Because healthcare workers must wash their hands frequently they sometimes get dry, cracked or red skin that can also be painful.

Some Causes of Hand Dermatitis:

  • Frequent, prolonged contact with water
  • Harsh soaps
  • Low humidity
  • Cold weather
  • History of childhood eczema

What can you do to decrease the risk of this condition?

  • Use lukewarm water to wash your hands - never hot
  • Use the least harsh soap available
    • Good brands are Basis and Dove for sensitive skin
    • Avoid soaps with fragrances or botanical oils
  • Limit time in the shower or tub to the minimum necessary
  • At work, use alcohol foam when hands are not visibly soiled – it is less drying than soap and water
  • Use a bland moisturizer frequently
  • Use non-latex gloves
  • Do not wear gloves longer than necessary - frequent glove changes allow your skin to breathe
  • If you wear gloves to handle chemicals or do wet work, use loose fitting rubber or vinyl gloves, with cotton liners if possible

Self-care tips to protect and treat your hands if they become irritated:

  1. At bedtime moisten hands with a washcloth.
  2. While skin is still moist, liberally apply a bland emollient (such as Aquaphor)
  3. Wear thin cotton gloves as needed to keep sheets clean
  4. Leave emollient cream on over-night
  5. Reapply emollient after washing or bathing
  6. Seek medical care if your symptoms do not improve

Keywords: dermatitis, skin