Saturday, January 20, 2007

Winter Hand Care (SBQ from 10/11/06)

Although I do have a few small stitching happy dances in for this year already, they are gifts I can't share with you just yet. <--- The current SBQ asks us to share any current happy dances for this year, but since I have to wait ... while it's still winter and might be helpful to someone, I'll answer an SBQ from last October regarding winter hand care (which was suggested by Lee, whose blog is Lake Stitcher).

As we all know, stitching in the winter can really be rough on the hands. What do you do to treat your hands well in the cold winter months? Do you have any suggestions for creams or soaps? Or perhaps a special regimen that you would like to share?

I've found that as I age, and probably due in part to effects of various health conditions and work environments, my skin has really changed over the past ten to fifteen years. Back in my mid-twenties, I swore by Gardener's Hand Repair, which is manufactured by Earth Therapeutics. I even used this as part of a regimen which eventually cured a very painful, extremely itchy, and exceedingly gross bout of psoriasis I endured for about nine months on the bottoms of my feet.

By my early thirties, though, the Gardener's Hand Repair just wasn't doing it for me anymore. By this time, I was working outdoors year-round for the United States Postal Service as both a substitute rural mail carrier and a city casual (which is basically a substitute city carrier). I usually managed to avoid sunburn, but wind burn was another story, especially during the colder months of the year. Additionally, fingerless gloves were a necessity for handling the mail, which meant my fingers were exposed to the absolute worst of the bitter winters. To top it all off, unless you spend your entire workday doing nothing else other than literally shuffling paper products like I was in this environment, you probably have no idea just how drying paper can be to one's skin. I tried everything I could find on the market at the time in an attempt to save my hands, but with very little luck. My hands didn't fully recover until I'd been away from that job for about a year.

Over the last year and a half or so, I've developed an entirely different skin care regimen which is working very well for me. For all my facial care needs, I use Bioelements products. For all over body care, I'll only use pure olive oil soap now (Olivia is one brand I like); this alone improved my dry hands and cuticles immensely. I also exfoliate my hands and cuticles once or twice a week as needed using OPI Skin Renewal Scrub. For hand lotion, I use A-Mantle (previously called Acid Mantle) by Doak Dermatologics. I also use A-Mantle immediately after shaving (legs and armpits) because it helps prevent itching. (And when I decided to use hair conditioner to replace the shaving cream I ran out of recently, I found my skin was even more soft and less itchy after shaving.)


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