Dear Dr. Wu,
My friend, who’s the same age as I, has beautiful hands. She says she never does the dishes so her skin doesn’t age. I do dishes every night and my hands look much older than hers – not fair! What do you suggest for recapturing their youth and preventing future damage? Should I watch the water temperature? Use a certain type of dish soap? Wear gloves? How often should I put on lotion during the day? Do you have any favorite products?
Thanks! Marie, Bethesda
Any activity that exposes your hands to water can be hard on your skin—this includes washing dishes, gardening, and certain occupations such as nursing. Although they can be awkward to use, try to wear gloves as much as possible, especially if you have a large load of dishes. Since hot water can irritate skin that’s already sensitive, it’s best to use lukewarm water if you’re washing lightly soiled dishes, cups, or glasses. (You could also get everyone in the family to rinse their plates as soon as they’ve finished their meal, making your job a whole lot easier, and faster, too!) Of course, if you’re washing dishes or utensils that have touched raw meat, chicken, or eggs, it’s important to use hot water to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Eco-friendly dishwashing liquids are less likely to contain irritating compounds like phosphates, so if you have dry sensitive hands I’d suggest trying Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid or Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Dishwashing Soap. Keep hand lotion by each sink so you can reapply after you wash dishes or wash your hands. Look for hand creams that contain ingredients such as glycerin or shea butter, both of which seal in your skin’s natural oils and help heal cracked skin. My favorites are Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream and L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream. For a special occasion (or just to treat yourself) book a manicure and paraffin wax dip; the paraffin instantly softens rough hands and smoothes ragged cuticles.
Dr. Jessica Wu
Dr. Jessica Wu, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, runs a private practice in Los Angeles and also serves as Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She has appeared on Inside Edition, EXTRA and Lifetime Channel for Women.
Check out Dr. Jessica Wu Cosmeceuticals at www.drjessicawu.com