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Home cooks + professionals -- anyone have problems with dry hands?

Hi, sorry if this is in the wrong forum, but as a home cook I have a huge issue with dry hands. Especially when my hands come in contact with salt or even water/liquids for a prolonged period of time, my hands start getting really itchy and really dry afterwards.

I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this, what sort of solutions they've found. Am i doomed to use gloves everytime I cook?


(again, sorry if this is the wrong forum)

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  1. I get very dry hands too, and I have two solutions that seem to help. One is that I have these things called "Spa Gloves" that have a silicone inside and you put cream on your hands and wear them for 10-15 minutes before bed. They were developed for hospital patients,but you can get them at places like Sephora. Another is using Aquafor and wearing cotton gloves to bed. Both these help heal your hands, but IMHO, there is no way to prevent dry hands.

    1. I do apologise if you feel I am implying you are stupid, I am just trying to be helpful - you do use gloves when you wash up right? And you keep them on when you are doing all the side scrubbing and other cleaning bits in the kitchen? I ask merely because for me it makes a huge difference keeping my hands away from the not-really-designed-to-be-slathered-on-the-skin chemicals in cleaning products and of course the immerision in water necessary for washing up.

      Otherwise, maybe you just have sensitive skin. Have you recently made any changes in the bath and shower or clothes washing products you use? Maybe you could look into putting some kind of cream on your hands at night to help moisturise them. Also, try applying a thin layer of (any cooking) oil to your hands before you start cooking. It'll stay as a barrier between your hands and the stuff you are preparing which may help.

      1. i work in a restaurant and yes, especially in winter, my hands can become horribly dry. i must wash my hands 1000 times a day, lol.

        something lots do now that i NEVER do, is use those hand sanitizers. yuck. they dispense alcohol which is terrible for your skin.

        i don't let my hands come in contact with overly harsh chemicals. gloves, of course, but also i try to use stuff like scrubbers and brillo pads, but with plain soap, like dr. bonner, instead of high-test stuff. i'll often boil water in especially dirty pans before i try washing them.

        i use coconut oil or vaseline on my hands at night and slip on cotton gloves (yes, just like minnie mouse, lol) for bed.

        also be sure to stay well-hydrated.

        is your skin just very dry, or do you think you have sensitivities to some of the cleaners you're using?

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          You can use cotton gloves or latex. The vaseline will be completely absorbed by morning. That was my remedy for the first few winters that I delivered mail in New England. Cold, wet hands all day made for painfully cracked cuticles.

          Later I discovered Ken Ag Udder Cream, which looks and smells like Crest toothpaste in a jar.
          It is sold at farm supply stores. People are familiar with Bag Balm but most don't realize that "bag" is colloquial for udder. The Ken Ag is better than Bag Balm because it is completely non-greasy. It contains wax - if your hands are cold or you use too much, the wax will look like rolls or dead skin as you rub it in, but just wait a minute and it will melt in. It works extremely well.
          Almost as good, and more readily available, is Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin Therapy Lotion, which pharmacies sell in tubes and pump bottles.

        2. I concur with wearing a moisturizer and gloves at night. The cheapest moisturizers are best. I use coco butter on my hands and feet.
          Contact dermatitis is also a consideration and may warrant medical care by a dermatologist.
          Best of luck!

          1. I used to work back of the house and washed my hands repeatedly. The absolute best product I ever found was Badger Balm. I had tried most of what has been mentioned and this stuff really, really works. Plus the tin makes it easy to have it handy in your pocket!


            1. Whoops -- let me clarify. My hands are extremely dry. So when I cook and my hands get wet, my hands start to get really itchy. Like, extremely itchy.

              Even by touching meat or washing veggies -- they get extremely itchy.

              Do I just wear gloves?

              Cleaning/washing dishes is not an issue because my gf handles that, I do the cooking. Any suggestions will help, thank you again :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: darrentran87

                It was your itching that had me mention dermatitis. You may need cortisone cream, OTC or prescription drugs. Might want to check in with a doctor to help get some relief.

                1. re: monavano

                  I have extremely dry skin too and, I am playing doctor here, I agree that the itching is worth seeing a doctor about. As bad a my skin has gotten, and it feels like sandpaper during the winter, itching from simply washing a veggie has never happened.

              2. Before resorting to prescription remedies, I suggest you try Hydrocerin moisturizing cream from Geritrex Corp. This is an OTC product which is used in hospitals.

