Paraffin Wax for Chronically Dry Chapped & Cracked Hands
Paraffin, a petroleum byproduct, melts at a low temperature and holds onto heat well. These useful qualities made paraffin the right substance for the radiator in the Moon Rover. They also make paraffin an excellent tool for moisturizing the hands and feet. Paraffin baths were originally heat treatments for patients with arthritis or sports injuries. When people noticed how the heat of the paraffin allowed moisture to deeply penetrate dilated pores, paraffin dips became part of manicures and pedicures to soften skin on the hands and feet.
An esthetician at a spa or nail salon melts paraffin in a heating tub. She may add fragrant oil to the paraffin. After soaking your hands and feet, she will apply lotion. She will help you dip one hand or foot at a time into the paraffin. Be careful not to touch the sides or bottom of the heated tub. Raise your hand or foot out of the wax and let it cool to create a waterproof layer. Dip your foot or hand another two to four times. Your esthetician will wrap plastic bags around your hands and feet and towels around the plastic bags. Sit still for about 20 minutes. The esthetician will slide the wax off of your hands and feet at the end of the treatment.
The heat of the wax dilates the pores of your skin, allowing moisture to penetrate deeply. The wax seals moisture within its layers, exposing your hands for an extended period. The wax itself is silky and rich with an emollient effect. Because the wax adheres to your fingers and toes, it can heat the small ligaments and joints, providing relief from minor aches. Plus, sitting still for 20 minutes without using your hands can be relaxing.
You can find paraffin treatments at spas. For a less expensive treatment, try a paraffin dip at a nail salon. Many salons will allow you to purchase the paraffin dip without any other services. Or, buy a home paraffin kit. They are available in drugstores or online. Most kits come with a heating tub, wax, fragrance and plastic bags. The Ohio State University Medical Center provides instructions for home paraffin treatments using a crock pot. Some people use a double-boiler pan to melt the wax. If you are doing the treatment at home, be sure to use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the wax.
Do not do a paraffin treatment if you have open wounds. Tell your esthetician if you have any allergies. You may want to avoid fragrance in the paraffin and lotion. For chronically chapped hands, consult a doctor. Skin conditions can be symptoms of larger imbalances.
For home treatments, set up your plastic bags and towels before you start to dip our hands. According to the Ohio State University Medical Center, you can reuse your paraffin. To clean debris from the wax, strain it through a cheesecloth. Be sure to test the temperature of the wax on your wrist before you dip your entire hand.
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