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Cracked hands

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I've been at it for quite a bit now, still have never found a solution for this.  Cracked skin on fingers and eternal hangnails.  Any tips?  And before you recommend lotions, I've tried them all and amlactin has been the most helpful but this is still the current state of my hands.  It looks like the surface of desert after it has rained.  

I am used to the pain now, and only really notice it when I first get my hands wet, but wondered if this is pretty common.

If it is, post your cracks!  (Dont get to say that every day, do ya)

My cracks and nails are dirty from my yellow and red clays, don't worry I don't have any sort of infection :lol:

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I get that too, I used a glycerin and silicone based hand cream but I  put it on at night too, loads then put on cotton gloves. A few nights of that and it's usually getting better. Oh and softer water helps too, I moved across the country.... Different water, different affect.

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2 minutes ago, LeeU said:

Mine are like that at times, including my elbows and heels.  I use Vermont's Original Bag Balm. https://bagbalm.com/ Works like a miracle. It was developed for treating cow udders, dog paws, etc. that get dry/cracked. 

Tried bag balm, can't stand it haha.  Might be able to stomach it when I'm asleep but it's like axle grease.  Part of the problem is my hands are working with plaster and gypsum all day too, and then I go home and play with clay fir a few hours

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"Signature Club A" - Rapid Transport C Infused Night Creme

My wife had some of this stuff, I had been trying lotions/cremes and Burt's Bees was OK, but this stuff is amazing. My hands were like yours and it fixed them in 3 days, if I remember to put it on after a throwing session my hands never crack.

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Pour a little apple cider vinegar into your palm after you've washed up and work it into your skin. It can sting on open cuts but it counteracts the alkalinity of the clay. Put the moisturizer on when your hands dry. Have you tried Barriere cream before you start working? 

 

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Just now, Min said:

Pour a little apple cider vinegar into your palm after you've washed up and work it into your skin. It can sting on open cuts but it counteracts the alkalinity of the clay. Put the moisturizer on when your hands dry. Have you tried Barriere cream before you start working? 

 

I have not tried either of those things, I'll have to give it a shot.  Thanks min!

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Another thing I find helps that seems really counterintuitive is to make sure you wash your hands really well with dish soap after you're done working, and then apply your heavy hand cream of choice while hands are damp. I prefer something with a beeswax base myself. I either make my own (allergies), or there's a lady in town that makes a nice garderner's hand balm.

The dish soap is important, because the surfactant breaks the bonds of the super fine particles that cling to your skin and dry things out. 

I do not get cracked skin, and I live in an almost-desert.

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I also suggest a barrier  cream of some sort, I ordered mine from Walgreens, can't remember the name.  There are barrier creams that act as a resist to water (useful for clay) and barrier creams for oil (working on cars or with oil paint).   I used mine for a while, but couldn't remember to put it on BEFORE touching the clay.  It works when it is used.

Nancy

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14 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

Another thing I find helps that seems really counterintuitive is to make sure you wash your hands really well with dish soap after you're done working, and then apply your heavy hand cream of choice while hands are damp. I prefer something with a beeswax base myself. I either make my own (allergies), or there's a lady in town that makes a nice garderner's hand balm.

The dish soap is important, because the surfactant breaks the bonds of the super fine particles that cling to your skin and dry things out. 

I do not get cracked skin, and I live in an almost-desert.

I do wash with dish soap right after throwing, man if the clay dries on my hands I actually get super irritated skin, so right after throwing I run inside and lather up.

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Bag balm is the best but I too have not used it in years. I glue my cracked bleeding fingers with super glue-works great and hold long enough to heal.

I use a lot of that glue

The glicerin based prioducts work well as well

Edited by Mark C.

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Just now, Mark C. said:

Bag balm is the best but I too have not used it in years. I glue my cracked bleeding fingers with super glue-works great and hold long enough to heal.

I use a lot of thatb glue

That's what we do at work too if they get to bleeding.  The only cracks that really bleed on my hands are at the knuckles.  

Another thing I've noticed working with red clays is that my hands are basically dyed red in parts.  The mark of hands that are used I suppose, should wear them with pride.

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When I was teaching HS, and a department chair for the Art department, I had a colleague also teaching ceramics that was always complaining of cracked skin. He would get so bad they would be bleeding. This even after he had been using tons of moisturizer. I took a day to watch him my periods off. . . . he would wash his hands with soap and water every time he would get a little dirty. I told him that if he would stop washing so often and just rinse except when going to lunch, and after restroom that his hands should clear up. Yup, a few weeks later he said his hands had cleared up, and no longer a problem. Go figure.

