Recently I have noticed that my hands have become awfully dry and are peeling. I don’t use moisturiser as I have never had this problem before. Due to my job I have to wash my hands several times a day with antibacterial scrub and hot water. The peeling is rather embarrassing. Can you advise any solution?
Emma Hammerfield, Sutherland
Emma you don’t say what your job is, but friends of mine in food preparation, hairdressing and nursing complain of dermatitis.
Avoid contact with detergents and other strong cleansing agents or use plastic gloves. Don’t apply hair lotion, hair cream or hair dye, or peel or squeeze oranges, lemons or grapefruit with bare hands.
Wear gloves for chopping raw food, especially onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and raw chicken. Avoid direct contact with metal, wax, shoe, floor, furniture and window polishes and be careful not to get solvents such as white spirit, petrol, trichloroethylene, turpentine and thinners on your skin.
To speed healing wash hands in luke warm water and a gentle skin cleanser without perfume or tar. Best to avoid soap, use soap substitutes instead. Rinse hands thoroughly under running water and dry carefully with a clean towel, especially between the fingers. Avoid wearing rings, but if you do, don’t wash with soap as it collects behind the ring and irritates the skin. Apply plenty of moisturiser (emollient) cream after washing hands.
Rubber can cause eczema/dermatitis, so if you wear rubber gloves, put cotton ones inside them. If water gets inside take glove off straightaway, rinse and dry it. Don’t wear gloves for more than 15-20 minutes (they get sweaty) so having a couple of pairs on the go helps.
Remember Emma, even it seems completely healed, your hands are still at risk of dermatitis for at least 4 or 5 months. So keep protecting them and using your moisturiser which forms a layer over your skin helping protect it against irritating substances that might cause your dermatitis to flare again.