I’ve always struggled with the skin on my hands and can’t remember having soft skin, although I think I must have done at some point. Over the years I’ve come up with my own way of giving them a bit of TLC to help them heal.
Healing hand eczema flares
When my hands get bad I treat them to a kind of pampering session, an intensive treatment to try to give them a helping hand. I don’t do this all the time but when the skin flares up, splits and cracks, this technique can really help. I do this just before I go to bed as bandaging can make it hard to do much!
- Firstly wash hands in an epsom salt bath – You can either do this in a bowl or I have a proper bath and soak the whole body at the same time. I am a sucker for a bath. The longer you can soak your hands the better, ideally 20-30 minutes. I buy good quality plain Epsom salts in a large tub because I get through quite a lot. Epsom Salts Medical Grade, 10 kg But there are loads of alternatives. Magnesium, dead sea salts and Himalyan pink salt. You could combine all types or experiment.
- Apply aloe vera and tea tree liberally all over hands – This can sting at first but that sensation wears off pretty quickly. Then I wait for that to dry into a sort protective layer. You could use witch hazel, manuka honey or other healing natural ingredients. (3 PACK) – Aloe Pura – Aloe Vera Gel + Tea Tree | 200ml | 3 PACK BUNDLE
- Moisturise – Then I apply emollient liberally. I’ve been using Balmonds ‘Lavender baby balm’ on my hands, in quite thick layers. You could use any emollient of your choice, I’ve used Epaderm too.
- Wrap hands in bandages – You could use cotton gloves. It’s time consuming and messy sometimes but I am able to keep my hands on a healing trajectory. Using bandages like this is costly as they are only good for one use but they do stay on better than gloves which are easy to remove in the night. You can find them cheaply in local Savers and Pound shops. If you are doing moisture withdrawal I’m not sure if wrapping would help, other than stopping you scratching. It can help to use some vinyl plastic gloves first and then cotton gloves over the top to really seal in moisture but it does feel a bit weird.
- Tubular bandages – these can help too if you get tight enough ones, cut a thumb hole and that can help to cover your hand from knuckles to wrist.
- Keep fingernails short – I have nail files everywhere, and I file my nails all the time. Keep the short and keep them smooth edged, the latter probably being more important. A sharp bit of nail can do incredible damage. Some people swear by acrylic nails as these do less damage too but I can’t afford to maintain that.
- Moisturise often – I try to moisturise my hands after washing them and if they feel dry and tight. Have pots of suitable emollient of balm available in all rooms of your house to encourage you to remember. I often think about moisturising and then forget, only to realise I’m scratching later in the day… dry skin can signal itchy skin.
It’s all about the gloves…
- Washing up – Wear gloves to wash the dishes, preferably not latex/rubber gloves as these can be allergenic. I use vinyl washing up gloves. Deluxe washing up gloves with latex free cotton lining Vinyl cleaning gloves 2 Pairs
- Food preparation – Wear gloves for chopping vegetables as the juice from these can really irritate your skin if you have open splits and cuts, and even if you don’t. I often find I have an itching frenzy after meal prep. This may seem wasteful but does allow your hands to heal when they are particularly bad. Good Quality Box of 100 Powder – Free Clear Vinyl Gloves Small Size – Easy to Wear ==> Perfect for Daily use Multi-Purpose Gloves Food Safe – (Vinyl Clear Gloves, Small Size) I find I can wash them and reuse, up to a point.
- DIY and gardening – Protect your delicate hands. Often there is a fine balance going on. I use cotton gloves inside gardening gloves for both these tasks. You could use your vinyl washing up gloves too but I find they can become split and damaged so have a spare pair for this kind of job so you don’t end up with leaking washing up gloves. I’d advise also getting a size larger than you need so you can fit a pair of cotton ones on inside. It helps with rubbing and sweating and seems to prevent flare ups better than just wearing the vinyl or gardening gloves on their own.
- Protection – Wear cotton gloves at night and in the day if you want to protect your hands. I buy mine from Allergy Best Buys. This can help in many ways, not least to encourage you to pause before scratching your hands, but it will also prevent you from scratching other parts of your body, if you can keep them on!
- Geluscious gloves – I’ve been testing these lovely mineral gel gloves to help heal my hands. Check out the blog here to find out how I got on. https://whatallergy.com/2020/06/can-gel-gloves-help-heal-hand-eczema/ Check out their website at https://www.silipos.com
I’d love to hear how you keep your eczema hands soothed and what you do to heal flares. They are definitely my trouble area, along with my face, but they are healing, slowly!