Chafing:
when hands
have it tough!

Hands accomplish many daily tasks, and sometimes, even small miracles! We sometimes forget just how much our hands are called on every day. Therefore, it's so easy to lose sight of the importance of providing them with extra tender loving care, as a reward for services rendered!

The health of neglected hands is often compromised. The skin is often the first to be affected. A lack of hydration and frequent or prolonged exposure to various irritants contribute to excessive dryness. Over time, skin can become rough and other symptoms can appear such as:

  • redness
  • itching
  • fissures, also called chafing or cracks
  • bleeding
  • discomfort, and
  • pain

Chafed hands can predispose a person to infection. This is another excellent reason to resolve the problem quickly.

 

Prevention

Small lifestyle changes can help to prevent dry hands and the appearance of chafing, such as:

  • Wash hands with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser that does not contain irritating agents. Use warm, never hot, water.
  • Next, dry hands using a clean towel and by gently patting them dry, without rubbing them.
  • Moisturize skin regularly with an emollient, a product that softens skin while moisturizing it. Some products have anti-itching properties. Your pharmacist can provide information to help you to make the appropriate choice.
  • Apply a protective cream to your hands. This product forms a thin protective barrier, which protects hands from irritation. This type of product also deeply moisturizes the skin and provides relief from discomfort and itching.
  • Reduce tasks that require your hands to be in contact with water or other irritating agents, and wear gloves.
  • Avoid unnecessarily rubbing hands or fingers together.
  • Protect hands from the cold weather by wearing gloves.

Causes and risk factors

Chafing on the hands usually occurs when the skin is very dry. Thus, it becomes more fragile and can become damaged, leading to fissuring and cracks.

This problem can affect anyone. However, individuals exposed to the following elements are more likely to be affected by it:

  • the cold or extreme temperature variations
  • frequent handwashing or work that requires constantly putting your hands in water
  • irritating agents:
    • detergents (soap, shampoo, household products, etc.)
    • plants, earth, shrub roots, etc.
    • chemical products
    • etc.
  • skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis

Aging is another factor that weakens skin and predisposes it to chafing due to dryness.

Treatment

If you are unable to resolve the situation despite applying these measures, your pharmacist can provide you with additional advice. For example, he/she can recommend dressings to protect cracks, or an antibiotic cream (or ointment) to prevent or control infection. Because of the risk of a worsening condition or of complications, the pharmacist may encourage you to see a doctor.

Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for additional information about severe dry and chapped hands.

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Chafing: when hands have it tough!

Having chapped hands is often the plight of hard-working people. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be prevented or corrected.
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