With the third month of social distancing upon us, many people have begun to adjust to their new normal and have stopped being as wary about hand-washing as when the virus first arose.
COVID-19 is still a threat, even with normal life beginning to resume, and months of vigilant hand cleaning can lead to less-than-comfortable skin.
Mathematics graduate student María Maldonado has learned this firsthand.
Maldonado works at Medical City Arlington and said in an email that she uses hand sanitizer every few minutes, especially if she’s working in the pharmacy with sterile medications.
“Every time we change gloves and/or leave the clean room we have to reapply hand sanitizer, as we have to ensure that everything is as sterile as possible,” she said.
Usually her hands are fine, but overuse of Germ-X can lead to dryness, which she remedies with lotion, she said.
“You often have to try several until you find one that works best for you,” Maldonado said. “Some of my coworkers have much drier skin even without hand sanitizer and require lotion that feels too oily to me when I use it, I have my go to brand that I found to be just right after trying a few.”
Maldonado said that handwashing is important, especially amid COVID-19, but people often overestimate the power of hand-sanitizer on its own.
“Both washing your hands and using hand sanitizer are better,” Maldonado said. “Kind of like a spectrum, hand sanitizer would be on one end and washing your hands on the other, with overlap in the middle. This is the same reason we use both at the hospital.”
But keeping clean because of COVID-19 isn’t the only recent skin care scare.
In response to the police killing of George Floyd, groups of people across America have taken to the streets to protest the incident and show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Psychology senior Paige Martinez attended her first protest last Wednesday and another the same day.
Martinez said the protests she attended were peaceful and involved marching on streets where they couldn’t be ignored. She loved that they were able to cause a form of peaceful disruption, she said, and felt accomplished in the end.
Like Martinez, the people out marching are angry, and the point of the protests runs much deeper than the sunburn that can result from it.
Still, there are ways to be safe while standing up for what you believe in, and Alexis Perez, health educator in Health Promotion and Substance Abuse for UTA Health Services has some advice.
“Wear SPF 15 sunscreen or higher that includes protection from UVA and UVB or ‘broad spectrum,’” Perez said. “Wearing lightweight long-sleeve shirts, pants, a wide brimmed hat if possible is important, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.”
Additionally, Perez said hydration is essential, and if sunburn does occur, aspirin and aloe are well-known treatments. However, protesters should also remember to stay out of the sun again until the burn has healed.
Previously, Martinez went to protests underprepared with just a bottle of water. However, she’s planning to put her pre-med training to use with the items she’s bringing now, just in case things go south and the protest gets violent.
“I actually, like, spent most of my day before work going to the store, getting medical supplies and things like that,” Martinez said. “I'm going intending to help treat people with, you know, injuries from rubber bullets and tear gas if things get really bad.”
Tear gas can cause irritated eyes, throat and skin according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Martinez still wants to protest and goes expecting the worst.
If exposed to tear gas or other riot control agents, the CDC recommends leaving the area where it was released and quickly getting to fresh air.
If your eyes are burning or your vision is blurred, remove any contacts and rinse with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes. Additionally, you should remove clothing if possible -- any clothes that have to be pulled over the head should be cut off instead. When helping others who have been exposed to riot control agents, you should avoid touching their contaminated skin.