It’s important to take care of your hands

Working with plants, whether indoors or outdoors, can be hard on hands. Soil, water, fertilizers and chemicals leave them dry and irritated. Your hands are very important in your line of work. They need to be cleaned and lubricated just like your pruners, scissors and other tools of the trade.

Hands have few oil-secreting glands. When they are exposed to harsh chemicals, like detergents and water, they can easily dry out.

Use the following practical guidelines to help your hands survive the years…

  • Wear latex or cotton garden gloves whenever possible. Gloves provide protection from soil stains, detergents, water and cold temperatures. The new style of flexible cotton gloves coated with latex are wonderfully protective for your hands. Wear chemical resistant gloves per label instructions whenever you are working with pesticides.
  • If your hands must be in water, keep the water temperature lukewarm. Temperature extremes will damage blood vessels and pull moisture out of you hands. Lengthy immersion in water may cause nails to get ridges, split or break.
  • Carry a moisturizer in your tech bag and apply the lotion after you wash or wet your hands. To enhance the benefits of moisturizers, apply them while your hands are slightly damp.
  • Keep nails trimmed and short. Protect your cuticles by rubbing in a dab of petroleum jelly before putting your hands in water.

After a day of heavy service, pamper your hands and nails with “natural” moisturizers from the kitchen. For example, honey is a proven skin softener. Mix it with vegetable oil to reduce its stickiness. Milk, warmed and massaged in each night, soothes sore hands and reduces redness. Slices of raw cucumber or potato, or the inner side of a grapefruit peel softens hands. Sensitive or chapped hands respond to a paste of dry mustard, oatmeal and water. You can also soak hands in buttermilk for a soothing treatment.

If your hands are really dry and mistreated, try the age-old practice of wearing white cotton gloves to bed over a slathering of olive oil, petroleum jelly or lanolin for a night or two. Give them a helping hand and they will respond with a thumbs up!