Handwashing is necessary to keep germs at bay, but our skin can suffer from the harsh, drying effects. In this guest blog post, dermatologist Dr. Lisa Benest explores why these irritations occur and how a simple garden marigold can provide restorative relief.
Hand washing, scrubbing, and sanitizing, oh my! Our skin can sure take a beating. In my practice, the number one reason for dry, irritated, cracked and even bleeding and painful hands is the overuse of disinfectants, soaps, and sanitizers. Keeping hands clean is essential now more than ever, so what can we do to protect and comfort our skin in the meantime?
About Our Skin Barrier
Our skin provides a natural barrier between ourselves and the environment. Its purpose is to keep out harmful or irritating chemicals, as well as infectious strains of bacteria, while maintaining hydration and softness. With dry, cracked skin, that barrier becomes compromised, allowing chemicals or bacteria to enter the skin, which can create an even bigger problem like infection.
Calendula to the Rescue!
Good news — dry, cracked skin is pretty easy to treat! I advise my patients to moisturize regularly. This could mean up to 10 times a day if the skin is really suffering, or less often as the barrier becomes restored and the irritation improves.
First, you’ll need to choose between using an ointment or a cream. The difference between these is the base (or vehicle) in which the active ingredient is placed. Ointments are more sticky or greasy and have a heavy feel. Creams absorb more quickly, leaving less residue on the skin. Simply stated, a cream has a water base and an ointment has an oil base.
For excessive dryness and dry patches, I recommend using an ointment that contains homeopathic Calendula officinalis (garden marigold), such as Boiron Calendula Ointment. The thick texture helps soothe and protect the skin, while the Calendula active ingredient promotes healing. Calendula Cream is another option. It has the same soothing active ingredient, but with a lightweight texture that’s easy to spread on hands, face, or body.
Bottom Line: Whether you prefer a cream or an ointment, make sure you apply it often enough to help repair and restore your skin to its natural healthy state.
About Lisa Benest, MD: Dr. Benest is a board-certified dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She has been in private practice for the past 20 years, and extensively integrates nutrition and homeopathy with traditional dermatology treatments for both children and adults at her Burbank, Calif. office.
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