 

 

best,

Pres

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Bag Balm is great stuff, I grew up using it for a lip balm, never on my hands though.

Growing up, the Walgreen's drug store chain, used to sell this hand healer.  It was in a clear bottle, with a white and green label.  The product was also clear, and relatively thin.  It had an ammonia-ish smell, and did sting a bit, if you had deep cracks, but did a great job.  Sadly, you can't find it anymore.  My Mom used all of her Online Shopping-Fu and managed to snag a couple bottles, but the product is discontinued.  We figure, there's got to be something like it, out there...

I'm a fan of O'Keefe's Working Hands.  It feel it creates a good barrier.

I also second Pres' advice, about rinsing, not washing your hands so frequently.  I saw him mention it years ago, and haven't been following it ever since.  I tell my students to do the same.  If I'm going to handle food, or touch something that needs to be "Clean, clean", I'll use soap.  But if I'm just going around the room, helping students, I'll give a rinse, after applying slip with my finger, or helping a student on the wheel.  As I figure it, clay is cleaner than most of the surfaces in the room anyway. 

I also will reapply lotion more frequently, to act as a barrier, especially before helping students on the wheel and such.  The only time I will not apply lotion, is if I'm glazing, so I don't leave greasy, oily marks on the bisque surface. 

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https://www.amazon.com/Corn-Huskers-Oil-Free-Hand-Lotion/dp/B000RO3EMA

This is what I use. I used it when I worked in cement when I was a young man. I used to get cement on my hands which had calcium in it in the winter to help it set up. Nothing cracks hands faster than cement and calcium.

You can find it at almost any drug store or Walmart in my area. Apply it rub your hands together, and apply more again until your hands feel better. Sometimes we would use a bottle a week because our hands would get so bad.  It works a treat. I still use it every day for my hands after pottery.

My wife also uses it on her feet in the winter when she gets dry skin and her feet crack because she has life-long calluses from when she danced all her young life.

It is cheap too, so at least give it a shot.

I also agree with Mark. I superglue all my cuts together anytime I get any cuts from work or working outside. I do a quick Hibiclens rinse then glue skin back together, never had a problem yet.

Edited by Joseph Fireborn

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my recipe for cracked hands: 
Never let the clay dry on my hands; wash with Lava soap frequently to remove the clay.

I use Corn Huskers Lotion on my hands after throwing to rehydrate the skin.  It has no oils so leaves no resisting spots on bisqueware from my handling. 

 

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Make sure any balm or lotion doesn't have any water in it.   I wash my hands with just water when I am finished for the day in my studio.   I dry them and then pour vinegar in my palm and rub it on my hands.  I let them air dry,  do not rinse the vinegar off.    I use a hot waxer for my hands and feet now,  I was using petroleum jelly but the waxer works faster.   I am 66 and people always remark how young my hands look.   Denice

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My hands get chapped and rashy during the winter months. I’ve tried so many different lotions, but the only ones that work for me are petroleum based, with glycerin or mineral oil. The one I’ve been using for a few years is Eucerin Skin Calming Cream. 

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@Joseph Fireborn, I followed the link you posted for Corn Huskers and since I'm allergic to just about every soap, lotion, etc that I've tried I scrolled down to look at the ingredients and came across a couple warnings about the product. Guess it depends where you draw the line in the sand as to whether it's a good idea to be using this stuff.

"Safety Warning

California’s Proposition 65 Warning: May This item contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Reference by California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) at: www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html."

plus this one:

"Legal Disclaimer

Warning: This product may contain a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm."

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10 minutes ago, Min said:

@Joseph Fireborn, I followed the link you posted for Corn Huskers and since I'm allergic to just about every soap, lotion, etc that I've tried I scrolled down to look at the ingredients and came across a couple warnings about the product. Guess it depends where you draw the line in the sand as to whether it's a good idea to be using this stuff.

"Safety Warning

California’s Proposition 65 Warning: May This item contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Reference by California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) at: www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html."

plus this one:

"Legal Disclaimer

Warning: This product may contain a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm."

Probably the triethanolamine, but prop 65 has a super low barrier, so take that with a grain of sand.  That stuff is glycerin, emulsifiers and surfactants.  Im not sure why you'd want to emulsify your hands but apparently it works!  

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I don't throw, so this may not work for you, but I wear rubber gloves.  Always when working with plaster or glaze.  Usually when working with clay.  I have extremely dry skin, and use aqueous cream with added tea tree oil twice a day.

 

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9 hours ago, LeeU said:

Super glue!!! Go figure. I guess the second best go-to is duct tape, huh? :rolleyes:

funny you should mention that!

i carefullly press heel balm into hacks then duct tape over area:-000

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