It’s official: Most Americans are now germaphobes

Americans are Mr. and Mrs. Clean.

Cleanliness has become a priority since the start of the pandemic back in March. With Americans practicing social distancing, mask-wearing and excessive hand-washing, the pandemic has put on emphasis on the importance of cleanliness as a way to protect ourselves from the coronavirus.

Beyond wearing a mask to protect ourselves from droplet transmission, regular hand washing has been touted as one of the best ways to remove germs and avoid getting. Little to-go bottles of hand sanitizer have become everyday essentials like your wallet, going everywhere you go to protect yourself in public (and especially on public transportation).

But how often are Americans washing their hands daily? Nearly a dozen times, according to a new study.

The average American washes their hands 10 times per day since the start of the pandemic, while sanitizing them an additional eight times, according to a new survey by OnePoll on behalf of Muse Health. The study, which polled 2,000 Americans about their new cleaning habits since the beginning of the pandemic, found that the necessary hand-washing has made life hard on hands — literally.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said their hands feel drier, while nearly three in 10 of respondents claimed their hands are flaky from the increased hand washing and sanitizing. Twenty-two percent even said their hands have bled as a result of hand-washing.

These side effects could be caused due to the necessity to keep clean at all times. Fifty-seven percent of respondents are using hand sanitizer after touching any common surfaces, like door handles, turnstiles, car door handles, and shopping carts. Hand sanitizer is recommended for use when soap and water isn’t easily accessible, according to health officials, but why exactly does over-washing cause pain or flaking in the hands?

“The outermost layer of our skin is composed of oils and wax, and it acts as both a shield from the outside and a guard that maintains natural moisture in the skin,” said Sara Hogan, a dermatologist at UCLA Health – Santa Monica Medical Center. “This natural barrier is broken down by the suds created by soap while washing hands, which does not discriminate between unwanted oil, germs, debris and natural oils in the skin. Not applying hand cream can lead to dryness, redness, itching, flaking, discomfort and in severe cases, cracks in the skin. Those with preexisting dermatologic conditions like eczema can experience worsening symptoms.”

The germaphobic tendencies of Americans is certainly a welcoming sign that people are taking the coronavirus seriously, but it does come with a caveat: less romance.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they are less likely to hold hands with their romantic partner due to concerns of spreading germs. More than half of respondents (64%) said they’ve become a germaphobe due to the pandemic.