During observational studies the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that health care workers cleaned their hands, on average, from five to thirty times during a shift. Whilst this is great for infection control you may be damaging your skin if you are regularly washing your hands.
The British Association of Dermatitis (BAD) suggests washing your hands more than 10 times a day increases your change of skin conditions such as Dermatitis. One of the most common forms is Irritant Contact Dermatitis which has symptoms from irritation, dryness and itching to cracking and bleeding. It is very common amongst medical professionals.
Dermatitis can occur due to many factors, including soaps, harsh chemicals and repeated contact with water. Frequent hand washing can remove the oils in your skin that are vital to protect and moisturise it. Without these your hands can become dry and your skin will be more vulnerable to chemicals and irritants. Allergic Dermatitis can also occur with hand sanitising products and gloves.
Protect Your Hands
At Medisave we know how important it is to practice good hand hygiene but we don’t want your hands to suffer. The following steps can help to reduce soreness and protect your hands.
Use an Alcohol Based Hand Sanitiser
When hand washing use an alcohol based hand sanitisers containingemollients (moisturisers) rather than soap to reduce Dermatitis symptoms. Emollients are a mixture of oils (creams), paraffin (ointments) and water. These hydrate and smooth the skin, helping to reduce soreness and prevent skin from become dry or cracked.
Swap to Hand Sanitisers
Check Your Glove Material
Check your glove material if you are getting flare ups, you may be having an allergic reaction to the material. We sell a variety of gloves including latex free versions.
When selecting a glove material (PVC, Nitrile, latex etc) you should consider the chemicals or allergens being used. The British association of Dermatologists (BAD) advise that gloves should be clean and dry inside and not broken. This is important as applying gloves to wet hands can increase the chance of skin irritation.
Wear a Barrier Cream
Wear a barrier cream when you are dealing with chemicals and gloves can’t be worn. This should stop irritants from making contact with your skin. After the process you can then cleanse your hands with an alcohol based hand sanitiser or foam sanitiser.
Moisturise Your Hands
Moisturise your Hands will help to reduce dryness, soreness and cracking. Non-scented products will be less likely to cause flare-ups. Some petroleum based moisturisers can cause Latex gloves to deteriorate, if you are working with these would be better to opt for a water based moisturiser.
Use pH Neutral Soaps
Some situations do require hand washing with soap and water rather than using a sanitiser. The gentlest soaps will be pH neutral. Aloe Vera is often used in moisturisers as it has great healing properties, however we suggest choosing a lanolin option as this is a better moisturiser.
Although Lanolin is a great moisturiser it can sometimes cause allergic reactions, particularly if its not a pure form. There are many Lanolin products on the market, you should opt for a pharmaceutical product containing medical grade Lanolin. These will contain the purest form of Lanolin and will be less likely to cause allergic reactions or aggravate Dermatitis.
Visit Your GP
Please note that this is a guide to help prevent and handle dermatitis, however it should not replace professional medical advise or HSE recommendations. If you are experiencing extremely sore hands or the symptoms do not improve please visit your GP. They can check for any skin conditions you may have and in some circumstances they may prescribe medication.