Lilly and Madelaine are twin sisters who are now 16 years old. They came into the world six weeks early and in extremely fragile health. But Madelaine’s situation was by far the most serious: she had a hole in her heart and she couldn’t breathe on her own.
The doctors gave her up for lost. However, a nurse had a great intuition: she decided to put the two twins together in the same incubator, skin to skin. Lilly instinctively hugged her sister. The contact of the two girls was immediately therapeutic and Madelaine’s health improved immediately.
The true story of these two sisters has been turned into a documentary entitled Twins , in which skincare firm Nivea wants to highlight the enormous health benefits of physical contact.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. In an adult it occupies about two square meters and weighs about five kilos. Human beings also have the most sensitive skin of all mammals, equipped with millions of somatosensory receptors. When someone hugs us, we secrete a huge amount of endorphins, one of the substances that the body makes to relieve pain and produce a feeling of well-being.
Numerous scientific studies show that feeling each other’s skin has multiple health benefits: it decreases physical pain, strengthens the immune system, calms the heart rate and normalizes blood pressure, reduces agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, increases the chances of survival in premature babies.
And, from a psychological point of view, it raises the level of well-being hormones, reduces the feeling of loneliness and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The coronavirus, however, has drastically restricted such beneficial contact for health. Two extensive investigations carried out by Nivea at the global level, before and during the pandemic, reveal how physical contact in the closest circle (family and friends) has diminished for more than a third of those surveyed with the arrival of the covid-19.
A drop that has been especially significant in Spain, where the rubbing of skin on skin with friends and family has been reduced for two out of three people. In total, 71% of Spaniards maintain that they now have less physical contact with their inner circle, compared to 38% of those surveyed globally.
This lack of physical contact has led to an increase in the feeling of loneliness. To the point that more than half of Spaniards say that during isolation due to the pandemic they have felt more alone than ever in their lives.
Nivea’s study also shows how important contact with other people is considered, both physically and emotionally. In fact, nine out of ten respondents consider that it is essential to be able to have and enjoy a full and happy life. However, that desire remains largely unsatisfied.
In Spain, four out of every five people who live alone state that they do not experience this physical contact on a daily basis. Almost two out of three respondents confess that they would like to receive more hugs.
Likewise, one in four adolescents says they feel lonely. And the arrival of the coronavirus has made it even more difficult to experience that skin-to-skin contact that we all need, causing nine out of ten Spaniards to realize how important it is for health.
But there are also reasons for hope. 74% of Spaniards have realized during isolation due to the pandemic how important it is to touch others and eight out of ten hope to compensate for the lack they are having once the health crisis ends. More than half of the country’s population wishes that, when the coronavirus is finally defeated, skin-to-skin contact with their close circle increases.
Given these findings, the Nivea brand, which for more than 100 years has been synonymous with beautiful and healthy skin, has decided to launch the initiative of its brand purpose #CareForHumanTouch to value the health benefits of touching others, and to promote greater contact between people, once circumstances permit.
Nivea has committed to promoting health and well-being through projects related to physical contact over the next four years, with an investment of 20 million euros in local projects related to skin-to-skin contact around the world that will arrive 150,000 people at risk of loneliness, including prematurely born babies, people with vision problems or the elderly with dementia. In addition, Nivea has set itself the goal of publicizing the proven health benefits of skin-to-skin touch to 100 million people by the year 2025.
“It is crucial to be aware of the need and benefits of skin-to-skin contact for health. We are going to assume that role and we will continue to be the guardians of human contact and the union between people.
Although we may be forced to maintain social distance from each other during the pandemic, we have to maintain and intensify our closest relationships as a shield against loneliness. Within our narrower family circle, skin-to-skin contact is therefore more important than ever ”, emphasizes Ralph Zimmerer, Vice President of Global Nivea Brand Identity & Brand Capability.
This initiative is part of the purpose of Nivea #CareForHumanTouch (Let’s Take Care of Human Contact) and will start with the launch of Twins, the documentary video that shows the real story of the twins Lilly and Madelaine and that reveals how the effects of physical contact are so powerful that can literally save lives.
”Nivea has always been dedicated to skin care and we have always taken care of people. This is what has defined Nivea from the beginning. With our contribution we want to make a difference and we will use the influence and reach of Nivea to spread the positive effects of human contact for health ”, underlines Stefan De Loecker, CEO of Beiersdorf, an international company dedicated to skin care for more than 135 years with leading global brands such as Nivea.