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Help! Miss Clay.. Hands Developing Scales, Allergy Eczema ?

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#1 triagain2002@yahoo.com



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Posted 06 May 2014 - 04:32 PM

Hi all,


I just came out of my biggest project however my hands are a mess to the point where I cannot touch clay now for 2 weeks at least. 


I have parts that are very itchy, scaly painful and cracking.. is this eczema? I did have psoriasis when I was a kid but it has been gone since then. I have been using otc cortizone, eczema creams along with aquafor.. but it is persistent.


I had gotten some amount of irritation in same areas before but overnight application of aquaphor or neosporin with a band aid took care of it usually.


How can I get rid of these and apparently I need to be proactive in the future.


Thanks in advance! 



#2 mregecko



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Posted 06 May 2014 - 04:37 PM

I hate to state the obvious, but I don't think many people on here are medical doctors. Your best bet would be to see a dermatologist or your family physician.


It could be something as simple as irritated skin from grog / clay / constant moisture / etc... but it could also be an allergic reaction, or if your clay or glazes have specific materials that you're sensitive to. Who knows?


I, personally, would see my doctor.

#3 Bob Coyle

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 06:25 PM

Yeah... Western medicine is cool.  Statistically much better than any other form of intervention... especially home remedy guessing. see a dermatologist.

#4 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 07:20 PM

I am not a doctor (so do not substitute my ideas for professional advice, naturally, it shouldn't need to be spoken) - but I know a lot about skin care.  If this is not an allergy use a very rich/high emollient hand cream at night and keep synthetic fiber socks or gloves on your hands overnight to lock in moisture penetration. (there are special slippers/footy socks for wearing overnight with lotion on to help the lotion treat the skin better, this is what I am talking about)  I recommend something as thick as a body butter, shea butter is an important ingredient for this.  Another thing is that skin that is prone to dryness can be improved by taking zinc. You won't see a change right away, (obviously your skin takes weeks to have vitamin absorption to show a visible change)  People who have eczema/roesaca  tend to see improvement with taking zinc.  And of course lots of water helps with cell turnover rates.  So be sure you are drinking more.  


(when I was a sales trainer, It was for a cosmetics/skin care company) 

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#5 Biglou13


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Posted 06 May 2014 - 09:22 PM

Prior to two weeks ago did you change your hand soap, or hand soap,at work. Are only your hands affected?

Ok it's a stretch but sometimes super strong soaps will kill off normal flora on hands making them susceptible to other opportunistic germs/fungus.

The key is something prior to 2 weeks ago changed? Figuring that out my point you in right directions.
Also history of psoriasis predisposes you.

It's very well possible the symptoms you describe are Contact dermatitis.

If you can see you MD or better yet a dermatologist.

Nonetheless google fish oil and psoriasis....

PS. I knew of one MD. Here. with the way liability is now its doubtful you'd get a Internet consult
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#6 Babs


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Posted 06 May 2014 - 10:07 PM

Surgical gloves for clay work?

#7 Karen B

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 10:38 PM

Surgical gloves for clay work?


Yes Babs, I agree.

I have mentioned this several times when people ask about their sore hands. So much easier and effective than a million bags of bag balm.  I use them all the time when working or cleaning in the studio and hardly notice I have them on. You can get a non-latex box of 100 at the pharmacy for about 11 bucks.

#8 williamt


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Posted 06 May 2014 - 10:55 PM

I have had good results using A&D ointment (family has used it for years). It is messy. I let it soak in for a while, then wipe off the excess. If it's just bad chappy hands you might notice improvement in a day or two.

However, if you get signs of infection or if the painful cracks persist, definitely see your doctor and tell her or him exactly what you have been exposed to and when (manganese in clay, metals in glaze, silica,etc.).
Be as specific as you can!

And if it has already been 2 weeks, I'd just get on to the doc!!

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#9 Celia UK

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 01:21 AM

I have had mild dermatitis on my hands in the past, which has been very persistent for weeks on end and then suddenly clears. It can arise from using an irritant, that has previously caused no problems - bizarrely the body can suddenly become sensitive to something you have used/ been in contact with for ages. Sometimes a rich emollient eventually does the job (see Cotton gloves advice below), for me when this didn't work, a low dose steroid cream worked miracles (1% cortisone - over the counter in the UK). Beware strong steroids on the skin - definitely only under medical advice!

I agree about using latex-free gloves if, as you say, you are predisposed to skin conditions.

AND - thin cotton gloves, after heavy creaming, worn overnight, make an enormous difference to the absorption into the skin. I wear them from time to time if my hands feel particularly dry - I was amazed the first time I did this. Definitely try them.

As others have said, if all else fails see the doctor.

#10 Tristan TDH

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 05:47 AM

Nitrile gloves, I've been wearing them for years. It takes a while to get used to the , but now I can't work without them, and my hands are Soft and crack free.
You can get a thousand at Costco for about $18.

#11 triagain2002@yahoo.com



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Posted 07 May 2014 - 07:59 AM

Wow !


The amount of wealth, cant thank you all individually but consider a really grateful vibe coming your way for all the insights.


I am typing with the cotton gloves that I put on after slathering on A&D.


I love my dermatologists and md's but hardly any are functional doctors where I live and rather than looking at the main cause I usually get the advice: Stay away from clay... just apply this steroid.. 


I was diagnosed with Zinc deficiency and have run out of my supplement about a month ago.. phew.. reordering today. Same with fish oil and vitamin d I have been neglectful.


