Skin Care for the Laboratorian

Everyone is aware of the long-term health risks associated with Histotechnology, particularly from chemicals like xylene, and labs have taken steps to protect their techs from these types of dangers. For some histologists however, the lab still poses other threats, not to their internal organs, but to their skin.

The laboratory can be an extremely dry place. Exhaust hoods and ventilation plus the abundance of chemicals throughout the lab, can leave it feeling like a desert. Add a thick lab coat and the heat of this unrelentingly hot summer and you’ve got a bad mix for your skin. Our skin when dry can overproduce oil to compensate, making your face feel oily, which in addition to being uncomfortable can lead to breakouts and other undesirable skin conditions.

If you’re having this problem, make sure to wash your face when you finish a shift. Techs on our Histology Professionals Facebook Page suggest using witch hazel or Cetaphil at night to reduce oiliness. You can also consider keeping face wipes on hand and avoid wearing face makeup, which can make the problem worse.

When it comes to your hands, which are often the biggest victim of laboratory dryness, gloves can go a long way. Nitrile gloves are a less allergenic alternative to latex, which can be used when handling formalin. If you are still having skin problems with the gloves you can use gloves with a moisturizer in them, or wear cotton liners under them, and make sure to change them often. For skin repair, try O’Keefe’s Working Hands, Aquaphor, or CeraVe Cream.

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