Background: Aim of the study was to determine the effect of the regular use of a hand cream after washing hands on skin hydration and skin roughness.
Methods: Twenty-five subjects washed hands and forearms with a neutral soap four times per day, for 2 minutes each time, for a total of two weeks. One part of them used a hand cream after each hand wash, the others did not (cross over design after a wash out period of two weeks). Skin roughness and skin hydration were determined on the forearms on days 2, 7, 9 and 14. For skin roughness, twelve silicon imprint per subject and time point were taken from the stratum corneum and assessed with a 3D skin analyzer for depth of the skin relief. For skin hydration, five measurements per subject and time point were taken with a corneometer.
Results: Washing hands lead to a gradual increase of skin roughness from 100 (baseline) to a maximum of 108.5 after 9 days. Use of a hand cream after each hand wash entailed a decrease of skin roughness which the lowest means after 2 (94.5) and 14 days (94.8). Skin hydration was gradually decreased after washing hands from 79 (baseline) to 65.5 after 14 days. The hand wash, followed by use of a hand cream, still decreased skin hydration after 2 days (76.1). Over the next 12 days, however, skin hydration did not change significantly (75.6 after 14 days).
Conclusion: Repetitive and frequent hand washing increases skin dryness and roughness. Use of a hand cream immediately after each hand wash can confine both skin dryness and skin roughness. Regular use of skin care preparations should therefore help to prevent both dry and rough skin among healthcare workers in clinical practice.