Unlike traditional moisturizers, shielding lotions help keep out irritants such as latex allergens and anti-bacterial soaps, while locking in the skins natural moisture As a nurse or medical professional, you know how dry, rough, and uncomfortable your hands can get due to continual handwashing, antibacterial soaps, and the harsh realities of daily living, which rob moisture from your skin. Latex gloves, while offering protection from body fluids and disease, can also contribute to skin problems -- including contact dermatitis and serious allergic reactions -- especially with prolonged use.
Although less than 1 percent of the general population is allergic to latex, the percentage among healthcare workers is much higher -- between 17 and 25 percent, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts believe that constant latex exposure from gloves and other sources puts healthcare professionals such as nurses, dentists, and lab personnel at increased risk of latex sensitivity.
"Latex gloves are hard on the hands even for those not overly sensitive to the material," says Jasmin Elliott, an RN who has worked in hospital and outpatient environments in Southern California. "But wearing them is inevitable as a medical professional. Nearly constant handwashing takes its toll on your hands too, when washing before and after each patient interaction with several patients each hour."
Traditional moisturizers help to a degree, but often get washed off, leaving hands dry, inflexible, or even in pain during hands-on nursing or medical work.
"The typical moisturizer comes off as soon as you wash," says Elliott. "You put more on, and it washes off again, in a vicious cycle. Or things get so busy you dont have time to reapply, and your skin suffers the consequences."
Most moisturizers suffer another serious drawback. For moisture to improve a dry skin condition, it needs to get below your second layer of skin. But the only moisture that does so is your skins own moisture. Artificial moisturizers on the skins surface, in fact, may actually send the wrong message that your skin is adequately moisturized, when its dehydrated of natural moisture. This can reduce your bodys natural production of moisture and exacerbate a dry skin condition.
"I tried just about every type of lotion I could find and nothing worked," says Sharon Thompson, a LVN at an outpatient chemotherapy clinic in Nashville, Tenn. "Many were greasy or fragranced, which is a bad fit for a medical environment where manual dexterity is critical and patient sensitivities must be taken into account. My hands became so dry and cracked that I applied band aids, and patients dont like to see nurses with band aids on their hands."
"Shielding lotions have been a total life-saver for me", says Arnold Stern, DDS, in Forest Hills, NY. "Upon the beginning use of the product over a year ago, I have had a total remission of the latex dermatitis that was plaguing me until that time. Upon continuous use of the lotion, I have had no reoccurrence of the allergy. I have no further symptoms, and will be forever grateful...".
New types of "shielding" lotions are helping to provide a solution, by acting as a barrier to unwanted skin irritants and conserving the bodys own moisture. Unlike traditional moisturizers that add artificial moisture to the skins surface where it can wash away or rub off, shielding lotions instead bond with the outer layer of skin. This keeps moisture-robbing irritants out while helping lock in the skins natural moisture. One application typically lasts for four hours or more and comes off naturally with exfoliated skin cells.
Nurses and other medical professionals are finding shielding lotions a timely and helpful alternative. Looking for relief from dry, cracked skin and painful hands, Thompson turned to a shielding lotion, which she applies on waking, at lunch, and before going to bed.
"The product has put elasticity back in my hands," says Thompson. "Theyre not cracked or sore anymore. I dont have to reapply moisturizer between patients. When I wash, its still there protecting my hands from anti-bacterial soaps, cleansers, even the latex gloves I wear. Its non-greasy, unscented, and absorbs quickly."
Thompson lauds the products restorative powers. "It provides a protective barrier not only to drying or irritating substances, but also to germs," she says. "It helped heal my cracked fingertips and even a cut on my finger, which disappeared after just two days."
"Put a small amount on your hands and it stays there, so your hands arent miserably dry at the end of your shift," adds Elliott. "You can go all day and your hands still feel good underneath. When youre comfortable, you stay focused on your job and enjoy it more, rather than get distracted by irritated, itchy hands."
Because the product has worked so well for Thompson, she gave some to her mother-in-law, who suffered from painfully dry skin as a side effect of chemotherapy and frequent handwashing with antibacterial soaps and cleansers. "She couldnt believe the difference," says Thompson. "She said, Feel my skin, its so soft. My hands and arms feel like skin again."
Sharon L.Workman, an LPN in Workman, Ga., reported, "Being a nurse for 36 years, you can imagine how rough my hands were. As the cooler weather starts my hands also are very dry and cracked. I used this product for two days and the little open areas were healed. In five days the roughness was gone. Now I have people tell me how soft my hands are. This is the first time in many years that this has happened."
Shielding lotions such as Gloves In A Bottle and Skin MD Elite are available in the U.S. and Canada. For more info visit www.glovesinabottle.com or www.skin-md-elite.com .