around hand sanitiser, and whether it is as effective as washing your hands in soap and water. "Unfortunately not," says Gero. "Squirting a little bit of alcohol gel on your palms and rubbing them together is not effective. You need to cover the entire surface of both hands including fingers and thumbs, but this should be done only after the hands are free of any residues – such as after sneezing. The small nozzle on bottles of sanitiser are part of the problem, as people assume a small amount is ample."

moisturiser

Using moisturiser after washing hands can be beneficial

With more frequent hand washing, our hands can become dry and even cracked. Is it safe to use moisturiser after washing? "Yes - moisturising the skin is very important," says Gero. "The virus can lodge itself in damaged skin on your hands that are cracked by repeating washing, so it’s important to try to avoid this. Keeping fingernails short will reduce the risk of sheltering and passing on the virus, too."

For more information, visit gpdq.co.uk

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