Ask Megan Sheppard: Constant hand washing is damaging my hands

Ask Megan Sheppard: Constant hand washing is damaging my hands

With the constant washing, the skin on my hands has become dry and brittle. More recently, the cuticles around some of my nails have become inflamed. What would you suggest?

This is very difficult to avoid in our present situation. Contact dermatitis and other similar skin conditions are a common occupational hazard where jobs require excessive washing, often with harsh chemical products.

Now, this is an issue most of us are facing. Damage to skin and nails is a typical response to overuse of products such as dish detergent, handwash or soap, sanitiser, shampoo, or other conventional household and personal cleaning products, but can also occur simply as a result of placing your hands under running tap water multiple times daily.

Normally my advice would be to keep the use of detergents, solvents and even running tap water to an absolute minimum to allow the skin to heal, however, this is not practical right now.

You can treat your hands of an evening by using a simple and gentle solution such as calendula cream or balm on your hands and nails. Follow this by wearing cotton gloves to bed so the calendula can soothe and prevent cracking or infection.

If you do not have a calendula preparation to hand (many natural nappy rash creams are calendula based) then there is the option of making your own solution using pot marigolds, Calendula officinalis.

To make a herbal infusion, simply use 1-2 tablespoons of fresh or dried calendula petals per cup of near-boiling water, and infuse for eight to 10 minutes, then soak your hands in the solution for 15-20 minutes.

You can also use pure olive oil to nourish and treat your hands.

Make sure any soaps, detergents, and cleaning agents you use are natural in origin — these are every bit as effective as the products containing synthetic fragrances and colour but without that added irritants.

You can help support your skin through your diet, by making sure that you get plenty of essential fatty acids (EFAs). This is an important nutritional tool in dealing with any skin issue where dryness, peeling, inflammation, and cracking are present.

Foods high in EFAs include nuts, seeds, oily fish, hemp seed products, or you can get EFA supplements.

It is also worth noting that stress is a common exacerbating factor when it comes to skin conditions, including flare-ups of dermatitis and eczema. So, while the root cause of your condition is obvious, remember stress contributes further to flare-ups and inflammation.

I have tinnitus and usually manage to ignore it. But now I’m on the phone for most of the day dealing with customer queries, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to hear what’s being said. Is there a remedy I could take?

Tinnitus is a difficult condition to deal with. The sensation of a sound in the ear or head for which there is no external source can be distressing.

While it often occurs as a result of working with or around loud machinery, musical instruments, or other equipment, it can also appear as a side effect of certain illnesses.Vitamin B12 is the most effective natural remedy that I have come across for tinnitus.

You will need to take a therapeutic dosage of 2000mcg daily to reduce or even eliminate the ringing or buzzing sensation.

B12 is crucial for the production and maintenance of the myelin sheaths which protect the nerve cells of the inner ear. Research has shown that most tinnitus sufferers are deficient in vitamin B12.

This nutrient can be found in dairy products, meat, and eggs, but it makes more sense to choose a supplement of 1,000mcg strength and take two daily for an accurate therapeutic dose.

When the current travel restrictions are lifted it might be worth asking for an appointment with a specialist to rule out any underlying disorders such as chronic ear infection, acoustic neuroma or Ménière’s disease — all of which require appropriate treatment.

More on this topic

263 life-threatening emergency calls had response time of at least one hour263 life-threatening emergency calls had response time of at least one hour

The Shape I'm In: Dr. Doireann O'LearyThe Shape I'm In: Dr. Doireann O'Leary

Natural Health: Is there a  natural alternative for those suffering from hay fever ?Natural Health: Is there a natural alternative for those suffering from hay fever ?

Health Minister wants to re-introduce cancer screening as soon as possibleHealth Minister wants to re-introduce cancer screening as soon as possible


More in this Section

The Skin Nerd: Products with star power, without the Hollywood price tagThe Skin Nerd: Products with star power, without the Hollywood price tag

10 tips for greater productivity working from home10 tips for greater productivity working from home

Easy does it: Relaxing home rules the 'perfect tonic for kids'Easy does it: Relaxing home rules the 'perfect tonic for kids'

Get the Look: The eco-friendly beauty products you need to buy nowGet the Look: The eco-friendly beauty products you need to buy now


Latest Showbiz

The digital festival will be hosted on YouTube.Global online film festival to bring together 21 international events

After major heart surgery last year, comedian and writer Robert Webb talks to Hannah Stephenson about looking after himself and family coming first.Robert Webb: ‘We fight like any other couple, but using stupid voices’

The Harry Potter author said she penned The Ickabog 10 years ago.JK Rowling announces new fairy tale for children will be published free online

A jury will choose 10 artists who will receive the funding.Turner Prize replaced by bursaries to help artists through Covid-19

More From The Irish Examiner