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Landscape gardener’s are often faced with an on-going problem. One of the most important tools of their trade, namely their hands, can suffer from dermatitis. This condition will make the skin sore, brittle and unsightly. Thankfully, it is a condition that can usually be easily treated with the correct skin care routine.

Dermatitis, often used to cover a wide range of skin problems, is commonly regarded as referring to skin inflammation, rashes and soreness outbreaks. As a generic condition, it does not have a single cause. Rather, it can result from contact with allergens, be due to an inappropriate hygiene routine, stem from an inadequate diet, or even be linked to a person’s hereditary makeup.

The foundation of any good garden is the soil. The landscape gardener will build upon this foundation and adorn with plants, low-level walls, paving areas and an assortment of other decorative features.

Unfortunately, the main component, soil, is not conducive to healthy skin. With everyday tasks such as lifting heavy goods around the plot and working with flowers, vegetation and seedlings, it is not surprising that dirt and grime can become ingrained – this is particularly prone in the vicinity of the hands and fingernails.

Ingrained grime not only looks unattractive, but it can lead to dry skin. With the passage of time, this can lead to inflamed, sore and cracked skin ‘ often referred to by the catch-all term “chapped hands&#8221.

In such cases, the normal inclination is to wash the skin with a strong soap or, even worse, use a brush to scrub the skin clean. This may remove every last trace of dirt, but it will also likely remove the surface lipids that are vital for maintaining your skin’s correct moisture levels.

Moisturise and protect. This is excellent advice not only for plants but the landscaper gardener as well.

Just as plants need nurturing and protection so does a landscape gardener’s skin.

First, choose a mild soap or cleansing lotion, free from chemical additives. Use cool, not hot, water. Dry by blotting the skin with a soft, cotton rich towel rather than by rubbing.

Adopting this hygiene routine will allow you to clean without further damaging the skin.

Next, select a moisturising product. This will help maintain supple and healthy hands. In addition, barrier cream protection will help minimise contact with irritants and allergens. Ideally, using a product that encompasses both will provide an effective skin care routine for all those who regularly work in and around the garden.

The cream chosen should not contain any fragrance as these ingredients can sometimes produce an adverse reaction. This will rule out many cosmetic moisturising creams. You should also be aware that, any cream that leaves the skin feeling oily or greasy is also likely leaving a layer on the hands that can act as a harbour for further dirt contamination. A good barrier cream will also allow the skin to breathe naturally and be resistant to removal by normal hand washing.

Finally, reduce skin friction on the hands by wearing freshly cleaned gloves for any heavy duty work. However, whilst gloves offer excellent short-term protection, avoid wearing them for prolonged periods as they can trap perspiration and themselves become a cause of friction.

If you adopt these few simple rules, soon your hands will be up to even the grandest of landscape designs – and the arduous tasks that are involved in making them a reality.

As with any other health issue, if the onset of your dermatitis is sudden, or is extensive, or is accompanied by other symptoms, seek immediate advice from your doctor.