Hand care tips for sailors with dry , scaly , sore, or itchy hands
Constantly moisturise your hands at least five times a day with a “safe” greasy moisturiser such as Emulsifying ointment or Epiderm ointment . If these are too greasy try a lighter moisturiser such as Aveno Dermexa cream or Neutrogena Hand Cream unscented. Avoid any other cosmetic moisturisers on sensitive hands.
Keep your hands dry and warm at all times by the careful use of gloves. Before sailing moisturise your hands with your recommended moisturiser and put on a pair of light cotton gloves (e.g. Seton Gloves - available form pharmacies ) followed by a pair of domestic rubber or surgical gloves. Cover all this with a pair of warm sailing glove.
Avoid direct hand contact with soaps, shampoos, washing up liquids and detergents.
Avoid hand washing as much as possible . If you have to wash your hands (e.g. after going to the toilet) never use soap. Use a recommended soap substitute such as Elave Wash or Aveno Wash with lukewarm water. Then dry your hands carefully and moisturise immediately with your recommended moisturiser. These soap substitutes can also be used in the bath or shower by placing a small amount on a sponge to clear the skin.
Never put your bear hands in soapy water - wear gloves if doing the dishes or washing sailing gear .
Use a detergent free shampoo such as “Elave shampoo” or else wear surgical gloves when washing your hair.
Rings should only be work for special occasions, never during sailing. Avoid cheap jewellery (18 carat gold, solid silver or stainless steel are safe).
Buy plenty of gloves, hand moisturisers , soap substitutes and shampoo substitutes and place them in strategic places around the home and in your kit bag so that you don’t have to go looking for them every time you need them.
It may take many weeks for your hands to recover. Even after recovery you will still have to take great care of your hands to prevent relapse.
Pain, oozing, crusting or a sudden deterioration of your hand eczema/dermatitis may indicate that your skin has become infected. Check with your doctor , as you may need antibiotic tablets.
Dr David Buckley MRCGP, DP Dermatology
Ref: Dermatology Papers – Sailors Hand care tips