Thursday, July 10, 2008

Take care of your hands

If you are one whose hands are constantly exposed to detergents, chemicals and water due to your work, you might want to take better care of your hands. Hair stylists, dental/medical workers like nurses and surgeons, housewives for example, are susceptible to what is called hand dermatitis, especially if their skin is the 'sensitive' type.

It could be due to internal factors such as your genes (allergy) or external factors (contact with chemicals or repetitive wetting and drying of hands which could strip off your skin's natural protective layer). The result is dry, chapped hands, redness, itchy rashes, tiny liquid-filled blisters, scaling, peeling and possible infection.

Some care tips from DermNet NZ:

Where possible, avoid wet-work and contact with irritants. Protect your hands using vinyl gloves, which are less likely than rubber to cause allergic reactions. Don't wear these for long periods, as sweating will also aggravate dermatitis. Always make sure the gloves are scrupulously clean inside.

Use emollients frequently. A thin smear of a thick barrier cream should be applied to all affected areas before work, and reapplied after washing and whenever the skin dries out.

Your doctor will prescribe topical steroids to reduce inflammation. These come in various strengths and should only be applied to areas of active dermatitis once or twice daily. Generally a potent topical steroid is used for several weeks.

If your dermatitis is infected, your doctor will prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic such as flucloxacillin for about a week. See a dermatologist if your dermatitis persists more than a few months or is severe. You may be treated with a course of oral steroids (prednisone) or other immunosuppressive medication. A form of ultraviolet radiation treatment called (PUVA) may be recommended.

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