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Cuts, burns and dry hands?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I received so much help from this board before I started culinary school and thought I would come back with another question. I love school an am learning a lot from my chef instructors. I knew cuts and burns came with the territory, but what about really dry chapped hands? With the constant washing and prep work, they are getting pretty beat up. I have tried just about everything but nothing helps. Strange question, but how do you chefs either prevent this or to take care of it.
post #2 of 24
The best thing I've found is Aquaphor Healing Ointment (there's generic equivalents too). It is non-irritating, I think that's the problem with most hand creams. Put that on, say overnight with a pair of gloves on on top, preferably cotton, in the morning hands are so much better.

The other thing I do is protect my hands with what I wash them with. No more soaps with fake stuff and detergents at home. I just buy a gallon jug of that organic type dish soap which is a very pure, basic, unscented mild soap with no detergents, and put some essential oil in it, lavender for the "powderroom", citrus oils for the home kitchen, to have a little scent. Then that's what I use to wash my hands, dishes, etc. Makes a difference to not strip so many oils out of your hands and bombard them with strong detergents and chemicals. Perhaps you don't have that option and have to use whatever mandated sanitizing hand wash is there, the Aquaphor will help counteract it.

The Aquaphor I will warn you has a little bit of the texture of vaseline. (sometimes I use it by putting it on, letting it soak in, and washing excess off with mild soap, if it's say during the day and I need to do something. But overnight or when you don't really need your hands, it's a major cure). It's made for healing burns or scrapes, also great for chapped lips if you ever get them. It was recommended to me by a top dermatologist, I'm so glad he recommeded it, I never would have noticed it, and it's been great. According to the dermatologist, it should also help minimize scarring to an extent while a burn heals.
post #3 of 24
That sounds like a great product!! will check it out, thanks
As you said what you use to wash your hands makes a great deal of difference. I find Joy dish soap works fine for me, but some brands really rough up my hands. Ecolac has a blue antibacterial soap for the dispensers that is wonderful. My hands actually improve when that is available!! And, I am a hand washing fool.

When the damage is done, I find that good old Bag Balm (yes, it was made for cow's udders in the first place) works really well, like the product above, it is messy, but repairs really fast. Corn Huskers lotion is nice for maintaince and Aveda's Hand Repair is really great, but spendy.
And speaking of Aveda, the Foot Repair is amazing, really, you feel like you have new feet!

Nan
post #4 of 24
I really like the Neutrogena hand cream,but if you want a cheap way to fix your hands,here is what my mom told me years ago growing up in Chicago winters:
When you go to bed,coat your hands in Vasaline or olive oil [used by the Romans for skin and wound salves] and put socks on your hands [or cotton gloves].The next day,your hands are healed and ready for another day of dry air and sanitizer [that blue quat sanitizer really kills your skin!].

I've had to rub olive oil on my knuckles at work just to be more comfortable and I don't have to worry about any non-food moisturizers contaminating things,and olive oil is always in the kitchen.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #5 of 24
i have 28 cuts/burns in my hands right now. you're right, it does come with the territory. wear them like a general wears his medals, they are badges of honor, love em.
post #6 of 24

Meant to mention using olive oil through out the day--

Not sure we are talking about the same blue hand soap-let me know please, as I said when I have this on board my hands actually improve. Could someone be allergic to it? There is a bath/hand soap for dispensers ( Pure and Natural) that many crew members and clients have rashes, etc. from. Palmolvie and Ivory dish soap turn my hands so bad, so fast.

But as mentioned in the subject line, when I get a bit of olive oil on my hands a little lingers for a while.
When I was in Turkey I bought olive oil soap, pure, now wash my body and hair with it. Kiss My Face is an American name. Those people have the most beautiful skin and hair I have seen.
Sorry, I digressed--
I would never use non food things in the galley, but I will swear the Bag Balm works soooooo fast. I have a long day which includes a nap. I just put a little on the tender spots during my nap and a bit more at night. After this, if I remember to use the Aveda product for maintanence I am good. Neutrogena is also excellent.
Keep those Hands and Feet Healthy!!
Nan
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your helpful replies. I will try everything you all suggested and see what happens. Thanks again.
post #8 of 24
Aquaphor is great! It really helped the healing process when I chemically burned my hands by seeding two cases of fresh anaheim chilies (got blisters and everything, plus SUPER DRY red irritated skin all over.) Aquaphor was a life saver.