                You also want to minimize exposure, of course.

                3 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  I think you want to get a diagnosis first: A diagnosis from a qualified physician does not preclude OTC medication.
                  This is the OP's body reacting with a release of histamine, an allergic reaction, if I can make an assumption myself.
                  As a healthcare professional, I know what it's like to wash my hands to distraction!
                  Good luck.

                  1. re: monavano

                    I certainly have no objection to anyone consulting a physician when necessary. I happen to have dry hands myself, and have used prescription cortisone from time to time as well as OTC stuff.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      Me too. What got me was contact dermatitis under my wedding rings.

                2. I had the same problem. My dermatologist recommended Moisturel Cream (not lotion), applied after every time my hands get wet. It worked, and eventually the skin on my hands got healthy enough that I only need to apply it in the morning and before going to bed. Moisturel Cream can be hard to find. Look for it in real drug stores, not the big chains. I also get it online from drugstore.com It's not cheap, but it's the best I've found, and I've tried them all. Good luck to you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. I agree with the rec to see a physician, but in the meantime, try Crisco. It's just vegetable fat, is food safe (obviously), won't scent your hands with something you don't want on your food, and is an excellent moisturizer.

                    1. No hand sanitizers. Gentle dish soap - I like Seventh Generation. Take an Omega-3 supplement every day. This last thing takes a while to work.

                      1. I use thick shea butter cream and it tends to repel water for awhile. I keep a jar of it on the counter and in my bag and in my car and wherever I tend to be for long cooking periods.

                        SHEA BUTTER. Buy some.

                        1. I work in a restaurant and I love to cook at home so I am constantly washing my hands.

                          I find Burt's Bees Hand Repair Creme to be invaluable. I also keep Ahava Dermud Intensive Hand Cream in my purse. It's not quite as intense at the Burt's Bees, so it's better to use when I am out and about and need a little moisture.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mtoo

                            ...and BB hand repair creme is shea butter based!

                          2. olive oil. Every time I use it, I rub it into my hands and wrists. I never use gloves (but the husband does all the dishes).

                            1. I have a problem with dry hands in the winter, especially since I'm an IT guy and wash my hands constantly throughout the day after I've touched somebody else's keyboard and mouse. Making bread and kneading by hand seem to make it worse, probably because flour-intensive cooking sucks the moisture right out.

                              I use a number of lotions and such. If it's really bad, I use good ol' Bag Balm.

                              1. Something that has changed my life is Gloves in a Bottle (website of the same name). You buy it in art supply stores, and it creates some kind of "shield" that prevents moisture from being lost in the first place. My hands used to get so dry that my knuckles would crack and bleed every day from November to March, but I haven't had a single crack since I discovered this lotion two years ago. I apply a little bit most mornings, and sometimes a little bit before bed, and that seems to be all I need. The smallest bottle size lasts me an entire winter.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I swear by Bag Balm with cotton gloves overnight. It is like vasaline with a kick; petroleum jelly, lanolin and an antiseptic. Drugstores around here sell it, some feed supplies type places, or you can get it online. It does have a medicinal smell, but I don't mind it.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: MIss G

                                      I agree on the Bag Balm. I also find it at pet supply stores, when I can't get out of the city to go the feed store. BB has made my eczema much more manageable.

                                  1. Yes, I suffer dry hands too. In a pro kitchen and at home, no lotions or creams are allowable, but olive oil is a marvelous remedy.

                                    1. Professional, now retired, so home cook ................. dry hands used to be a constant. I am very sensitive to detergent of any kind so must be extra careful. Using a brush, instead of plunging my hands into the water every time something needed to be washed, has helped greatly. I scour the sink with BKF and a brush, not a sponge, to keep the water/abrashives away. Yes, I tried using gloves and failed miserably. Keeping my hands physically removed from water/detergents as much as possible has been the best option.

                                      When I enter the kitchen, one of the first things I do is pour a couple of drops of olive oil into my palms and coat my hands completely. I would rather have olive oil than hand cream in my food.

                                      Many years ago, Jergens had a hand-care product with hexachloraphene which worked very well but it is off the OTC market and no longer available. Dermatologists have prescribed many different Rxs but none has worked any better for me than the olive oil.

                                      1. I've been using Trader Joe's coconut oil on my hands ever since I bought a jar last week. I smell like a pina colada and I love it.

                                        1. Great thread! I have the same problem and am enjoying all of the responses!