The human hand, regarded either with reference to its ingenious construction and usefulness, or to its beauty, stands alone, in its superlative excellence, in the whole animal world. In no species of animal is the hand so wonderfully formed and so perfectly developed as in man.
To preserve the delicacy and beauty of the hands, some little care, and more than that which is ordinarily bestowed on them, is required.
Remedy for Chapped Hands
The simplest remedy is the camphor ball, to be obtained of all chemists. Powdered hemlock bark put into a piece of muslin and sprinkled on the chaps is highly recommended. Or, wash with oatmeal, and afterwards rub the hands over with dry oatmeal, so as to remove all dampness. It is a good thing to rub the hands and lips with glycerine before going to bed at night. A good oil is made by simmering: Sweet oil, one pint; Venice turpentine, three ounces; lard, half a pound; beeswax, three ounces. Simmer till the wax is melted. Rub on, or apply with a rag.
Almond Paste for Chapped Hands (which will preserve them smooth and white)
The daily use of the following paste will keep the hands smooth and white: Mix a quarter of a pound of unsalted hog’s lard, which has been washed in common, and then in rose, water, with the yolks of two fresh eggs and a large spoonful of honey. Add as much paste from almonds (well pounded in a mortar) as will work it into a paste.
Roughness of the Hands, induced by exposure to cold and drying winds, may, in general, be removed by the use of a little powdered pumice stone with the soap in washing them. The subsequent application, particularly at night, of the above lotions, or of two or three drops of almond or olive oil, well rubbed in, will usually effect the object completely.
The hands may be preserved dry for delicate work by rubbing a little club moss (lycopodium), in fine powder, over them. So repellent is this substance of moisture, that if a small quantity of it be sprinkled on the surface of a basin of water, the hand, by a little adroitness, may be plunged to the bottom of the basin without becoming wet.
Excessive moisture or perspiration of the hands without obvious cause is generally indicative of debility, or disordered stomach, and requires corresponding treatment. Frequently washing the hands in moderately cold water often proves a local remedy for the inconvenience. The addition of a few grains of alum, sal ammoniac, or sulphate of zinc, or of a teaspoonful of vinegar, to the water greatly increases its efficacy. Extremely delicate and susceptible persons cannot always bear the excessive perspiration of their hands to be thus suddenly lessened, and therefore some discretion should be exercised by them in their attempts to check it.
Foremost in consideration must be the subject of cleanliness. Dirty and coarse hands are no less marks of slothfulness and lowbreeding than clean and delicate hands are of refinement and gentility. To promote softness and whiteness of the skin, mild emollient soaps, or those abounding in oil or fat, should alone be adopted for common use; by which means the tendency to contract chaps and chilblains, and roughness from drying winds, will also be lessened.
The coarse, strong kinds of soap, those abounding in alkali, should be rejected, as they tend to render the skin rough, dry and brittle. Rain, or soft, water is the best natural water for washing the hands, as it cleanses them more rapidly and completely than ordinary hard water, and with the use of less soap. It may be advantageously used tepid, or even warm; but hot water should be avoided. Distilled water, when obtainable, is preferable to even rainwater. In the absence of these, water that has been boiled and allowed to settle and cool may be employed.
With hard water, the hands are cleansed with difficulty, and though it may be readily softened by the addition of a little soda, such an addition tends to make the skin of a delicate hand somewhat hard and rough. If hard water must be used to wash with, the only harmless substance that can be conveniently added to it is a little good powdered borax. This will also cause it to exert a genial action on the skin. Oatmeal and warm water used every night and morning as a wash will whiten and soften the roughest and darkest hands.