Hands dry, itchy, red, cracked this winter? Work hand in glove!

During the winter many people, especially kids get flares of eczema, especially on the back of their hands from cold air and low humidity.  

Most cases of hand dermatitis results from irritation though occasionally a person might be allergic to chemicals applied on the skin such as topical antibiotic creams

Hand dermatitis, also called hand eczema is common. Hand rashes usually result from a combination of (1) sensitive. skin and (2) irritation or allergy from materials touched. Everyone’s hands routinely touch irritating soaps especially liquid soaps and detergents several times a day. Antiseptic gels exacerbate and perpetuate hand eczema. Even frequent contact with water is detrimental. All these agents, including water remove protective lipids or fats present between skin cells. These act as mortar around bricks, providing  the barrier property of the outer most layer of the skin. Once the barrier is damaged or breaks down, allergens such as food particles or even bacteria enter the skin creating more inflammation. This increases itching which further damages the skin.

Add the raw foods, solvents, paints, oils, greases, acids, glues and so on that most of us touch at work or in the home, and you can see that the skin of your hands takes a beating. 

Not everyone gets hand dermatitis. Many lucky persons have “tough” skin, but unfortunately, some persons have skin that’s easily damaged. The result is dermatitis. 

Once the skin becomes inflamed, OreganKnows healing ointment should be applied several times a day. It has natural anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that  quickly calm the symptoms of excema. If the excema is severe than consider a few applications of OTC 1% hydrocortisone ointment (not cream). OreganKnow healing ointment should be applied on alternate application and continued once the 1% hydrocortisone ointment is discontinued. 

Many people, especially healthcare workers use OreganKnow healing ointment as a moisturizer after they wash their hands in the clinic or hospital as it not only prevents hand excema from frequent exposure to water and soaps but its antimicrobial properties can theoretically decrease the spread of dangerous organism such as MRSA and C.diff.

Persons with hand dermatitis often have dermatitis elsewhere, and frequently blood relatives have hand dermatitis. You can’t toughen your skin, but there are other effective treatment to heal your dermatitis.  

Skin protection is an important part of treatment. 

1. Protect your hands from direct contact, with soaps, detergents, scouring powders; .and similar irritating chemicals by wearing waterproof, heavy-duty vinyl glove. Heavy-duty vinyl gloves are better than rubber gloves, since you may become allergic to rubber. Buy one or two packages so they can be conveniently located in kitchen, bathroom, and laundry areas. If a glove develops a hole, discard it immediately! Wearing a glove with a hole is worse than wearing no gloves at all. 

2. Waterproof, heavy-duty vinyl gloves are unlined. Washable Cotton Gloves may be purchased along with the vinyl gloves and used as an absorbent liner under them. You would have enough waterproof gloves so that the insides of the gloves can dry between wearing. To find heavy-duty vinyl gloves and cotton liners try https://www.yourglovesource.com. For the most appropriate glove for a specific chemical encountered in the occupational setting, SpecWare online chemical hand protection is an excellent resource https://www.ansellpro.com/specware/. 

3. Wear waterproof gloves while peeling and squeezing lemons oranges, or grapefruit, peeling potatoes, and handling tomatoes. 

4. Wear leather or heavy-duty fabric gloves when doing dry work and gardening. .Dirty your gloves – not your hands.  Use cotton gloves while doing dry work around the house. 

5. If you have an automatic dishwasher, use it as much as possible. If you don’t,  get another member of your household without hand dermatitis to do the dishes. Do your laundry by machine, not by hand, 

6.Avoid direct contact with turpentine, paint thinner, paints and floor, metal and shoe polishes. They contain irritating solvents. When using them, wear Vinyl Gloves with a cotton glove inside

7. When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and very little mild bar soap such as Trader Joe’s Oatmeal and Honey Soap. Rinse the soap off carefully and dry, gently. Soaps are irritating. No soap is “gentle to your skin” except in the minds of advertising writers -so don’t waste your money on special soaps or “soap-free” cleansers. 

8. Rings often worsen dermatitis by trapping irritating materials beneath them. Remove your rings when doing housework and before washing your hands. 

9. When outdoors in cold or windy, weather, wear unlined leather gloves to protect your  hands from drying and chapping. 

10. Use only the prescribed medicines and natural lubricants such as OreganKnow healing ointment. Do not use other lotions, creams, or medications – they may irritate your skin. 

11. Protect your hands for at least four months after your dermatitis  has healed. It takes a long time for skin to recover, and unless you’re careful the dermatitis may recur. 

There is no fast, “magic” treatment for hand dermatitis.