Judging by all your cries for help via Facebook, itchy, dry or cracked hands after washing seems to be a common complaint.
The advice when it comes to preventing the spread of viruses is crystal clear – keep washing those hands. Though necessary and definitely the best thing to do – it can leave sensitive skin feeling just a bit irritated. Repeated washing – particularly with liquid soaps and hand sanitizers – can strip the hands of their natural oils leaving them dry and rough. Liquid soap usually contains chemical detergents which are notorious skin irritants. These foaming agents can aggravate the skin leaving it inflamed and prone to cracking.
For many, this marks the start of a vicious cycle, as cracked skin can become even more vulnerable to further irritation. It is also likely to become even more sensitised to chemical ingredients in hand washes and hand creams.
As with all skin afflictions, there may not be a simple single solution to the problem. Here are just a few suggested lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of irritation and help nurse your hands back to full health.
1. Avoid liquid soaps (including washing-up liquid)
The chemical detergents in liquid soaps are drying and are known skin irritants.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, or SLS, is one of the worst and is incredibly common in shampoos and body washes. The best washing up liquid for dry and sensitive hands is one without SLS, as well as free from fragrances, dyes and acids.
Always read the ingredients list on your products – good health food shops will stock SLS-free products or vegetable oil soaps which are kinder on the skin.
2. Avoid latex gloves
Many people who suffer from irritated hands turn to washing up gloves as protection from any chemicals or irritants they may come into contact with. The right washing up gloves can provide a much needed protective barrier, preventing any water or irritants from coming into contact with skin.
However, most washing up gloves are made from latex. The latex in these gloves can cause further irritation as a result of mild (or not so mild!) latex allergies.
To avoid added irritation from washing up, try vinyl washing up gloves instead. These are a good alternative to latex and tend to be easier to tolerate.
If you’re unsure as to whether you might have a latex allergy, here’s a little clue. Half of those who have a latex allergy also experience reactions when eating foods such as avocados, bananas and kiwis. Strange but true!
3. Petroleum-based products
A lot of people’s first port of call when trying to treat damaged hands is petroleum-based moisturisers or emollients.
These work as a protective barrier to prevent water loss, but as a result, can suffocate the skin. Though they may appear to work in the short term, they can sometimes worsen dryness and sensitivity in the long term.
Once the triggers have been removed, it’s time to start healing and regenerating any damaged skin.
4. Increase your intake of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3, 6 & 9) condition the skin from the inside out. Oily fish, seeds and nuts are all good sources. But if your diet is lacking in these then hemp or flaxseed oil are examples of good oil supplements.
These are best taken in pure oil form off the spoon. Always store in the fridge to keep the oil in optimum condition.
5. Moisturise and massage
Moisturise with a certified organic cream that doesn’t contain any of those chemical irritants that aggravated your hands in the first place.
Our Fragonia & Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream is intensely hydrating and its natural-active ingredients soothe skin and promote cell renewal.
For an extra intensive treatment for dry hands, try adding a couple of drops of natural plant oils to your hand cream or directly to your hands. Our best selling Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil happens to be one of the very best! Its high concentration of Vitamin A, Omega 3, 6, 7 & 9 nourish the skin and accelerate the natural healing and regeneration process.
Apply products generously at night and wear cotton gloves to allow the cream and oils to soak into your hands rather than your bedsheets!