Harsh soaps/cleaners make dry hands worse

Dec. 29, 2012 at 5:45 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Dry hands start to get itchy this time of year and harsh soaps and cleaners can make them worse, a U.S. expert says.

Dr. Michelle Tarbox, assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University, said at a time of year when many spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, hand soaps can have a harsh impact on skin. Cleansers can lead to hand eczema, a long-term skin disorder, dermatitis and dryness.

Tarbox suggested investing in a skin-friendly cleanser that will reduce the dryness on your hands.

"Some cleaners are more gentle and moisturizing than the others," Tarbox said in a statement. "You can look for some beneficial ingredients like essential oils, jojoba oil and shea butter oil."

Even if hands and skin are not itchy, now is the time to start using moisturizer to replenish lost moisture.

Tarbox suggested using products that contain ceramides, which are lipid -- fat -- molecules containing fatty acids. While fats are generally considered unhealthy, ceramides protect your skin from the outside world.

Harsh cleansers may strip ceramides and other natural oils from the skin, leading to cracks and cuts in your skin barrier and increasing the risk for dehydration.

"The less water a moisturizer has, the longer it will last," Tarbox said. "A lotion is going to be the least long lasting as it has more water than a cream. When in doubt, thicker is often better while choosing a skin moisturizer."

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