How often in a day do you wash your hands? Do you find yourself reaching out for the hand sink every chance you get? Washing hands is considered part of your hygiene but how much of it is too much? What happens if you wash your hands too much?
Does it never make you think what happens if you wash your hands too much?
Apart from excessive hand washing being a possible insinuation of OCD, there are some other negative effects that we don’t know of. And to be fair, there are people who find themselves washing their hands more than what is deemed normal.
Here, we are going to share some of the side effects of washing your hands too much. Additionally, you will also come to know how you can mitigate this issue.
What Happens If You Wash Your Hands Too Much?
Washing your hands is the best way to avoid yourself from getting sick. This is a fact that has been proclaimed by some of the renowned health centers.
But, with the benefits, come the downsides too.
There have been warnings around that people might have been over washing hands or overusing sanitizer than what is considered normal.
Persistent and frequent washing of the hands lead to killing the bacterial from the hands, affecting your overall immune system.
Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?
And, to be honest, yes, it is confusing.
Washing your hands at normal intervals and before and after important activities is okay. That is not where the problem lies.
It starts when you are rushing to the sink every 30 minutes to wash your hands or even reaching out for a sanitizer for that matter.
According to some of the scientists and researchers, the bacteria that reside on our skin on a day to day basis have effective impacts on building our immune system.
It is what helps make you immune to the diseases that majority of us are often complaining about. But, the catch is that normal hand washing doesn’t impact the bacterial balance on the skin.
Washing hands too much is what ends up inflicting the negative impacts. It is true that washing of the hands help in getting rid of the bad bacterial every now. But, when you are overdoing it, that is what strips the skin off of the natural oils and good bacteria.
The skin is also more likely to become dry, causing cracks. This allows the bacteria an easy passage to enter into the body, causing diseases.
Let us break down the negative effects of washing hands too much into subcategories, shall we?
1. Possible risks of affected immune system
Your immune system is what protects you from the impending microbial infestations and prevents the risks of diseases.
When you are over washing hands, you are stripping your skin off of the good bacteria that are necessary for a healthy immune response.
This insinuates that even when you are washing your hands with intent to keep yourself healthy, it is doing the opposite.
The body needs a good balance of good and bad bacteria to help sustain a better immune system. So, excessive washing of hands does the complete opposite of that.
Scientists and doctors also believe that a kid who grows up with such habits of over washing hands and overusing sanitizer is likely going to have more risks of allergies in comparison to the ones who don’t.
2. Constant drying of the skin
Skin is the largest organ of the body. Did you know that?
It is comprised of numerous sebaceous glands which are responsible for secreting sebum and oils that help keep our skin soft and supple naturally.
When you wash your hands with chemical induced antibacterial soap, the same ends up stripping the skin off of the natural oils.
Even though it might not seem like a serious issue at that moment, continuous progress of this habit can affect your skin health.
It causes excessive dryness of the skin and can even end up forming cracks on the skin.
These cracks often act as an open passage for the germs to enter into the body, causing the risks of diseases.
3. Heightened risks of bacterial resistance
Even though we did talk about the immune system in the first point, this is one of the effects of too much hand washing that requires a separate subcategory.
Exposing the bacteria to antibacterial soaps and sanitizers makes the bad bacteria immune to such elements. So, it is likely that your body becomes susceptible to such bacterial interaction, affecting your immune system.
When a bacterium becomes resistant, it becomes difficult for your body to fight it.
How often should you wash your hands?
There is no standard answer when it comes to the number of times one should wash their hands.
But, that doesn’t mean that you have to wash your hands every hour because you feel the need to.
That aside, there are some instances before which you might need to wash your hands to ensure the best cleanliness and hygiene.
Some of them include:
- After using the washroom
- Before your skin care routine
- After returning home from out
- Before and after any sexual activity
- Before and after meals
These are some of the basic and standard situations that call for proper hand washing. Moreover, these are the conscious steps that you need to keep a look out on.
How to stop excessive hand washing?
Now that you know what happens if you wash your hands too much, do you still want to proceed with doing just that?
The answer is probably no, right?
Well, there are some ways that you can stop over washing hands. Let us take a look at some of the important pointers, shall we?
- Train your mind to control the urge of washing hands
- Try to not use the antibacterial soap a lot
- Keep the sanitizer out of your reach
Excessive hand washing and OCD
The correlation between excessive hand washing and OCD has been proven by studies. This paired with a number of other symptoms are often considered to pose as a possible diagnosis for OCD.
But, don’t confuse between germaphobia and OCD, these are two different things. Someone with OCD might be a germaphobe but that doesn’t mean that a germaphobe will have OCD.
If you find yourself being an extreme level germaphobe, it is better that you do get the symptoms diagnosed by someone professional.
Answering what happens if you wash your hands too much can be a struggle. There are a number of side effects and a number of factors that you do need to take a look into. It is always better than you know of the consequences before doing too much of anything and this is one such instance. So, the next time that you want to wash your hand twice within the span of an hour, think again.