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Lately my husband has started constantly rubbing his hands, fingers and knuckles. He’s been putting lotion on and holding his hands under water, sometimes washing them sometimes just letting the water run on them. I’ve tried to distract him and told him he’s going to cause dryness but he doesn’t seem to be able to help himself. Last night I noticed some of his knuckles are rubbed raw and are very red and sore looking. I put on Neosporin and gauze and they didn’t look quite as angry this morning. However he took the bandages off and is doing it again and they look awful. Any one else have this issue and if so how are you dealing with it? I feel awful that it probably hurts him yet he can’t seem to stop.

Bag balm might help.
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Reply to Getkicksonrte66
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Get some rx ointment from a dermatologist and MAKE him wear gloves. Also remember that the skin thins as one ages so try to not have an infection take hold.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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My dad does the same thing. He's always been fidgety but it's worse now as he ages. It's anxiety in his case, OCD. But they have something for that. Google "sensory toys'
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Reply to Stephanie4181
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Somethingelsa, I'd keep in mind that you aren't nagging him, you are protecting him. And, I'd also keep in mind that you can't expect him to remember to not rub his hands. It's not a matter of him deciding to do it against advice, it's that he either doesn't remember or he can't control it. So, relying on his word that he won't do it is not helpful or reliable. Only direct supervision would ensure that he doesn't do it.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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Somethingelsa Apr 24, 2019
You’re certainly right about it not being nagging but protecting . Thank you for reminding me of that .
I hope I didn’t give anyone the impression that I’m relying on his memory in any way . I certainly am way beyond that and sure don’t rely on his remembering not to or why . I’m just finding that when I gently touch him while he’s doing it he understands and stops for a bit which is really great for that particular moment. As of now I’m employing so much of the kind advice I’ve been given on this site and it’s all contributing to his hands being much improved .
Now I suppose we wait until the next new issue .
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My dad was doing that too. His doctor prescribed a low dose of Fluoxetine. He’s behaviors have improved.
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Reply to Qwerty
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My mother starting picking at her face and other exposed skin on her forearms and neck. It seemed like a nervous habit at first but it quickly became a constant source of concern. I asked the nurses to keep her nails cut short which helped but ONLY when the nurses remembered to do it. Mom hesitated to let me do it since she thought it was the nurse's job. She still managed to pick and ended up with an infection on her face. The physician had increased her antidepressant so he finally added Wellbutrin and that way the answer! Her skin cleared up really fast and I could tell that she felt better, in general. I hope this helps. Speak up to the physician and ask for him/her to act now!
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Reply to CindyRN
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I wonder if those cool pack sachets - I'm describing them badly, what are they called - little packets of gel, you stick them in the freezer and use them for lunch boxes and what have you. Aaaarggh, senior moment!

[back from Google - well I'm glad it's not just me, nobody else seems to have decided what they're called either! Mini ice packs, freezer packs, cool packs or whatever - the things that you put in with your sandwiches.]

Anyway, those: I wonder if something cool to hold might soothe him and stop him rubbing? Not frozen, in case he burns himself, you could keep them in the fridge.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Somethingelsa Apr 23, 2019
Another great idea . I’m so glad I posted that question . I have a couple of those wrap around whatever they’re called 😂 in my freezer that I put on his knees when they act up . I’m definitely going to try them on his hands and knuckles .
I also purchased a kind of putty that people squeeze to calm them and keep their hands occupied . He’s also so aware of doing it now that when I
just say “ honey ?” he tries so hard to stop . Kind of breaks my heart but so much of what’s going on does that . Oh well there is so much more good than bad so it’s all OK .
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Is your husband able to say whether his hands are mainly sore, or mainly itchy? Is there anything to see, especially on the skin between his fingers?

I agree that repetitive/obsessional behaviours do fit the dementia pattern, but I'd also want to rule out:

urticaria or nettle rash, which you get as a reaction to some toxins and allergens

some kind of eczema, which is notorious for that horrific itch-scratch-itch cycle that's so hard to break (Betnovate worked for me, though I know steroids aren't for everyone)

mites or other mini-beasts burrowing under the skin, which he could have picked up from all sorts of places

The other things that itch like the very devil and are painful too are chilblains, but I assume you'd have spotted those?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Somethingelsa Apr 22, 2019
I’ve checked very carefully and I haven’t noticed anything other than what he’s rubbed sore himself . I hate to nag him to stop but what has slowed it down is that I reminded him that diabetics don’t heal well so to be a little more careful . That seemed to get through so when I put my hand gently on his to stop rubbing he does seem to stop for a bit .
Thank you
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Sometimes, with dementia, repetitive behaviors, compulsions, obsessions are common. I'd discuss it with his doctor. Sometimes, medication can ease these compulsions. Providing him with something else to fidget with is also a good idea. Since, it's really bothering him, I'd discuss it with his doctor, but, I might explore removing the water source. Like, cutting off the water so, he can't run it and put his hands into it. Or locking off the rooms that have a water source. I'd discuss this with his doctor though, and do it with their guidance. If his is self harming and you can't manage it, I'd ask for professional help.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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It is possible that he is having an allergic reaction, they manifest themselves in the oddest ways.

