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How to wash your hands the right way

We treat handwashing very seriously here at Elixir Cosmeceuticals and therefore wish to remind you that every one of us can contribute in combatting the spread of the coronavirus by following the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s (NIPH) step-by-step handwashing procedure.

Skin and hands
The skin serves several different functions and plays a critical role in overall health maintenance. It protects the skin against physical, chemical and microbial threats (barrier functions) and directly interfaces with the people and environment around us. In addition to being a large sensory organ that provides the brain with critical information about the natural environment (external stimuli such as pain, humidity, air pressure), it also operates as the body’s thermostat by regulating its temperature.

Microbial flora on hands 
The bacterial flora on the hands is commonly split into two different types: permanent and transient flora.

Permanent flora consists of microorganisms that permanently reside on the hands’ skin. While they’re generally harmless, some resident flora can become potential pathogens. 

Transient flora refers to the microorganisms that temporarily reside on the hands following exposure/contact with the environment (i.e. direct skin-to-skin contact). This includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses. 

Transient bacteria are loosely attached to the skin. While it easily can be transferred, it is also easily removed by handwashing properly.

Studies show there’s a substantial lack of hand hygiene prevalent. Either a lack of hand hygiene products are applied, or there’s not enough time attributed to the different parts of the hands such as the fingertips, between the fingers, back of the hands, and/or thumbs. Consequentially, the effects of the handwashing procedure are reduced. Rings and jewelry should be removed as part of an optimal hand hygiene practice. 

Together, we will fight the Covid-1. Refer to the video below to see how to wash your hands the right way.

Handwashing step-by-step

  1. Wet your hands and wrists with water, then apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together with soap and evenly “distribute” it on all parts of the hands, including the wrists.
  3. Scrub your hands with soap for at least 40 seconds, ideally 60 seconds. 
  4. Recognize the parts of your hands often overlooked such as thumbs, fingertips, back of the hand, and between the fingers.
  5. Rinse the soap off your hands with a steady stream of lukewarm water. If the water is too hot it could cause skin irritation.
  6. Dry your hands using a clean (kitchen) towel and use the same towel to turn the faucet off.
  7. Persistent handwashing and use of soap and/or antibacterial/disinfectant hand gel will cause skin irritation. This must be prevented and treated.

Healthy hands reduce bacterial growth
The back of the hand has a thin skin layer and contains a scarce amount of sebaceous glands comparative to other areas of the skin. This means it has weaker barrier functions.

Combine this with the frequent use of soap and water, and the skin is susceptible to dehydration and irritation. This can lead to a reduced ability in mitigating the growth and colonization of unwelcome bacteria, some of which could be harmful pathogens. Therefore, the health of the hands’ skin is critical for satisfactory hand hygiene. 

Be aware of the circumstances that can cause skin irritation:

  • Hand sanitizer applied to wet/moist skin
  • Perfumed soaps with high pH levels
  • Too hot water (above 40° C)
  • Paper towels of poor quality + incorrect use (hands should be gently dried, not scrubbed)
  • Hand sanitizers containing humectants (i.e. glycerol) prevent skin dehydration and are more gentle to the hands than hand wash.
  • For dry skin: Use moisturizing/hydrating products