Protect Your Hands Before Digging in the Dirt

(ARA) - Now that winter has faded away and warmer temperatures have finally arrived, one of America's favorite pastimes is once again taking center stage. According to the U.S. National Gardening Association, 85 million or 74 percent of American households participated in some kind of do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities in 2006.

Among the many reasons so many people enjoy gardening, it offers an escape from our hectic lives by reducing feelings of stress and stimulating the senses, it's a great way to get some exercise while at the same time enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and it adds beauty to our surroundings.

Stacy Livermore of Beavercreek, Ore., has always enjoyed spending time in her garden. She calls it her great escape. "I love my job as a kindergarten teacher but it can get hectic. It's so nice to be able to come home at the end of the day and tend to the flower and vegetable plants in complete silence," she says.

But not so long ago, participating in one of her favorite activities caused Livermore a lot of pain. Because she washes her hands so often at work, and uses hard, scratchy paper towels to dry them, she says it seemed like her hands were always cracked and hurting, and not just in the wintertime either.

"I had tried just about every cream on the market to improve the situation, but nothing worked until I stumbled upon O'Keeffe's Working Hands Crème at my local feed store," says Livermore. "They were offering samples at an opportune time. That day, my hands and knuckles were cracked and bleeding. After I put it on, they felt better, so I went ahead and bought a container. Now I use it several times a day."

O'Keeffe's Working Hands Crème was developed by Livermore's fellow Oregonian, Tara O'Keeffe, a pharmacy school graduate whose rancher father had been plagued by severe splits and cracks on the skin of his hands and feet. "Dad's skin was so dry it cracked and bled, and it hurt to shake hands," remembers O'Keeffe. "But within a week of starting to use the formulation I had developed, his bleeding hands were cured."

A decade later, millions of people across the country swear by the crème made up mainly of water and glycerin that hydrates the skin, stimulates its growth and traps moisture in the top layers. "They recommend that you put it on once a day right before you go to bed so your hands can heal at night, but I use it more often that that," says Livermore. "I put on a little dab every time I wash my hands. It's not greasy and it absorbs really well."

In addition to using O'Keeffe's Working Hands Crème on a regular basis to heal and protect dry, chapped hands, the experts recommend gardeners also…

* Wear gloves to protect their hands from thorns, abrasive tools, harsh chemicals and the soil itself. Pick gloves appropriate for different garden chores. Cotton jersey is good for all around work, while thick leather gloves are good for wet work or work around plants with thorns or spines. For really wet work, including handling chemicals, wear rubber or plastic gloves with cotton liners.

* Use tools to work the soil instead of digging in the dirt with your bare hands. Soil and potting mixes, whether in the garden or in containers, deplete moisture from the skin on hands and fingers. Prolonged contact with soil can be very drying to your hands. Add the abrasive effect of grit in soil, and skin begins to lose its protective barrier to further water loss.

"I know I should wear gloves and use tools in the garden, but I prefer to work the dirt with my bare hands," says Livermore. "Thanks to O'Keeffe's Working Hands Crème I can do that without having to endure pain."

Initially, O'Keeffe's Working Hands was sold primarily in the cosmetics aisle at such stores as Walgreens, but has recently started showing up at home improvement stores like Lowe's, as well as farm stores like Tractor Supply. It's also sold online through the company Web site:

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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