Build your first line of defense Moisturize flaky hands to prevent infections


Did you know that our skin is our first line of defense against infections?

US dermatologist Dr. Joyce I. Imahiyerobo-Ivan Ip of Norwell, Massachusetts advises her patients against over handwashing.

But with worries against contacting the COVID-19 virus, handwashing has become the prime sanitation protocol. One might even say that it has become quite a preoccupation among us.

In a March 11, 2020 interview with Jeneé Osterheldt, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and culture writer of The Boston Globe Newspaper, Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ivan Ip said that “Mother Nature has given us a protective barrier in our skin. We have antimicrobial peptides in our skin to help fight off infection. What happens when your skin gets excessively dry, is there is inflammation and it impairs the barrier.”


Moisturize for added protection 

With a new sanitation protocol released mid-March this year by the Philippine Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, which advise practicing frequent handwashing for 20 seconds each time, it may be safer to go beyond this.

And as the Philippines’ COVID-19 cases continue to rise (8,033 confirmed cases neither dead nor recovered as of May 6, 2020), we are seeing a lot of handwashing and no moisturizing indeed.

Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ivan Ip tipped that if our hands are dry, ashy, and cracking that puts us at greater risk of infection. She advises the liberal use of some moisturizers because our skin is our first line of defense.

But while our best defense is hand hygiene, she explained that part of this is maintaining the skin’s barrier. She added that we should do this by moisturizing our hands.


VCO enriched lotion at DOST ITDI 

So which moisturizer or lotion should we go for?

Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ivan Ip said that it may be wise to refrain from using water-based lotions.

This is because all areas of contact in public areas require us to sanitize our hands with alcohol-based sanitizers while we spread on soaps at home.

Her advice? Go for oil-based creams to maximize moisture.

We can, of course, choose from a variety of commercially available moisturizers, which contain several types of oil or butter in it including argan oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter.

Luckily, DOST-ITDI has been at work on developing a hand and body lotion and cream enriched with the much-advertised miracle oil – virgin coconut oil or VCO.

Led by Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres, Scientist I and Chief of the Standards and Testing Division (STD-ITDI), together with her all-women team, is capitalizing on the unique properties of VCO.

Currently the hottest product in the market, VCO is riding on the crest of a national interest spurred by the need to find a “cure” for the COVID-19 disease.

Long established by chemists and pharmacologists in the West (refer to the previous article on VCO: The “miracle” oil?) for possessing antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, ITDI’s VCO-enriched hand and body cream and lotion explored their antifungal properties.

Fungal infections are generally very difficult to treat albeit many are superficial; that is, they occur on the skin. A product that can inhibit skin fungal infection is thus very valuable.

To this end, Dr. Torres has conducted and proven in clinical tests the efficacy and safety of the lotion and cream as antifungal products.

For the tests, the lotion and cream with 5.0% concentration of VCO were tried to determine their inhibitory activity and reactivity against two fungal strains, Microsporum canis, and Candida albicans.

The former causes ringworm of the scalp and body. The latter can cause skin infection in the armpits, groin, and the skin between the fingers and toes.

As expected, the lotion and cream arrested growth and infection of the two fungal strains. Further, these were found to be safe for use as shown by the negative dermal irritation results.

Truly, complying with the COVID-19 sanitation protocol can be drying our hands.

But who says that healthy, beautiful hands and skin, as our first lines of defense against infections, cannot be ours when ITDI’s VCO-enriched lotion and cream are here for you? (AMGuevarra\\ ITDI S&T Media Service) 

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