Here's one thing I do to pre-empt the dryness beforehand. I make a batch of homemade hand cleaning wipes.
First, cut a roll of Bounty paper towels in half so you have two short rolls-save one for the next batch. Place the remainder in a plastic container with a lid. Combine 1/4 cup unscented creamy baby oil or baby lotion with 2 teaspoons Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap and 2-3 drops Tea tree oil in a bowl. Slowly whisk in about 2 1/2 cups warm water. Pour solution over the paper towels and into the cardboard core. Cover and let soak in for about 10 minutes. Pull out the core and the first towel from the center of the roll. Use to wipe your hands clean. Cover and keep in a handy spot in the kitchen. Your hands will be cleaned and moisturized at the same time.

Works great for baby butt wipes too! I used these on my son during his diapering days and figured I saved about $1200 by not buying expensive premade ones. He never had diaper rash either-not once!

The tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial and the Dr. Bronner's is a natural olive oil soap that does not dry your skin-only a very little is needed.

These wipes also work great to generally refresh your face (and sweaty elsewheres;)) after cooking all day. Works great as a makeup remover too.

Bounty is the best brand to use as others tend to shred apart, but Viva is pretty good too.

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She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #9 of 24
When I feel like spending a little extra on something "special",I buy from a Japanese company called DHC [they ship from San Fran store];all products are olive-oil based and just amazing.I never thought I'd endorse some skincare line,but those products are just great!All natural and no added colors,fragrance or anything.

they have one product that is the top seller called Facial Cleansing Oil.It is literally cosmetic grade olive oil [with other oils] and is water soluble.You rub the oil on your face as if it were soap and it rinses away completely clean with just water.I got samples years ago and was thinking "Rub OIL on my FACE?",but the stuff is really incredible,summer or winter!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #10 of 24
I'm a big fan of Cornhusker's Lotion.
It's non-greasy.
Just rub it in until your hands are smooth and you're good to go.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #11 of 24
I suffered from dry hands when I first started, but as my "chef hands" began to develop, they became more durable to kitchen condition.

I did not use any cream or ointment, the change just happened gradually.
post #12 of 24
I think to a degree you can acclimate your hands to the kitchen climate, but what I've found to be the main culprit is the antibacterial soaps.
My hands can be just fine and then either the company will switch soaps, or I'll switch jobs and work with a new soap, and then my hands start cracking again.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #13 of 24
Fer sure China Jim. There was a study that showed that they do not reduce bacteria on the hands anyway compared with regular soaps. Soaps get rid of bacteria by washing it away, not by killing it, so the simple action of washing your hands with soap was shown to be on par with the ones with antibacterial agents. It was said to be a real marketing boost to make something "antibacterial."

And the irony is this, we use those antibacterial soaps because we think it makes us safer, but then our sewage sludge gets dumped out on farmers fields or the triclosan ends up in lakes, to create resistant bacteria. It is apparently quite a silly thing, when washing with plain soap was just as good.

Everyone has such great ideas, I've done olive oil (in fact it's in my travel bag with the toiletries), the bag balm, but I've never tried or heard of cornhuskers lotion, will have to check that out.
post #14 of 24
Bag balm was recommended to me once, and I tried it.
I have to say it worked, but I hate that vaseline type feel.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #15 of 24
Gloves were what always killed my hands, the soap wasn't so bad
post #16 of 24
Are you allergic to latex,RAS?
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the helpful replies. I am willing to try anything that is recommended. I know my hands will eventually get used to some abuse but mostly it's how uncomfortable they feel. Thanks again and I will continue to read what you experts have to say.
post #18 of 24
Not a clue... I am pretty sure I have handled other latex products at some point in my life, and have not noticed any reaction to it. As I mentioned before, my hands just stopped getting dry and chapped. I have slightest an idea why this happened.

