Dry, cracked, bleeding hands was something that I used to suffer with, particularly over the winter months.
Over-washing, not drying hands properly, washing with petrochemical-laiden handwash, trying to moisturise with petrochemical-laiden handcream, all contributed to the condition.
Once I started to train as a reflexologist, I knew something had to change. I had to solve this problem as my hands were going to be the tools of my trade!
The first thing to do is change your hand wash. Most hand washes available on the shelves on the highstreet will contain petro-chemicals: synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum. One main culprit is SLS or SLES (Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate). This man-made detergent will strip the skin of its natural oils and it leave it bare and unprotected, flakey and inflammed. You only have to do a quick google search to discover the known evils of this petro-chemical: a known irritant used in skin-testing trials; a penetration enhancer, a corrosive.
Next, ensure you moisturise. This doesn’t mean using a product contain petrolatum, paraffinum liquidum, parfum, propylene glycol or parabens. You will not be moisturising or nourishing your hands if the product contains any of these ingredients. Your skin might feel smooth and soft on the surface but these ingredients will not be nourishing your skin to help it heal. In fact they will be doing the complete opposite: blocking the skin’s pores and upsetting its natural equilibrium. In a nutshell, it will be making the problem worse. You might also experience a stinging sensation.
Switch to a brand that you can trust to give you a high quality product containing ethically sourced natural ingredients free from anything derived from petroleum: Neal’s Yard Remedies. My top recommendation would be the Bee Lovely Hand Wash. This is infused with moisturising organic honey and fragrant, uplifting organic orange and mandarin essential oils, to gently cleanse and subtly scent the grubbiest of hands. It is gentle enough for the whole hive, including children aged 3 years and over. It also comes in a large 295ml bottle made from recycled plastic which means it is safer for children to use (rather than glass).
There is also a hand cream to accompany the hand wash. If this doesn’t appeal, there are many other products that will look after your hands, nourishing, moisturising and protecting your skin, hands and nails with organic, natural ingredients.
If your hands are like those in the pictures above, you may need a product that is going to “kick-start” the healing process.
The baby barrier cream is an excellent healing and nourishing cream. Although it is marketed at baby’s bottoms(!) this cream is excellent for working hands such as gardeners or mechanics, and eczema or dermatitis sufferers, and skin thinned by aging and long-term steroid use.
Take care of your hands while outside. Always apply handcream and wear gloves in cold weather. Make sure you dry them thoroughly after washing, and always moisturise afterwards. While at home have a bottle of wash and lotion next to each other at the basin to encourage good habits.
Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.