It’s a common complaint – itchy, dry, or cracked hands after washing dishes. Even those with less sensitive skin are experiencing this issue, especially with the added stress of a pandemic. But have you ever wondered why your skin feels so dry and irritated after washing dishes? In this article, we’ll explore the causes of dry hands and provide remedies to soothe and prevent this uncomfortable sensation from recurring.
Table of Contents
Causes of Dry Hands
Hand Washing & Hand Sanitizer
We all know that frequent handwashing is vital for preventing the spread of viruses. However, this necessary practice can leave your sensitive skin feeling irritated. Liquid soaps and hand sanitizers, especially those high in alcohol, can strip away the natural oils from your hands, making them dry and rough. The chemical detergents found in liquid soaps can also aggravate the skin, leading to inflammation and cracking. Unfortunately, this can create a vicious cycle, as cracked skin becomes more vulnerable to further irritation and sensitization to the ingredients in hand washes and hand creams.
Washing the Dishes
Believe it or not, washing dishes can have the same effect on your hands. The detergents in washing-up liquid create foam to efficiently clean your dishes but are not kind to your delicate skin barrier. Additionally, the hot water used in dishwashing further strips away the essential natural oils from your skin, leaving it feeling dry and dehydrated.
While keeping your home clean is essential for warding off germs, using harsh detergents and chemicals without wearing gloves can have a detrimental effect on your hands. Scrubbing with these products is meant to remove dirt and grime, but it can also damage the upper layers of your skin and disrupt your protective skin barrier.
As with any skin issue, environmental factors play a role. Dry skin is more common during colder months when humidity is low, weather conditions are harsh, and central heating is cranked up. We often overlook the care we give to the skin on our faces and neglect our hands, leaving them exposed to the elements. This extreme dryness can lead to fissures and cracking, which are slow to heal on constantly moving, dried-out skin. If you experience dry, cracked hands mainly during winter, you’re not alone!
Dry Skin Conditions
Dry, flaky, and cracked hands can also be a sign of an underlying skin condition. It could be eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, or even an allergic reaction. If you suspect a skin condition, it’s essential to consult with your GP or dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
How to Prevent and Soothe Dry Cracked Hands
Treating extremely dry and cracked hands may require multiple approaches. Here are a few lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of irritation and help restore your hands’ health:
1. Avoid Liquid Soaps (and Washing-Up Liquid)
Most liquid soaps contain chemical detergents that are drying and known skin irritants. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), a common ingredient in shampoos and hand washes, is one of the worst offenders. Opt for washing-up liquid without SLS, fragrances, dyes, or acids as the kinder option for dry and sensitive hands. Read the product ingredients carefully, and consider shopping at health food stores for SLS-free or vegetable oil-based soaps that are gentle on the skin.
2. Avoid Latex Gloves
Many people use washing-up gloves to protect their hands from chemicals or irritants while washing dishes. However, most washing-up gloves are made from latex, which can cause additional irritation, especially for those with latex allergies. Consider using vinyl washing-up gloves as a latex-free alternative that is easier to tolerate. If you suspect a latex allergy, take note if you experience reactions when consuming foods like avocados, bananas, or kiwis. Latex allergies can manifest in unexpected ways!
3. Avoid Petroleum-Based Products
Petroleum-based moisturizers and emollients are often the first go-to for treating damaged hands. While these products form a protective barrier to prevent water loss, they can suffocate the skin and worsen dryness and sensitivity in the long term. Once you’ve removed the triggers, focus on healing and regenerating your skin.
4. Increase Essential Fatty Acids Intake
Essential Fatty Acids, such as Omega 3, 6, and 9, nourish the skin from the inside out. Incorporate oily fish, seeds, and nuts into your diet as good sources of these fatty acids. Alternatively, you can opt for oil supplements like hemp or flaxseed oil. Take the supplements in pure oil form off a spoon and store them in the fridge to maintain their quality.
5. Moisturize and Massage
Choose a certified organic hand cream that doesn’t contain chemical irritants to moisturize extremely dry hands. Our Heavy Mettle organic hand cream is intensely hydrating, with naturally-active ingredients that soothe the skin and promote cell renewal. Omega-rich Sea Buckthorn nourishes rough skin, and its non-greasy formula quickly absorbs into your hands. For an extra intensive treatment, add a couple of drops of natural plant oils, like our bestselling Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil, to your hand cream or directly onto your hands. This oil is packed with Omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9 to nourish the skin and accelerate the natural healing and regeneration process. Apply your hand products generously at night and wear cotton gloves to allow the cream and oils to fully absorb into your hands while you sleep.
Visit 5 WS to explore our range of hand and body products for dry skin or book a free skin consultation to receive personalized advice.
So, don’t let your hands suffer during your dishwashing routine. With the right care and precautions, you can keep your hands feeling soft, smooth, and itch-free.