sensitve lotions for hardcore mofos
June 8, 2009 2:16 AM   Subscribe

This one goes out to all you dish dogs and pearl divers out there: how do you keep your hands in good condition when working in a restaurant? Especially as a dishwasher.

My hands are wet all day. They are covered with burns, cuts, pokes, calluses, etc. What do I need to do to fix dishpan hands? I want to be able to give someone a massage or shake someone's hand without them knowing instantly that I am either a street fighter or I cut fish all day. I live in Japan so more than specific product names types of products would me more help.
posted by Infernarl to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you wear gloves? That's the only thing that worked for me.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:39 AM on June 8, 2009

Gloves are the best option. Otherwise you're stuck in a cycle of stripping the oils from your skin then trying to repair the damage by applying creams and potions. There are some good products out there, but none of them is going to perfectly restore your hands to the point they were at before you marinated them in detergent. Prevention is really much better than the cure.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:04 AM on June 8, 2009

Yeah, gloves are the only thing that ever worked for me but I know that it can be difficult wearing the thick yellow kind as they can get really slippery, really fast, which is a bad combo when you need to carry piles of ceramic plates etc. As long as you don't have to submerge your hands in water past your wrists latex surgical gloves might be a nice compromise between utility and hand protection. Good luck and I feel your pain! (still have the scars on my finger tips to prove it).
posted by hector horace at 6:19 AM on June 8, 2009

I used to cut fish all day, so the first part of my answer is: So what if they think you cut fish all day? The world needs fishcutters and dishwashers too.

But, the only thing that ever helped me through the winters when my hands would dry and crack was to slather my hands in either Aquaphor or Bag Balm or any petroleum jelly-ish skin stuff at night before sleeping. I don't really think any brand was better than the other, but just plain vaseline didn't work as well as the stuff that had a little vitamin E in it. Then I'd stick my hands into cheap white cotton gloves to keep from messing up the bedsheets and go to sleep. In the morning, the gloves would go into a ziplock bag and my hands would be somewhat less goblin-like.
(The gloves were just like these, but I've never bought from that site. You should be able to find them at a hardware/paint store, and it looks like they're used for photo handling also. So they're probably cheap and ubiquitous.)
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:04 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a great easy hand exfoliant that will help soften your hands at the end of the day:

Stand with your hands over the sink, and wet them.
Dump a tablespoon of salt or sugar into your palm (ordinary table salt or white granulated sugar).
Pour a quick glug of oil onto the salt- maybe a teaspoon's worth- olive oil, baby oil, vaseline, soft butter, whatever.
Massage for 2 minutes. The granules will slough off rough skin.
Rinse just with warm water, still rubbing.
Pat mostly dry.
Immediately apply a thick moisturizer while your skin is still damp. I like Curel or Eucerin.

This trick will work best when the skin on your hands is already softened from being wet, so maybe after a shower, shampoo, or even at the very end of your shift.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wearing latex gloves all day can cause or exacerbate latex allergy, or allergy to the talc powder often used to make latex gloves easier to put on. Some glove brands now advertised as "talc free" substitute corn starch or wheat flour for talc, but this can actually cause greater exposure to the latex allergy proteins, according to a recent study. If you do try wearing latex gloves, I highly recommend a skin barrier cream such as WonderGlove, to minimize problems. WonderGlove also helps mitigate loss of skin oils when a glove you are wearing develops a small pinhole leak that you don't immediately notice.
posted by paulsc at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2009

Research worker here that used to have to wear rubber gloves and wash hands 40+ times a day. Bag balm, George's Hand Cream, or glove liners that are preferably made of a wicking material (cotton will do). WonderGlove is excellent.
posted by variella at 8:13 AM on June 8, 2009

Honestly, back when I washed dishes, I did it 5x a week, bare-handed, and after about a month of it, my hands started taking care of themselves. Of course, your mileage is totally going to vary.
posted by General Malaise at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2009

I do what pseudostrabismus and kuujjuarapik do (sugar wash, then oil + gloves before bed) when my hands get rough, but instead of petroleum based products, I use castor oil. The castor oil seems to help with minor aches and pains too, so it serves a dual purpose.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:32 AM on June 8, 2009

I did the same thing as kuujjuarapik during the five years I was washing my hands all day as a cheesemonger, right down to the same restaurant-supply gloves: Slathered my hands with Vaseline at night and covered with knit cotton gloves. I can't say that it's appealing to one's bed partner, but it keeps the cracking and chapping at bay.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2009

I used to wear surgical gloves. My hands still got damp but the skin still was a bit more protected and it made all the difference.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:13 PM on June 8, 2009

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