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Skin care tips: How to Wash & Protect Your Hands

Are your hands feeling the effects of vigorous hand washing? We all know how important it is to wash our hands regularly throughout the day but over cleansing can leave the skin feeling dry and irritated. And if you have an occupation where surgical-level handwashing is required – such as in a hospital, in a kitchen or a nursery – you’ll feel the impact even more so. Read on to learn how to protect sensitive hands while keeping them ultra-clean and hygienic.

Why is hand washing important?

Our hands can carry and spread all kinds of germs and viruses such as flu and food poisoning if they are not washed regularly with anti-bacterial hand wash. You should try to wash your hands as often as possible but particularly:

  • Before eating or preparing food

  • After using the toilet

  • After changing a nappy

  • After touching animals or livestock

  • After using public transport

  • After touching contaminated surfaces

  • After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing

  • After touching an open wound

Skincare Tips: How To Wash Properly

How to wash your hands properly

You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with an anti-bacterial hand wash suited to your skin type. The NHS recommends following these simple steps to ensure your hands are completely clean and harmful viruses are removed:

Step 1: Begin by wetting your hands with fresh, warm water from a tap and apply enough soap to completely cover both hands.

Step 2: Next, rub your hands together and use one hand to rub the back of your other hand with soap.

Step 3: Clean in between your fingers and then repeat on the other hand.

Step 4: Rub your hands together and clean in between your fingers. Then, rub the back of your fingers against your palms.

Step 5: Rub your thumb using your other hand and repeat with the other thumb.

Step 6: Don’t forget to clean the tips of your fingers on the palm of your other hand, repeating with the other hand and rinsing with warm water. 

Step 7: Dry your hands thoroughly with a disposable towel.

How to care for dry, irritated or sensitive hands

If you have sensitive or very dry hands, avoid using very harsh alcohol-based cleansers as they can exacerbate damage and cause cracking and infection. A hand wash formulated with gentle anti-bacterial ingredients will maintain the skin’s natural pH while removing germs and bacteria effectively. Additionally, if you have a job that involves working with harsh chemicals, try to wear protective gloves whenever possible to protect your hands.


You can then follow with a soothing hand cream to help protect irritated skin and enrich it with natural moisturisers. Apply straight after washing your hands and again before going to bed. This should keep your skin super-soft and smooth. 

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about the expert

expert ADVICE

Dr Zac Handler

Over cleansing with harsh products and soaps can strip skin of essential oils and lipids.