Why is it so important to wash your hands

We know that our hands are one of the main sources of contamination. That’s why the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends washing our hands regularly and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when we don’t have access to water. In less than a year, our habits have been transformed by the arrival of the novel Coronavirus and we have all adopted this essential act of hygiene to help fight its spread.

A hygiene act for everyone

Hand hygiene has made remarkable progress. New reflexes have become the norm thanks to increased hand hygiene education, with positive benefits for the health of all. Figures from studies carried out since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic speak for themselves.

of study participants wash their hands after every outing vs. 67% before the epidemic1

wash their hands as often as possible vs. 38%1

of healthcare workers wash their hands even more regularly than before2

1DOĞAN, Mehmet, and Muhammet Bayraktar. "COVID-19 with a Public Health Perspective: Measures Taken in Turkey and Public Compliance with the Measures." Iranian Journal of Public Health 49 (2020): 67-75.
2Kiely, L. F., et al. "Irritant contact dermatitis in healthcare workers as a result of the COVID19 pandemic: a crosssectional study." Clinical and experimental dermatology (2020)

Let’s be clear. Hand washing with soap or sanitiser gel is more important than ever to protect us and our loved ones. These products have an effective ‘biocide’ action that kills viruses, bacteria and yeasts. And, hand sanitiser has been proven an effective way to wash your hands without soap, to avoid spreading COVID-19. We now all have our little pocket hand sanitiser, always close at hand. But as the months pass, it’s clear that repeated handwashing can have secondary effects on the skin – from dryness to irritations, itching, burning sensations, cracking and even contact eczema. The symptoms are diverse and, in extreme cases, result in splitting and the risk of infection. Both adults and children are affected, although those with naturally dry or atopic skin are at greater risk.

Damaged sensitive skin hands
Due to COVID19, majority of the population experienced dry skin
General public 84% of people questioned experienced dry skin including itching, cracking and irritation.
Due to COVID19, the healthcare workers experienced dermatological problems
Healthcare workers 97% of healthcare professionals experienced dermatological problems linked to the regular use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, 86% suffered from dermatitis.

Why does repeated handwashing damage your skin?

Why do we sometimes have the impression that hand sanitizer burns the skin?
Why does our skin feel a little tighter after every use?
Why does its tolerance for this essential hygiene fall?

The negative effects of soap and hand sanitizer gel on the skin are linked to their disinfectant properties. Their positive impact against viruses is also their negative impact on our skin.

Why are hand sanitizers effective at stopping viruses? The virucide power of antibacterial hand lotions lies in their capacity to destroy the lipidic membranes that encase viruses. 

The problem? Our skin also contains large amounts of lipids. Intensive use of hydroalcoholic gels and alcohol-based hand sanitizers therefore damages the lipids that form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface, making it more fragile. Without lipids (fats), the skin becomes very dry and more susceptible to the unpleasant conditions previously listed.


Undermining the skin’s barrier function

Our skin is designed to envelop and protect us from external irritations. But if an external factor destabilises its natural balance, the skin can no longer carry out this protective role correctly. This is exactly what alcohol-based hand sanitizers do. By protecting us from contamination, they damage the skin’s integrity and destroy precious lipids.

  • Act as intercellular cement that helps maintain cohesion between skin cells – just like cement in a brick building (in yellow)
  • Form a hydrolipidic film comprising fats and sweat that covers and protects the skin’s surface (in green)

Together, the intercellular cement and hydrolipidic film enable the skin to carry out its barrier function:

  1. Prevent allergens, pollution and other external toxic elements from entering the skin
  2. Prevent excessive water loss by reducing evaporation to maintain the barrier function

Regularly using hydroalcoholic gel or washing your hands dissolves the skin’s lipids. The barrier function is therefore no longer effective, water loss increases, and the skin presents the signs characteristic of dry, very dry and fragile skin – from irritation to itching, burning sensations, cracking and splitting. 

Hydrolipidic film and hand skin

How can we reconcile hygiene and hand care?

Discover more about Biphase Lipo alcoholic from NAOS, the new care act for handwashing


Health authorities have published hand hygiene steps to follow when cleaning your hands. First of all, you need to choose a gentle, non- abrasive soap, avoid very hot water and dry your hands very carefully. For a liquid hand sanitizer, choose products with at least 60% alcohol. You should also apply a moisturising product every time you wash or disinfect your hands with hydroalcoholic gel. Only an emollient, that is to say a moisturising product that softens the skin tissues, can compensate for the lipids that have been lost.

In the real world, this strategy seems difficult for many of us to apply and, in particular, healthcare professionals who wash their hands repeatedly. Not enough time. Can’t find a moisturising product. Health and safety are more important than dry skin.

In the face of this urgent, universal problem, NAOS decided to act. With dermatological laboratory BIODERMA, it has developed a new generation of hand sanitiser: the 1stdouble-action barrier hand care that disinfects like an alcohol-based hand sanitiser while also replenishing lipids. Biphase Lipo alcoholic is your all-in-one gesture that combines health and hand care.

NAOS Care first

Hazardous. Observe the precautions for use. Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Leave-on hand care sanitizer

Weakened skin All skin types Dry to very dry skin

Biphase Lipo Alcoholic

The 1st double action barrier hand care.
Eliminates viruses and replenishes skin's lipids.

For whom ?

For all the family (children older than 3 years)

BIODERMA product photo, Sensibio H2O 500ml, Micellar water for sensitive skin

Non-rinse daily cleanser

Sensitive skin Normal skin

Micellar technology

Sensibio H2O

The original Cleansing Micellar Water. Soothes and respects the skin's balance.

For whom ?

Adults, Adolescents

Rinse-off daily cleanser

Very dry, irritated to atopic sensitive skin

Skin Barrier Therapy™ patent

Atoderm Huile de douche

24h hydration and immediate comfort right from the shower.

For whom ?

For all the family (except prematures)

BIODERMA product photo, Cicabio Creme 40ml, repair cream for irritated skin

Treatment care

Irritated damaged skin

Antalgicine™ technology

Cicabio Crème

Both repairing and soothing cream.

For whom ?

For all the family (except prematures)