I always washed my hands more then anyone, so I am still pretty positive it wasnt the soap.
post #19 of 24
Eucerin works well. No perfumes and it doesn't have the greasy feel like Aquaphor (though it works great). The whole socks on the hands thing work extremely well.
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post #20 of 24
LOL...I think you and I read the same book -- I did the same for my kids when they were babies.

As for dry hands...the winter dry air here in Maine and handwashing do a pretty good job of drying out my skin, too (even without the demands of being a chef for a living, lol)...I always keep hand lotion close by, but the best thing I've found for dealing with the chappedness is Mary Kay's hand therapy system....it's a three-step process with exfolient and a super-emollient hand cream that helps get the dead stuff off and moisturizes awesomely...If they get really bad, I do the sock thing, too, altho it feels ridiculous, lol.

Soap also makes a huge difference...Kiss My Face or the Burt's Bees products are nice and mild.

The best soap, and I haven't found it here in Maine was something I bought at Wegman's (maybe my favorite grocery on earth) -- it's pricey -- $16 for a 16 oz. glass bottle. It's called Cucina. They make a special Olive Oil Coriander blend especially for kitchen use. You can get it on Amazon or Drugstore.com...but it really made a big difference in my hands for the winter I had it, and it smells great) ...and make sure to pat dry, not rub dry -- irritates the skin more otherwise.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
So much help and I promise I will try them all. I bought Aquaphor and you're all right, it's pretty gooey. I will try everything and thanks again.
post #22 of 24
We have a three way dispenser in the kitchen. A gift from a pal who "borrowed"it from his building site store room. It has soap, sanitiser and protector and we're all used to it and it works. For burns we cant grin and bear, we have an Aloe vera plant. Just break off a stalk and rub the goo on the burn. Magic. For anything more serious theres stuff in the first aid box
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the additional help. I guess as long as I am in school I have to use whatever they provide. Once I am out on my own, I will change things drastically.
Thanks again.
post #24 of 24
hey guys,
I had a really bad problem with my hands. After about a year they started getting really itchy. Really, really itchy. I would go home after work and drink beers and scrape my fingers against the wooden closet door until they bled. This, of course made the problem worse(more itchy) and infected. Not to mention infected. I actually had to quit for about 3 months.
I remember going home to visit family and telling people that I was a chef/cook and then shaking hands with them. And then, in my mind, trying to explain why my hands were so soft and cushy(not having worked in 2.5 months)
I was taking heavey doses of methyl-prednisol steroids at this time

When I quit, my hands looked like a cross between hamburger helper and the cheese pizza that gets made at a community college.

I returned to wash dishes after the crazy dishwasher aunty cut her wrists on a broken glass(by accident, before you start), and then found myself right back in the thick of things in the kitchen. quicksmart.

I remember a Vietnam vet at the bar downstairs tell me how he couldn't believe that they let me work there with my hands like that(after 3 months, my hands erupted again after 1 week of work.)

I saw dermatologists, did research on allergies, and applied my learnings to my job.

I would show up to work early, wrap my fingers with clear duct tape(making SURE to leave the joints free), and then put on a vinyl glove.

Watch out for latex, lanolin, laundry soap, shellfish..&^%& ANY OIL FROM DEEP FRYING, all types of blood, wedding rings, soapsoapsoap.

The idea here is not to be wearing vaseline gloves at night...what about your lover???

Water is the best thing to put on your skin. But be very carefull about what touches you after your "Baptism". Unless of course you are like Kramer and you cook in the shower!

Auquaphor sounds excellent... which reminds me
Be carefull of your shower soap, new pets, your diet(strangely enough),

Your immune system is like a cup, and allergies are like the water, your life before cooking school was in stasis. now that your hands are subject to burns, especially burns, and bruises and cuts, your cup is filling up and overflowing. you can't stop cuts and burns, but you can cut out the junky soap and other stuff thats attacking you. Just doing this will drop the fluid level in the cup and help you exponentially.
If that makes any sense nod your head.
Main thing is DO NOT SCRATCH THE ITCH!
Hope this helps and thanks for listening
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