I would mix up some jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, lavender essential oil and some vitamin e.

This will heal his skin, minimize dryness from water and the lavender will help promote calmness and help against infection.

Do 50/50 sweet almond oil, then add 20 drops vitamin e per ounce of above and lavender at least 10 drops but it is safe to add as much as you like for the lavender smell to be stronger. Use as an oil or blend with an immersion blender for cream. This will leave a coating on the skin that will not wash off with the 1st wash. You might find yourself using it, it is so lovely.

If he has arthritis you can pull some of this out and add clove oil, wintergreen oil and peppermint oil this will create a nice penetrating heat and cool. I would also find a good MSM/chondroitin/glucosamine supplement for him to help give his joints the nutrition to feel better.

Depending on his history, you could try meditation balls. They are half dollar size metal balls that you twirl in one hand. You can find all of this at a good health oriented store or better yet, order off line and save a bunch of money.

I hope you find something that stops this behavior.

Hugs to you.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Somethingelsa Apr 22, 2019
Wow I just took a screen shot of this great looking “recipe” something I definitely will try for him .Sounds like I will use it as well . I’ve learned , since he finds music so comforting , to enjoy an escape with music myself so these oils sound like a win win for both of us .
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You might try a fidget blanket. They are helpful for focusing fidgeting and avoiding potentially harmful behaviors.
They sell fidget blankets on Amazon.
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Reply to Restlessremedy
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Maybe he needs more to do?  Is it a boredom thing?  How about a Senior Day Center for ALZ/Dementia clients, a few days a week?  Be sure you find one where the clients are at different levels in their disease so he'll have someone to talk to and make sure they have a lot of different activities throughout the day.  My mom attends one in Rocklin CA and it's been a blessing.  Best of Luck!
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Reply to Jessica40
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Somethingelsa Apr 22, 2019
Thank you. Right now we’re pretty busy visiting and being visited by children and grandchildren . The granddaughters are very into doing activities with him which is great .
I will definitely keep that in mind for the future tho .
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Something else, I found this item that could be helpful. https://www.agingcare.com/products/twiddle-therapy-fidget-aid-445244.htm
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Reply to freqflyer
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Somethingelsa Apr 22, 2019
That looks great . It also helps to know that obviously he’s not alone in this issue . Helpful for me as well as for some reason it comforts me to know that this is just another symptom of the disease and not such an uncommon one .
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My husband scratches to the point of bleeding. When I bathe him, chances are I’ll find that while I’ve been at work, he’s scratched a new place raw. Then he denies it even though I can see what I call his “claw”marks. He is at risk for infection and I have threatened to put those baby mitts on
him and tie them around his wrists so he can’t scratch himself. Would your husband wear cotton gloves?

When my mother was in a facility, there was a woman who carried dolls around. Sometimes I think these constant, repetitive things they do is like that.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Somethingelsa Apr 21, 2019
Let me put it this way . He probably would try to wear the gloves but it wouldn’t last very long .
I do agree that these repetitive things , whatever they are , are all part of this strange disease . It breaks my heart tho when I see that he’s hurting himself . When I point it out he really tries to stop but obviously it’s beyond his control .
Thank you so much the suggestion tho . It certainly won’t hurt to try it .
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Have you tried any “porcupine balls” or “textured worm balls” or “Stress balls”? 
My cousin who is “Mentally Challenged”, has a large 8 inch “porcupine ball” that she “giggles” for hours and hours.  It is one way to keep her occupied while her parents are busy working in their home offices.  

Maybe a plastic toy set like those you would give a 2 or 3 year old--large plastic cars or trucks with wheels that move, large plastic building blocks that your husband can stack over and over, etc.  Look in the Toy  Department for plastic toys that are safe and will keep his hands busy.
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Reply to DeeAnna
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Somethingelsa Apr 20, 2019
Thank you ! I think the stress ball idea is great . He mainly does this when we’re not out or doing activities of some sort , for instance when he’s watching TV or we’re just sitting outside on the patio . Porcupine balls and stress balls sound ideal .
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Could he be having pain in his knuckles due to arthritis, have you tries something like myoflex or voltaren?
Maybe putting on some gloves will offer some protection from the rubbing, tell him that keeping his joints warm will make them feel better.
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Reply to cwillie
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Somethingelsa Apr 20, 2019
That’s very possible as he does have arthritis. Never thought of that or of using that type of ointment . I probably will try and heal that rawness first and then try it . Thank you so much . Great idea !
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