Dermatitis generally only involves the superficial parts of the skin. However, the healing process can take a very long time. After an initial episode, the resistance of the skin to other damage or infection is lowered for at least 4 or 5 months after the dermatitis appears to be completely healed. Contact with chemicals should be avoided.
The following steps should help to improve and speed up healing:
1. Avoid soap: wash your hands with lukewarm water and simple soap or emulsifying ointments. If soap is used, use as little as possible and always make sure it is thoroughly rinsed off.
2. Dry thoroughly
3. Moisturise every time after washing hands, and as often as possible throughout the day. This will help stop the cracks opening further. Any perfume-free moisturiser will help, but ointments may be more effective than creams and lotions.
4. Avoid detergents or cleaning fluids, such as washing powder. Never touch them directly and donīt use too much in your wash as it can leave residues on clothes. Also avoid touching shampoo - put plastic gloves (see below).
5. Avoid irritant chemicals, eg cleaning agents, polish, solvents, stain removers, petrol, white spirit, hair dye, glue, paint etc.
6. Avoid natural irritants e.g. citrus oils
7. Protection using rubber gloves is not advised as rubber itself can cause dermatitis. Use plastic ones instead but not for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Donīt let them get wet inside, and use cotton gloves inside the plastic ones if you can.
If things do not improve see your doctor.