Your hands are your tools. They are more important than a clipper or pair of scissors and if they are damaged and out of action, so is your business. A groomer’s hands are always in use and are continually being exposed to different physical and chemical irritants that can result in dry, cracked, and sore hands - not forgetting the occasional scratch from a dog.
It may be that after a one-off exposure to a strong irritant (a chemical in a shampoo or treatment for example) that you immediately see a reaction on your skin, or after longer exposure to a weaker irritant you might start to see the negative effects on your hands. Regardless of the causes, having good hand hygiene and care is crucial to avoid problems and maintain these invaluable tools.
WHAT ARE MY HANDS EXPOSED TO?
Work-based dermatitis is mostly found on the hands and results from exposure to irritants and chemicals at work. Hands can look red, flaky, and cracked. They may also swell, blister or you may experience weeping. Skin can feel itchy and sore and if left unmanaged or untreated you may feel unable to continue work. In the case of groomers here are some of the main factors:
- Repeated contact with water – The exposure to water removes the oils and wax that act as a barrier to protect your skin and hold in moisture. Particularly now when additional hand washing is required for Covid-19 infection control, this will be a strong factor in leaving hands dry and sore.
- Exposure to products – The products you use to wash dogs will remove unwanted oils, germs, and debris and along with this, natural oil on the groomer’s hands will be washed away and the skin barrier may be less effective. This protective barrier normally neutralises the degreasing agents in soaps but the exposure to shampoos and the constant contact with water can leave it weak and susceptible to damage by other irritants.
- Physical irritants such as hot air and pet hair – Blasters and dryers are crucial in the style process, but the air and the heat will remove moisture and leave your hands dry. Pet Hair can not only irritate, but newly cut hair can cause a hair splinter. It’s hard to believe such a small thing could cause damage but the hairs can stay in the skin until they are removed and may become infected.
- Exposure to potential allergens in grooming products and medicated treatments – If the skin’s protective barrier is compromised this means that potential allergens or infections can penetrate the skin.
- Pre-existing conditions such as sensitive skin or eczema – If your hands are already sensitive or you suffer from eczema you will generally need to take extra care of your skin, so the factors may worsen your skin’s condition.
Outside of this, you might get an injury from a dog’s teeth or claws, a nick from scissors or clippers, or repetitive strain injury.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY HANDS?
- Wash your hands regularly – This will ensure they are clean but consider using a Glyercin based soap. Glycerin has natural moisturising properties and is also antimicrobial and antiviral so it is great for dry skin. Alcohol-based hand gels will remove germs and bacteria but can be drying if used too much. Consider keeping these for times when you don’t have access to soap and water and make sure you chose a fragrance-free version.
- Moisturise your Hands – After washing make sure to dry your hands properly and then apply moisturiser and let it soak in! Be aware when purchasing that moisturisers hydrate the skin by applying a humectant to the skin's surface which attracts and retains water, while emollients, prevent loss of hydration by forming a protective barrier. Avoid fragranced moisturiser as this can further dry your hands.
- Remove Hair splinters – If you do end up with newly clipped hairs embedded in your skin remove these immediately with tweezers. If you are struggling with tweezers you can soak the area with Epson salts or use a peel-off face mask. Invest in professional grooming clothing, like the pieces from our Groom Professional Range which will not only repel hair and will also give you a professional appearance.
- Gloves – Wearing gloves is recommended now as we continue to manage the spread of Covid-19, but gloves will also limit the contact your hands have with water and grooming products. You could wear a pair of cotton gloves underneath your latex, nitrile or rubber gloves as continued glove wearing can cause hyperhydration when natural water lost by the hands and sweat are present on the skin inside gloves for long periods. Studies have shown that wearing separate cotton liners substantially reduces this effect.
- Ensure you are using comfortable and ergonomic tools to avoid blisters from rubbing or wrist pain from holding tools that are too heavy for you for long periods. Invest in a VertiBax Wrist Optimum Tension Splint which can be worn comfortably every day and support recovery of wrist pain but will also minimise the risk of future injuries. These splints were originally developed with medical practitioners for use in the NHS
Maintain a healthy overall body by eating nutritious food and drinking plenty of water.
If you are worried about the condition of your hands speak to your GP or a dermatologist.
WHAT PRODUCTS SHOULD I HAVE IN MY SALON?
Advanced Groomer Care Enriched Hand Therapy
This advanced hand cream has been developed especially to combat the skin drying effects of grooming and pet activities such as bathing and exposure to water and products and drying with the exposure to hot and cold air. It is packed with moisturising and skin-nourishing ingredients such as Marula Oil, Argan Oil, Sweet Almond Oil alongside Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter.
Marula Oil is a protein that is lightweight and absorbed easily. It provides your skin with amino acids (L-arginine and glutamic acid) that hydrate your skin, fatty acids which build up the proactive skin barrier and help maintain moisture, and antioxidants that protect your skin from UV rays and environmental factors. It also helps keep you nail beds and cuticles soft and to avoid hangnails.
Argan Oil is a fantastic source of Vitamin E which is required for healthy skin and nails and is also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Sweet Almond Oil is fantastic for treating dry skin and reducing inflammation. It is rich in Calcium, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids (which helps with cracked skin, brittle nails and prevents premature aging), Vitamin A for skin renewal, Vitamin E, and Zinc which is essential for healing scars. These oils are then blended with Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter to provide the ultimate, rich hand cream to help restore the skin.
This cream is suitable for dry and sensitive skin. Massage it into your dry hands and around your nails as often as required. Applied before bedtime with some cotton gloves for a deep moisturise.
Advanced Groomers Care Hand Cleansing Gel
This fragrance-free quick dry hand cleansing gel will help you prevent the spread of germs while keeping hands refreshed during the day. This hand gel contains Glycerin which keeps hands soft and smooth, trapping in the moisture and avoiding dry hands.
· Contains 70% Alcohol - effectively cleanses hands and kills germs.
· BS EN 1276 and BS EN 1500 approved.
Leucillin -This antiseptic skincare solution is ideal for cleaning wounds and infections for both pets and groomers. It is antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Apply this to any nicks or cuts you experience while grooming to avoid infection.