A leading Irish dermatologist is urging people to take off their rings during the Covid-19 emergency and avoid washing with boiling water and harsh soaps to prevent dry and cracked hands.
Skin expert with Dublin's Blackrock Clinic Dr Rosemary Coleman is advising people to ditch their wedding and dress rings at the minute to ensure your hands are thoroughly cleaned.
She is also advising where possible to avoid carbolic soap or perfumed hand creams and use non-perfumed soaps or sanitiser instead, which is softer on the hands.
"People have been washing their hands frequently for a number of weeks now and many are beginning to get dry, cracked and sore hands which could then become infected if not treated," she said.
"Wash your hands using lukewarm water with non-perfumed soap.
"Unless getting rid of heavy grime, use sanitiser where possible which is not as harsh on the hands.
"Even before the pandemic, medics used sanitiser between patients instead of soap for that reason.
"Soap is alkaline and your skin is acidic so the soap binds to the fats in your skin and strips off the protective layer - it's like adding detergent to a frying pan and watch it cut through the grease.
"Use towels of course at home but if outside, use paper towels and avoid hand-dryers which can spread the droplets. Rub don't scrub your hands. Be gentle.
"Leave your hands a little damp before applying moisturiser which then traps in the moisture and hydrates them."
Dr Coleman states: "People with otherwise normal skin could develop irritant dermatitis, typically on the backs of their hands and finger-webs at this time and other people who are prone to allergies could get dermatitis on both their palms and dorsa of hands
"I'd recommend to use soap substitutes such as Elave, which is made in Co Louth or Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, both of which are inexpensive and gentle on the hands.
"Try and avoid heavily perfumed soaps and hand creams and consider using products such as Simple, Elave, CeraVe or La Roche Posay hand creams.
"If you have cuts and cracks, buy a 1% hydrocortisone cream over the counter.
"If you have a tendency for psoriasis or eczema, ask your GP for something like Fucibet cream to be used on your hands only to treat the dermatitis and any infected areas.
"Take the wedding, engagement and dress rings off and just keep washing or sanitising your hands, even if you are indoors all day.
"It is the most important thing to do and a great habit anyway for everyone to get into."