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livelaughlove21's avatar

Allergic reaction to hand soap or just dry skin?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15608points) January 23rd, 2014

I started a new job on January 2nd. About a week later, I was washing my face before bed and it felt as if I had a burn on the back of my hand, mostly along my thumb. The hot water felt even hotter as it ran over that skin. I then noticed that the skin was red there as well as the same spot on the other hand. I applied some lotion and it was gone in about a day. I didn’t notice it other than the sensitivity when I put hot water on it.

I noticed the redness again once after this, but yesterday it got pretty bad. It burned and itched and got redder and redder, spreading onto the backs of the rest of my fingers and even a little around my wrist. I applied lotion, which felt good at first, but made the area burn like crazy for about five minutes afterward. It eventually calmed down and stopped burning, but some of the redness stayed. Here is a picture of my hand yesterday at its worst.

Today it’s just got a little burn to it and the redness has decreased a lot, but is still there. I hear about “dry, cracked, burning hands” during the winter all the time, but I’ve never experienced it, so I thought that might be it. However, it doesn’t feel rough or scaly like dry skin – it feels completely normal to the touch. Then I started thinking about new products I may have come into contact with. I’m using new makeup products, but nothing that touches the back of my hand and my face isn’t broken out, so I doubt it’s that. The only other thing is the hand soap in the bathroom at work. I’ve never experienced any kind of reaction to soap on my hands (only on certain female parts, if you catch my drift), so I don’t know why it would happen now, or why it wouldn’t completely cover my hands.

I decided to go out last night and pick up some new hand soap to use (Silk Original Foaming Hand Soap) and hand lotion (Curel Ultra Healing Intensive Lotion). Whenever I go to the bathroom, I use that soap to wash my hands and I apply the lotion once I’m back at my desk. I hope this is enough to get rid of this, and I certainly don’t think it’s bad enough to see a doctor, but I wanted to see what you guys thought it looked/sounded like and if you’ve ever experienced it. Maybe you know of better products I can pick up to get rid of it. I was hoping to develop a tolerance to the soap at work, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

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13 Answers

Smitha's avatar

Yes it could be due to the hand soap. The skin on the palms are thick so they are more resistant to irritants, hence the redness or rashes appear behind the hands and between the fingers.They tend to get worse during the winter seasons because during this time people tend to use warm water which irritates the skin. Lotions containing olive oil or aloe may be particularly soothing. Wear gloves when going outside in cold weather or when you are washing dishes.Try using Cetaphil Cleanser.

dxs's avatar

I’m not a doctor, but I get the exact sensations you describe. My hand looked just like yours in the picture. It only happens in a cold climate when I use soap in a public restroom, not the moisturizing soaps. I thought it was from dryness and constantly wiping my hands with paper towels. Hot water BURNED and I’d constantly put Vaseline on my hands. Similar to having an irritated nose from always wiping it. My hand looked just like your hand in the picture. I don’t ever remember my hands itching, though, just burning. But I have had dry skin that is itchy.

ibstubro's avatar

I believe it to be dry skin.

It’s hard to beat Creamy Vaseline for dry skin. I know it sounds gross, but actually rubs in better/faster than most traditional hand lotions. I also have less trouble with it leaving residue on things. Added benefit: if you are having a reaction to something, the Creamy Vaseline has few additives.

You can buy it at The Dollar Tree for $1 a tube, but I would not recommend that for a first timer – theirs is not all created equal and some is tough to rub in.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ibstubro “I would not recommend that for a first timer”

A Vaseline newbie couldn’t handle it, eh? :)

ibstubro's avatar

It’s not the newbie, @livelaughlove21. It’s knowing the experience. I have bought creamy petroleum jelly at The Dollar Tree that I would not buy again, intentionally. It’s so much cheaper than Vaseline, however, that if I had to throw one away now and again, it would still be cost effective.

I highly, highly recommend it, and have gotten many people addicted.

“Zim’s Crack Cream” was my previous pick, BTW.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ibstubro I just looked up some reviews on your creamy vaseline and I think I’ll be picking some up this weekend, and not just for my hands. I’d love for it to replace my current $12 Aveeno face moisturizer – fragrance free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic at $5? Jackpot! My face is WAY dryer than my hands.

Thanks for the suggestion!

ibstubro's avatar

My socks have a tendency to dry and chafe my ankles, @livelaughlove21. Even cures that. I hope it works for you. I, personally consider it a minor miracle in a tube. :)

Adagio's avatar

My only suggestion would be to use your own soap, something you have used in the past without developing an allergy, and I second @Smitha suggestion that you use Aloe Vera, personally I would use a natural gel product, I’m sure there is something available in the US as there is here downunder. Best of luck.

LornaLove's avatar

I find something similar happens to me with a certain handwash. Oddly though, it only happened when I was suffering acute anxiety. It still makes no sense to me, except to say for me I do come out in allergic skin rashes when I am hyper anxious. I did look up skin conditions and anxiety and they do seem common. I think yours in an allergy, but I don’t know not being a dermatologist.

ibstubro's avatar

Another thing I would avoid is germicidal anything. Germs are bacteria, and bacteria are our friends, not enemies.

livelaughlove21's avatar

UPDATE: I’ve been using my own soap and haven’t had a problem since. I use the Curel hand lotion after using the bathroom (whenever I remember to once I get back to my desk), and it seems to have solved the problem. Also, @ibstubro, I went out and bought the creamy Vaseline and I’ve been using it on my face for the past few days. So far so good – it hasn’t broken me out yet, and I don’t have to apply multiple layers like I had to with my Aveeno. The only thing is that it tends to feel kind of sticky or filmy for awhile after I apply it – not a big deal under my makeup, but more of an issue at night. Oh well, it was $2.99, I can’t expect a miracle. It has made my face much smoother, though.

ibstubro's avatar

I love the stuff, @livelaughlove21. I worked in a food factory and we were required to wash our hands many times a day. In the winter, my hands would literally crack until they bled. A few doses of Creamy Vaseline a day put a stop to that. I use it all over at least twice a week during the winter. That’s why I buy the Dollar Tree version – I use a lot.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

A non-petroleum jelly hand cream may help. Petroleum jelly actually dries the skin out. First it feels better than like a baseball glove it ultimately cracks the leather – which is skin.

I use German made Nivea. Nivea is made in multiple places but the original non-petroleum product is only available in Germany. I use this site – they import only German man Nivea:

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