Hand Dermatitis


Hand Dermatitis

I. Definition:

Hand dermatitis (hand eczema) is common. Hand rashes usually result from a combination of sensitive skin and irritation or an allergic reaction from materials touched. People with hand dermatitis often have dermatitis elsewhere, and frequently blood relatives have hand dermatitis.

Hand dermatitis or Hand Eczema

II. Causes:

* We all have a natural protective film of oil on our skin. If this film is removed by soaps, detergents, chemicals, or other substances, the skin can become dry and cracked. Further exposure to environmental irritants then causes redness and inflammation.
* Some people are genetically predisposed to hand dermatitis. If you are one of these individuals, then it takes less environmental insult to cause hand dermatitis compared to someone who is not genetically pre-disposed. Hand dermatitis (hand eczema) is not contagious.

III. Treatment

* Skin protection is an important part of treatment.
* Protect your hands from direct contact with soaps, detergents, scouring powders, and similar irritating chemicals by wearing waterproof, cotton lined, gloves.
* A natural treatment such as ClearSkin-E Cream can help eliminate flare-ups and reduce redness and itching.
* Wear waterproof gloves while peeling and squeezing lemons, oranges, or grapefruit, peeling potatoes, and handling tomatoes.
* Wear heavy duty gloves when doing heavy work and gardening. Also wear cotton gloves when doing dry house work. Dermal cotton gloves are available from George Glove Company, Inc. by calling 800-631-4292.
* If you have a dishwasher, use it regularly. If not, let a member of the family do the dishes. Do your laundry by machine, not by hand (continued).
* Avoid direct contact with turpentine, paint thinner and paints. Also polishes for furniture, metal, floors, and shoes. When using them, wear heavy duty gloves because they contain irritating solvents.
* When washing your hands, use lukewarm water and a small amount of mild soap such as Dove or Basis. Rinse the soap off carefully and dry gently. All soaps are irritating. No soap is "gentle to your skin." Don't waste your money on special soaps or "soap free" cleansers.
* Rings often worsen dermatitis by trapping irritating materials beneath them. Remove your rings when doing house work and before washing your hands.
* When outdoors in cold or windy weather, wear unlined leather gloves to protect your hands from drying and chapping.
* Use only the prescribed medicines and lubricants. Do not use other lotions, creams, or medications--they may irritate your skin.
* 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 will recur.
* Cortisone ointments are used treat severe cases of hand dermatitis.
* Mud Gloves are good for working outside if you have hand dermatitis. These are machine washable gardening gloves available in several sizes from Gardener’s Supply Company. (800-863-1700, item# 10-080 for $8.95 as of 11/20/97)

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