Life with a new-born came with both the expected, and the unexpected! We were as prepared as we could be for a lack of sleep, little or no routine, and plenty of nappy changes, but one thing I didn’t anticipate was how sore my hands would get.
Having a new baby in the house heightened my awareness of all things unhygienic, and I found myself washing my hands every time I passed the sink. With two dogs in the house, I was also careful to wash my hands every time I’d touched them, which as you can imagine was fairly often.
Along with washing and sterilising bottles, as well as normal day to day hand-washing, my hands quite quickly became very sore. Already prone to eczema, I ended up with an outbreak across both hands.
After a few weeks, it became apparent my eczema wasn’t going to clear up by itself, so I had to make some changes. As it isn’t an option to simply stop washing your hands, especially with a new-born around, I came up with a few coping strategies which helped my hands recover.
While not everyone will suffer from eczema, I know quite a few Mums who suffer from dry hands from too much hand-washing, so hopefully sharing these tips will be handy for them too!
– Cut down on the washing up
We have a dishwasher, but unless we have family and friends round, it just seems easier to quickly wash up. A couple of minutes here and there, and as I go along cooking, it hardly takes any time at all when just the two of us are eating.
But with sore hands, I had to start being strict with myself, cutting down to only essential washing up. I started to put everything in the dishwasher, even when it was just a couple of plates and mugs, limiting the washing up to Harry’s bottles.
It took a couple of days to fill the dishwasher, but it made a real difference to how much time I spent washing up.
I also saved washing up for my husband to do when he got home, mainly the bottles I’d used throughout the day. Not quite what he felt like doing after a long day at work, but it had to be done!
– Carefully consider what might be causing the irritation
Wearing rubber gloves to wash up would have been an easy solution, but as I’m allergic to latex, they weren’t an option for me.
However, it did click that we’d switched to an anti-bacterial washing up liquid when Harry was born, albeit the same brand we’d always used.
Switching to something a little gentler made a slight difference, but I think unfortunately by then the damage had been done.
– Find a moisturiser that works for you
So many moisturisers designed for eczema prone skin did more damage than good, stinging as soon as I rubbed them into my hands.
Through trial and error I found emollient based creams really helped my sore hands, so I stocked up to make sure I had some nearby at all times.
At one point I had a tube by both sinks, one in our changing bag, another at my makeup table and a fifth in the car… thankfully, you can pick up Diprobase Emollient cream for just a few pounds, so buying several tubes won’t break the bank!
– Having a little bit of common sense…
In a sleepy fog I was doing silly things, that certainly weren’t helping my hands get any better.
Going out in the freezing cold without any gloves was daft, and opening a still steaming microwave steriliser was as painful as it was stupid.
Extreme temperatures don’t do eczema any favours, so my hands only started to get better when I started taking care of them. Common sense, I know… but sometimes it’s hard to prioritise yourself when you have a little one to look after.
All in all, with a little care and attention, my eczema has really improved. It still flares up from time to time, and I think it always will, but armed with my coping strategies hopefully my hands won’t get quite so sore.