Hand Dermatitis

Hand dermatitis is a common problem. Most hand rashes result from a combination of usually sensitive skin and irritation or allergic reaction from materials the hands touch. The hands touch an enormous number of irritating materials each day – soaps, detergents, solvents, foodstuffs, and of course, numerous materials at work such as greases, oils, chemicals glues, etc.

Since only some people get hand dermatitis, it is clear that there is an individual factor of skin sensitivity. A good many persons have skin that simply can’t “take it,” and the result is dermatitis. Obviously, we cannot give you “tougher” skin, but there are effective medicines to help heal the dermatitis and we can teach you proper skin care to decrease how often it recurs.

In treating had dermatitis, it is important that the skin be protected from contact with irritating and sensitizing materials. This instruction sheet gives you detailed directions on how to prevent or minimize irritation from substances that touch your hands.

Protect your hands from direct contact with soaps, detergents, scouring powders, and similar harsh chemicals by wearing waterproof heavy-duty vinyl gloves. Heavy-duty vinyl gloves are preferable to rubber gloves, since patients occasionally become allergic to rubber gloves. Such heavy-duty vinyl gloves are available at paint stores and certain pharmacies, as well as other stores. If a glove develops a hole, discard it. Wearing a glove with a hole is worse than not wearing gloves.

The waterproof heavy-vinyl gloves may be either lined or unlined. The unlined type is preferred. For added comfort and to decrease sweating, cotton gloves may be worn under the vinyl gloves. Use these especially if your hands sweat under the vinyl gloves, since this moisture makes hand dermatitis worse

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

Avoid direct contact with turpentine, paint thinner, paints, metal polish, floor polish, furniture polish, and shoe polish. These all contain irritating solvents, and you should wear heavy-duty waterproof gloves when using them.

Wear heavy-duty cotton gloves when doing dry work. When these get soiled, exchange them for a clean pair. This way you wash gloves, not hands!!

When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and sudsless soap. After rinsing your hands, do not dry with a towel, instead shake the excess water off and immediately apply a protective ointment.

Rings often aggravate dermatitis by trapping irritating materials beneath them. Consequently, rings should not be worn during housework or other work, even when the dermatitis has healed. Try not to wash your hands with soap when wearing a ring, as soap and detergents tend to accumulate under rings and cause irritation.

Protect your hands from drying and chapping in cold or windy weather by wearing unlined leather gloves.

It is necessary for you to protect your hands from irritants for at least four months after your dermatitis has healed. It takes a long time for skin to return to its normal state, and unless one is careful the dermatitis tends to recur.

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