I have severe cracked heels as well what I have been told is that my psoriasis is coming out in a different way and all they gave are some lactic or uric acid to slough off the skin to stop buildup which in turn leads to cracks. 


The biggest project I was commissioned with was making race medals for a regatta which encompassede 540 hand built medals.. it was painful to tell the least and I did use a different clay body along white eartenware  - low fire.. and also used another different clay for a class I was taking - 900- the cone 10 one. 

In addition to that like a stupid person when my hands were already semi irritated I proceeded by mixing the glaze bucket without gloves ( !@#$!! to myself) as the instructor was doing it that way I usually wear long gloves. Lesson learned.. guess I am sensitive and have to take extra care.

Will shop for those gloves from costco.


Thank you so much... I am in awe on all the responses I got to help me.. will pay back!


triagain - looking like minnie mouse with white gloves lol.. 

#12 Denice


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Posted 07 May 2014 - 08:05 AM

I buy my gloves at harbor freight, last box I bought was $5 for 100, you get use to them and forget you even have them on.  It doesn't sound like your hands are ready for this but when I do work with clay without gloves I splash my hands with vinegar after I have wash them.  I found this advice in a 60's Ceramic Monthly magazine and I use vasoline at night.  I hope you find the right treatment for your hands.   Denice

#13 Stellaria


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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:28 AM

Zinc deficiency can definitely contribute to skin issues. You may want to concoct your own hand salve to help with known issues - Shea butter for moisturization, lanolin if you don't have any issues with it to encourage moist healing, zinc oxide as a nutritive protectant, and maybe some infused comfrey or calendula in olive oil with some beeswax to get it to the right consistency.

I use a blend of shea, coconut oil, and lanolin when I get awful and scaly. Really, I should be using it every day, but I tend to forget until it gets SUPER dry and unbearable. But it does work for me when I remember to use it!

Please excuse the overzealous kitchen-witchery over here :) I find this sort of thing fun!

#14 Stephen



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Posted 07 May 2014 - 10:51 AM

If you had psoriasis when you were young you still have it. It does not go away it just goes in remission with some people and it may never reappear or reappear at any time. It can be mild or very serious and you don't want to take it lightly. It could be totally unrelated but I would strongly recommend that you go to the doctor. Sometimes its worth the hassle and early treatment regiments can make a difference.


If your doctor confirms psoriasis and advises you to stay away from clay and just apply some ointment then you should do some research yourself and find a dermatologist that works with psoriasis and understands proper treatment regiments. 

#15 mnnaj



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Posted 07 May 2014 - 01:18 PM

As a preventative I use a barrier cream.  I don't remember the brand.  I special ordered it from my pharmacy.  Apparently it comes either as a water barrier cream or an oil barrier cream.  The instructions for mine were to rub it in and then run the hands under cool water.  The water would bead off where ever the cream was.  Every couple of hours it should be reapplied.  

hope this helps.


#16 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 03:42 PM



I was diagnosed with Zinc deficiency and have run out of my supplement about a month ago.. phew.. reordering today. Same with fish oil and vitamin d I have been neglectful.



That makes perfect sense with my advice to take zinc.  Since you ran out a month ago, it takes a few weeks for a vitamin to change your body (or the lack of one). 

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#17 Darcy Kane

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 07:30 AM

Before switching to teaching I was in the hair care industry.  I stopped doing perms when my hands began to suffer negative effects from exposure to perm solution.  The assumed culprit was the ammonium thioglycolate; however, it took months to heal up the rash/sores/blisters etc.  I used all the treatments imaginable and mentioned here, but what finally got it under control was a high powered steroid from my doc.  Interestingly enough, the skin eruptions are caused by the loss of "waterproofness" in the skin.  Once your skin has lost that waterproof barrier, any water your hands are exposed to causes an outbreak.  Occasionally I still get a small outbreak in the palm of my left hand but only after prolonged exposure to clay and/or water.  Also as a heads up, extended periods of time in a waterproof glove can also exacerbate the issue.  When in gloves, our hands sweat a lot, and sweat is very irritating to the skin.  Also remember to not reuse your gloves.   Remember the recipe for bacteria growth, heat, darkness, and warmth… sounds like the inside of a glove to me!  

If you don't think your hands sweat, put on a pair of waterproof gloves and go for a run.  The fingertips will be literally full of sweat when  you get back from your 5 mile run!  And just for those that are saying now, what kind of a ninny runs with gloves on, I tried it thinking it would keep moisturizing cream on my very sore hands and protect them from the cold.  Yeah, NOPE.  In small strong doses, prescribed by your doctor, steroids are your friend!  The over the counter stuff isn't strong enough to get the job done once you have a serious outbreak.  Long and short of it, get yourself to a qualified dermatologist.  

#18 Min


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Posted 08 May 2014 - 10:10 AM

+1 for the suggestions to get medical advice. Exam and history prior to making a diagnosis and treatment plan would be a given for a condition that doesn't clear in a couple weeks.

#19 Chilly


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Posted 08 May 2014 - 05:54 PM

Wow !


In addition to that like a stupid person when my hands were already semi irritated I proceeded by mixing the glaze bucket without gloves ( !@#$!! to myself) as the instructor was doing it that way I usually wear long gloves. Lesson learned..


I can work with clay without gloves, but glazes always dry out my skin so always wear gloves.




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