New paralegal job = a million papercuts! How do I prevent them and/or heal more quickly?
December 19, 2007 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I just started a paralegal job where my main task is to sort through boxes and boxes of documents. (Yay fun!) I know that I'm less likely to get papercuts if I keep my hands moisturized, so I brought in a bottle of lubriderm, but it doesn't seem to be quite doing the trick. My next move is to get a very very thick lotion, like perhaps the L'Occitane hand cream that everyone raves about. I've also read reviews of this "gloves in a bottle" lotion that excema-sufferers use. Does anyone have any experience with this type of lotion and its effectiveness for preventing papercuts? Any other recommendations for lotions or creams? If anyone has any tips on how to get the cuts to heal faster once I've been bitten, I'd love to hear it too! Thanks!
posted by ahimsa to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have skin issues. I mean blood seeping and the whole nine yards. Not to be gross, but L'Occitane hand cream as linked above is the only thing this time of year that keeps my forearms and shins from litterally splitting open and ruining my clothes.

As for papercuts, I can't speak, I can however say that if you get dried out and cracking skin from handling tons of paper and cardboard all day like I did as a paralegal, the L'Occitane stuff is for you.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:30 AM on December 19, 2007

I've used Gloves in a Bottle and wasn't impressed, plus it's expensive and hard to find.

My favorite lotion in the world is Gold Bond Ultimate Healing - it's thick but absorbs easily, and it's the only moisturizer that makes my skin feel genuinely soft rather than covered in lotion. Some people don't like the smell, but it's a light neutral smell that doesn't bother me.

Aquaphor or just plain Vaseline might work, too, but they're greasy, of course.

And, of course, here's my obligatory plug for Makeup Alley, best place ever for health/beauty product reviews.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:31 AM on December 19, 2007

Oh, and rubber fingers or finger moistener may be your friends as well.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2007

I used Corn Huskers Lotion while on a very papercutty temp assignment.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2007

People in New England use Bag Balm. Look for it in farm supply and feed stores. If you do get something like glove-in-a-bottle it is less expensive from an industrial supply house. Same as
the fancy stuff minus the perfume.
posted by Raybun at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2007

Rubber fingers are really important if you're sorting through papers all day, trust me (as a former temp who did nothing but file papers for a good solid 4 months).

That said, my favorite and reasonably priced lotion that works without being all greasy and/or nasty is Sarna lotion. It's medicated and really helps my skin from getting all dry & cracked & nasty in the winter.
posted by tastybrains at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2007

I cannot help you heal your papercuts faster, but I found this spray bandage stuff very useful to keep from further aggravating them until they healed. Especially the ones on the knuckles from file folders jammed in too close together.
posted by fidelity at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2007

Dude, you need some of those 'finger condoms' that I see at the drugstore every now and then. Theoretically, they'd also have more friction than your dry thumb-and-forefinger, which means you could increase your productivity.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:04 PM on December 19, 2007

Ahh, there they are.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:06 PM on December 19, 2007

Get yerself some archivist gloves.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:20 PM on December 19, 2007

Seconding Happy Dave.

I used to be a museum intern/slave and I found that gloves like these (I really liked the ones with the vinyl tips) saved my hands from dehydration and cuts. Not only will you avoid paper cuts, but if you apply lotion before putting them on, you will have beautiful hands.

They are more noticeable than finger condoms, but less fussy to wear.
posted by annaramma at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2007

I have the same issues as Pollomacho from the sound of it. I use plain whipped shea butter that has been whipped with grapeseed oil and neem oil. It takes longer than an emulsion lotions to absorb into the skin and neem oil, if you've never smelled it, has an extremely.....unique smell. Not for the faint of nose. I usually put it on at night. Plain shea butter without the neem oil, too, is itself a wonder. Avoid, however, if you have a latex allergy.
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2007

like pollomacho, i have skin issues (scaling, peeling, cracking, bleeding, yum). i have also tried a lot of hand creams. the best thing i found was aveda's hand relief cream (sounds a little filthy, doesn't it?). it is awesome and smells really good too, in a kind of herbal/coriander way.
posted by apostrophe at 12:37 PM on December 19, 2007

super glue works great for sealing/holding together paper cuts while they heal
posted by estronaut at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2007

You guys rock. Thank you!

@pollomacho, tastybrains, & wild_eep: I am a bit skeeved out by the finger condoms and rubber fingers - partially because the only time I've seen them used was by this older, creepy guy I used to work with, and thus he's forever associated with them in my head. But if the moisturizing doesn't work, maybe I'll give the archivists gloves or finger condoms a try.

Looks like I'm going to put a few of the suggested lotions on my shopping list, and I'll see which ones work best - l'occitane, aveda, sarna, etc. Keep your fingers crossed for, erm, my fingers' safety.

@fidelity - good idea with the spray bandage! I've never tried those.
posted by ahimsa at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2007

oh, and about the aveda, i think they have a smaller 'travel' size available in the store if you're not ready to plunk down change for the full-size one. good luck.
posted by apostrophe at 12:55 PM on December 19, 2007

My weapons: Eucerin for moisture (it's greasy, but it works) and superglue to cover cuts. Superglue saved my life when I worked in a climate where my hands and feet cracked from being so dry.

I think liquid bandage is pretty much the same thing as superglue, though I don't know for sure as I've never tried it.

I also love Molton Brown Naran Ji for my hands. Smells yummy.
posted by culberjo at 1:22 PM on December 19, 2007

My hands get very dry during the winter, sometimes to the point of bleeding, and I've found that lotions that contain shea butter tend to work the best at keeping my skin moisturized for long periods of time. Currently I'm using Bath and Body Works' signature hand cream*, which isn't too greasy and a small amount will go a long way for a long time.

Another thing you might want to try at home is switching your regular hand soap for something that promises to be more moisturizing. I know that I would often get to the point where I would have gingerly pat my hands dry with the towel, as my old antibacterial soap would dry my skin out even more. Again, BBW have a moisturizing antibacterial soap line* that is very good, and contains shea butter and green tea extract. Currently though I'm using Dove's bar soap, which does a fair job, but I think I prefer the BBW stuff.

*Disclaimer: I work part time seasonal at Bath and Body Works, but I'm speaking as consumer who prefers these items to the drug store stuff I would buy that never seemed to keep my hands moisturized for more than an hour at the time. Plus I've already gone through a long process of trial and error with many of the other hand care related products they and other stores sell, and these have been the ones that have worked best for me.
posted by kosher_jenny at 3:53 AM on December 20, 2007

I work with tons of documents day in and day out. Papercuts will happen and the moisture thing really does help. I also have eczema and after checking the ingredients on the "glovesinabottle" I wouldn't go near that. Dimethicone is the #2 ingredient and it highly irritates my sensitive skin. I keep a bottle of Avalon Aloe Unscented in my drawer at all times. It's not greasy (some moisturizers leave marks on paper, mylar, sepia and vellum) or smelly and feels delightful. Never have had any irritation with it either. Highly recommend it.
posted by green herring at 1:38 PM on December 20, 2007

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