February 03, 2022 3 min read
The dry, itchy skin condition that goes right down to your fingertips
Dermatitis comes in many forms and has many causes, but it is not contagious. Three common types of this condition are atopic dermatitis (eczema), seborrheic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. Hand dermatitis is a common skin irritation that manifests in dry, itchy skin and rashes. The skin can also ooze, blister or flake off. In extreme cases, there can be pain and swelling of the fingers.
Hand dermatitis accounts for up to a third of all forms of dermatitis. It is prevalent among people with a history of eczema and, while it can affect all ages, is particularly common among young adult females. In cases of chronic hand dermatitis, the palm can become very painful and swollen fingers can make minor tasks like doing up buttons or holding a pen difficult.
Skin contains specialised cells that destroy invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and in people with dermatitis the immune system overreacts. While the skin on the palms of the hands is much thicker than elsewhere on the body and can withstand normal wear and tear, frequently immersing your hands in detergents or solvents can break down the skin’s protective barrier.
Soap, detergents and water can all trigger a flare-up
Hand dermatitis is common in industries involving wet work or exposure to chemicals, such as cleaning, catering, metalwork, hairdressing, healthcare, housework, painting and mechanical work. This is mainly due to contact with irritants such as dust, detergents, cleaning agents and airborne sprays. Contact dermatitis is most commonly caused by irritants such as soap, detergents, solvents or regular contact with water.
If you can avoid the allergens or irritants that are causing your skin to react, the dermatitis will eventually clear up. It helps to wear gloves and a barrier cream. You can also use an emollient (moisturiser) to keep symptoms at bay and, in severe cases, your GP can prescribe steroids and/or phototherapy. However, the best way of combatting hand dermatitis is to take steps to ensure you avoid developing it in the first place.
Frequent handwashing in clinical settings, or to avoid the transmission of the Covid infection in our homes and workplaces, greatly increases the chances of developing hand dermatitis. This is because prolonged exposure to water and chemical or physical agents can disrupt the epidermis, activate the immune system, create inflammation and increase delayed hypersensitivity reactions.
The elements of hand hygiene, including friction, rubbing, water, towel drying, surfactants, and disinfectants, have considerable effects on the epidermal barrier. Water alone can remove the free amino acids responsible for maintaining skin hydration, while the skin PH increases immediately after water contact, affecting the function of vital skin enzymes.
Practise safe, gentle, hand hygiene with Ovelle Essentials
However, good management can counteract these outcomes and you should not be deterred from practising good hand hygiene. If you come into contact with something that irritates your hands, rinse with warm water and use an emollient as soon as possible. Gloves can protect your hands - but take them off every now and again to alleviate sweating. Check the ingredients of what you are putting on your hands to ensure they do not contain any irritants. Keep your skin hydrated by using a non-soap cleanser followed by a generous application of emollients.
Ovelle Hand Hygiene Essentials from Gardiner Family Apothecary is a kit that contains the purest, gentlest, most natural ingredients to promote good hand hygiene and handcare. The super value, individual full-size products – a handwash, sanitiser gel and handcream - are designed to be used together for best results. PETA certified cruelty-free and vegan, they are suitable for frequent use on eczema/dermatitis prone skin.
Ovelle Hygienic Hand Wash is a sensitive hand wash with enhanced antibacterial protection to gently cleanse skin, while moisturising coconut botanicals and vitamin E leave hands feeling soft and refreshed without stripping natural oils.
Ovelle Advanced Hand Sanitiser Gel is a non-sticky, disinfectant hand rub containing 70% alcohol which is clinically proven effective for control of viruses and bacteria. The gel contains moisturising glycerine and gentle aloe vera to help soothe and repair hands. It kills 99.99 % of all bacteria and is suitable for frequent use, even on sensitive skin.
Ovelle Hydrating Hand Cream contains a blend of coconut botanicals and emollient moisturisers to hydrate and soften all skin types, especially dry skin. Formulated without fragrances or colours, it gently soothes the hands while repairing your skin’s natural barrier.
Ovelle and Elave Skincare ranges of dermatologically-approved free-from natural products is available at gardinerfamilyapothecary.com, Boots, Dunnes Beauty, Tesco and community pharmacies.
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