We are all donning a new era, new habits, new rituals, new garb. Protective masks and gloves are now part of our wardrobe. Washing hands more than ever has also become part of our routine. As we try and rid ourselves of germs, we maybe at the same time causing or exacerbating another irritation and our hands need some help. Some could be feeling like they are polishing the whites of their skeleton, their hands are so chapped and dry from washing or using sanitizers.
So why is this happening? Dry skin is caused when the outer layer of the skin does not retain adequate water volume and the barrier of the skin cells are disrupted. Initially, itchiness and redness present, but irritation usually worsens to fissures and open cuts, brittle fingernails, unhealthy cuticles, cut fingertips and possibly infection, bacterial or fungal. Disturbing sensations of itch, burning, swelling and pain may pursue.
There are various causes for hand rashes. Detergents, antiseptics, soaps and even too much water can lead to cracks in hands and bleeding. These ingredients that help maintain hygiene remove some of the skin’s natural moisturizing oils, causing a physical assault to the skin structure. The content in these sanitizers could also cause an allergy or irritant reaction. Some rashes and inflammation of the skin, known as dermatitis, appear quickly, but others may develop over time even if prior products never before caused trouble. Fragrances, preservatives and dyes that are put into cleaning supplies could lead to hand dermatitis. Metals from jewelry can cause a delayed hypersensitivity.
Skin disorders, like atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema can become very flared from too much hand washing. It is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that certainly can be triggered by too much hand washing. Another form of atopic dermatitis is known as dyshidrosis. Folks who suffer from this will often see little bumps, bubbles or blisters, called vesicles, on the sides of their fingers or on their palms, and the sensitive feelings of heat and itch are severe. When these vesicles burst, the skin becomes scaly and peels more. This can create an avenue for atypical microbes to enter into the cuts and become infected. Psoriasis is an autoimmune chronic condition and some patients will develop pustules on their palms. Hand washing and/or any daily activity or chore can be very painful, for some traumatizing.
So if we want to keep clean and lessen our chances of getting ill, what can we do?
At Rejuvené MD we want to protect your hands. If you are unclear about the diagnosis, find a way to see a dermatologist or have Dr. Karen evaluate how the rash looks and help identify the cause. Good hand washing guidelines can diminish the triggers of hand rashs. Avoid antiseptic gels and use non-soap gentle cleansers when washing. Use luke warm water, not hot. Limit washing time to 20-30 seconds, but make sure to wash at finger webs, palm and tops of hands. Suggested over the counter non-soap cleansers are Cetaphil, Cerave, Basis or Purpose. Rinse hands well afterwards and pat dry, don’t rub. As soon as you can, apply an oil or emollient that helps absorb the moisture and will help the skin feel more soft and supple. Some ingredients that are in emollients and creams have petrolatum or glycerin that are protective. Schmear and massage these treatments to dry brittle fingernails and cuticles, it will help condition them too. There is no need for loofahs, towels, or scrubs as we were made perfectly to wash with just our finger pads. Keep fingernails cut short and filed to avoid cutting the skin incase you scratch during the night. In fact, wearing cotton gloves while you sleep will keep the skin supple, in addition to younger-looking. Remove jewelry, even wedding rings, if you have hand rashes since dermatitis underneath may develop. If you wear gloves, make sure to avoid latex since many people do have a latex-allergy. If one is very bothered, using a 1% hydrocortisone cream over-the-counter for a week may alleviate some symptoms. If not improved, please seek guidance from a dermatologist and Dr. Karen at Rejuvené MD has specialized her practice to dermatologic care.
Lastly, do not forget to wear sunscreen when outdoors. When driving make sure the tops of your hands are well covered with sunscreen since UV-A rays penetrate through the glass and can lead to sun spots, crepy, wrinkled and aged hands. Preferably find a physical sunscreen that contains zinc or titanium that reflect the damaging ultraviolet rays off of the skin.
There are some wonderful treatments other than skincare to diminish the appearance of aged hands, as long as they are not irritated. At Rejuvené MD, we have intense pulsed light (IPL) and lasers that diminish pigmented age spots that have developed from DNA damage to the skin. Dr. Karen performs dermal filler injections to rejuvenate hands caused by diminished collagen and elastin and atrophy. Chemical peels can be applied to get rid of coarseness.
At Rejuvené MD we want to avoid flareups of underlying skin problems and prevent new troubled conditions. We are all washing and aware of the need to prevent all illness, in addition to Coronavirus. Tips for you at home and at our office are beneficial for you to stay safe, stay strong and keep your WOW!