'Wash hands to ward off virus, but use moisturizers to protect skin'

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Even while doing the right thing by regularly washing your hands to guard against coronavirus, people must take care not to use disinfectant and cologne carelessly, according to a Turkish skin doctor.

Filiz Topaloğlu, a dermatologist at Medipol Mega University Hospital in Istanbul, suggested using oily moisturizers every time after washing your hands to avoid overly dry skin.

"People should wash their hands with un-dyed, unscented liquid soaps for at least 20 seconds with water at tap temperature to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

"If you can't wash your hands, we recommend disinfecting them with alcohol-based hand disinfectant or cologne with an alcohol content of at least 70%."

But she stressed that using hand sanitizer cannot replace hand washing, explaining: "Using these materials too often can damage the hand skin's protective layer, possibly causing dehydration and the skin drying out."

"If skin dryness continues and steps aren't taken in time, this can result in redness, thickening, and roughening of the skin, and irritation," she said.

She added that dryness can lead to cracks and itching and finally bleeding, tingling and pain.

Eczema

Topaloğlu also warned that patients who have eczema in particular need to protect their skin against dryness.

To avoid eczema, she urged "not washing with very hot or cold water, rinsing hands thoroughly, and moistening the hands after each washing with oil-based moisturizers while our skin is slightly moist."

She said hands must be rinsed and moisturizers applied after using disinfectant and advised people not to wear accessories such as rings, wristbands, and watches due to a greater risk of developing eczema if soap and detergent accumulate under them.

She also underlined was that besides washing hands, people should wear gloves during daily household chores involving detergents such as washing dishes and doing the laundry.

On whether excessive and careless use of alcohol-based disinfectants and cologne causes skin cancer, Topaloğlu said no data is indicating that.

On the contrary, she said especially in this period, washing and disinfecting hands is quite important.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Over 1.35 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the global death toll topped 75,000 and more than 285,000 recoveries.

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