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Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Its primary function is to protect you from pathogens. While your skin is tough, it’s not invincible. Sometimes it needs additional barriers to protect you from work-related skin problems.
Wearing the right gloves is important because injuries can happen in a lot of different ways. Knowing the hazards that plague your hands is what helps you make the best choice.
Here are 5 of the most common work-related skin problems and glove recommendations to solve them.
Contact dermatitis on the hands is common in industries involving cleaning, catering, metalwork, hairdressing, healthcare, mechanical work, and laboratories.
This work-related skin problem develops from working with solvents, cleaning agents and other irritants. Dermatitis reactions include redness, inflammation, rashes, blisters, and dry and cracked skin.
The first step to prevent this painful skin disorder is to properly wash and dry your hands. Use a soft soap that won’t strip essential oils away from your skin.
When buying gloves to prevent contact dermatitis, look for options that allow your skin to breathe and sweat to evaporate.
If sweat and moisture pool on your skin, your hands will soften and become more damage prone.
Consider using a liner under your disposable gloves like the STN120HF, this ultra-thin inspector glove absorbs moisture away from your skin and its half-finger design won’t inhibit your ability to feel.
How you take off and dispose of your gloves is paramount when handling caustic substances, solvents, and oils.
“I would sometimes touch the outside of the glove when I removed them, which would transfer the pesticide to my fingers,” writes Robert Phalen in his post on contact dermatitis. “I also realized that I would use a pen with gloved hands and then use that same pen without gloves.”
Developing calluses is considered a point of pride for people in every faction, from weightlifters to guitar players.
Although calluses might make playing guitar easier, many people find them unsightly and, sometimes, even painful.
Remember: It’s easier to prevent an injury than it is to heal one. Wearing gloves is the best preventative method when it comes to calluses.
If you’re putting your hands through a lot of friction during the workday (in industries like framing or lumber) a leather-palmed glove like S13KBGLP can help. Made with goatskin, nature’s strongest leather, this glove has a cut-resistant string-knit body for better hand movement and breathability compared to a full leather glove.
There is a right way and a wrong way to removing calluses.
The Wrong Way:
Picking at them. When you pick at a callus, your body interprets that as a call to make it thicker and tougher.
Picking at a callus can also result in bleeding and if the instrument you’re using isn’t sterile, it could lead to an infection.
The Right Way:
Read our post “What Your Hands are Trying to Tell You“
Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is an infection characterized by muscle spasms. These spasms typically start in the jaw and progress to the rest of the body.
Caused by a dirty object, like a needle or nail, which punctures the skin, tetanus can result in spasms, breathing problems and heart attacks.
While tetanus isn’t a skin problem per se, these punctures most commonly happen to the hands or feet. While the tetanus shot can fight off infection, 10% of people who contract tetanus die.
Antibodies from the vaccine decrease over time and you should get a booster shot every ten years.
When choosing gloves to prevent punctures that could lead to tetanus, hepatitis or sepsis, look for those made with Punkban™ like in our S10LXPB.
Punkban™ is designed by using multiple layers of Kevlar® to create a puncture-resistant barrier that can protect from hypodermic needles
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 5,000 workers are hospitalized as a result of burns each year. Of those 5,000 injuries, 200 of them are fatal. Most burns can be treated and prevented.
Different styles of heat gloves are rated for different temperatures, so you’ll need to know the temperature of the object you’re handling.
Learn everything you need to know with The Beginner’s Guide to Heat Resistance.
Anyone who has ever worked with concrete knows that it can burn your skin. Tile grout, mortar, plaster, stucco, and terrazzo… and any other product that contains cement can as well.
Don’t think it’s a big concern?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that lost workdays in masonry are 2.5 times greater and in concrete fields are seven times greater than the U.S. national average.
This is because of the caustic nature of cement.
Cement contains calcium oxide, which isn’t harmful on its own. But, when cement is mixed with water, calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) is formed. Unprotected exposure to wet cement can lead to severe skin irritation and chemical burns, due to the high pH level of calcium hydroxide.
Cover exposed skin when working with cement or products containing cement. If cement does accidentally contact your skin, immediately clean the area with cool water.
Your hands are one of the most vulnerable body parts and need to be covered. Ideally, you should be wearing a chemical-resistant glove like our NIF3018.
This option is unrealistic in the height of summer due to its lack of breathability.
Instead, opt for something like the S10LXQ. This simple, breathable option will protect your hands without breaking the bank.
Work-related skin problems are very common and can happen in any industry. They can be very costly to the health of the affected worker and to the employer who are may loss an employee. Other factors like employee absence for treatment, recruiting, training and compensation expenses should also be considered.
The good news is that, although these problems are common, they are preventable. Choosing the right pair of gloves that will protect you without inhibiting your work, see how our Advocate Program can help.
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Hand Injury Rates are Reduced by 60% when using the right gloves.