Everyone wants to be healthy, and a key component of this is hygiene. Washing your hands when you come into contact with germs or bacteria, cleaning wounds to prevent infection, and washing your face and body to avoid inflammation are all key to avoiding illness. Personal hygiene also prevents uncomfortable social situations from arising. But what if the steps you were taking to keep clean were actually doing more harm than good? These four habits are picked up by many people as children or adolescents, but in the long run damage your skin and leave you even more susceptible to infection.
1. Washing your hands with hot water or alcohol hand sanitizers
Washing too much with hot water or using alcohol hand sanitizers can dry out your skin. Dry skin creates numerous cracks, which in addition to being itchy and annoying, can put you at risk for bacterial infections. Numerous studies have shown that 20–30 seconds of washing with cold water and a mild soap is as beneficial in preventing the spread of germs as hot water and alcohol hand sanitizers. Another tip to protect your hands from drying out is to moisturize with a good hand cream several times a day. This is especially important when you have to use those harsher cleaning agents.
2. Using hydrogen peroxide too often
It is common to make mistakes when implementing home remedies. It is okay to use hydrogen peroxide once on an initial wound. However, using it after that will kill the healthy cells and slow down wound healing.
3. Using a dull razor or doing a dry shave
This is often the culprit in making one susceptible to bacterial infections and an irritant dermatitis. A healthy habit is to use a good shaving gel (Aveeno Therapeutic shaving gel, etc.) with a sharp razor blade. This provides a clean shave with fewer nicks, cuts, and ingrown hairs.
4. Over-washing sensitive skin
There are many great over-the-counter ways to treat acne and rosacea, and it is tempting to try to treat these conditions as aggressively as possible. Individuals often use a wash with an exfoliating device (Clarisonic, etc.), as well as a toner and spot treatment. However, toners are usually not helpful if you are prone to dry, sensitive skin. In the long run, less is sometimes more for sensitive skin. So if you have dry, sensitive skin, the best method is to use a mild soap with a topical treatment plan—usually a moisturizing lotion and an active cream. If you can tolerate that without dry, burning, or bright red skin, then adding an exfoliating device, like a Clarisonic, one to two times a week is a good way to let your skin get adjusted.