Dry hands are the bain of a nurses life

Dry hands are the bain of a nurses life

Dr Christine Clark


Many moons ago, as a young student nurse I was introduced to the incredibly important skill of hand washing – real hand washing using a chlorhexidine-based soap that killed everything including your hands. In those wonderful days you washed continuously, not depending very much on gloves at all and the spread of infection was not even considered, as it just didn’t happen. The downside of course, was that our hands felt like stiff, dry cardboard must feel. Not only did they feel yuck but as the years progressed, they started to look as awful as they felt. Now this may just have been an ageing factor but no matter what hand creams I tried I never found anything that made these important appendages actually feel nice.

Certainly, some creams gave an initial impression of softness, suppleness and even of a silk like texture and then wham half an hour later and back we were to the cardboard AGAIN.  How can these tools of caring and sometimes of delight feel so awful?

Believe me that over the years I tried everything from the very, very expensive to the cheap and cheerful. Some creams had so many long words in them it was impossible to understand exactly what they contained, and others had a huge amount of aqua in them and little else. True our skin needs water, but my skin needed far more.

Then one day it happened, and I found a good old kiwi solution. Strolling around a local market I was coaxed into trying Kawakawa Lotion. So out came the hands and this delightful lady assured me this was a hundred-year-old recipe from her grandmother. Yeah, yeah, I had heard it all before, but I liked her and bought some and certainly for the next 30 minutes it was really nice. So, I topped up with one little squirt and it was still nice 30 minutes later and then into the afternoon.

After daily use (actually multiple applications because I did like it) the backs of the hands stopped looking like a really old ladies’ hands and now they only look slightly old. They felt better!

So what is this miracle Kawakawa Oil that has transformed my appendages after so very many, many long years?   Actually, short years because they sure did fly, anyway I digress and onto Kawakawa Oil. According to Mr Google – and I quote “Kawakawa Oil is found naturally in the leaves of the Kawakawa tree, which is a dark green native shrub with a fresh, minty peppery taste. The Kawakawa tree (Macropiper excelsum) is found in coastal and lowland forests throughout the North Island and the northern half of the South Island. It is a small tree, growing to six metres tall, with dense branches”.

It seems that making your own oil is incredibly easy, an inexpensive task that can be achieved at home and of course it makes an incredible gift. Certainly, the Maori have revered its use for many years as a healer, anti-inflammatory agent and a gentle balm for all that ails us. Taken orally it even helps digestion.

Such a traditional remedy, provided to me in a local craft market has changed these old hands.

Back to Blog

Other Articles

Latest news