Why does the skin on my fingers feel so tight and dry?
If you’ve ever peeled and cut a butternut squash, you might have had this happen and wondered how to get squash residue off your hands. The residue creates a film that dries and tightens your skin, something like a peel-off facial mask. Except this film does not peel off, and it doesn’t wash off with a normal washing.
What is this film?
This problem can occur with several foods including squashes, pumpkins, zucchini, and even cucumber. From what I’ve read, it is caused by a sort of sap that the fruit emits when it is cut, and it’s worse in fruits that aren’t fully ripe. (Fruit is used in the botanical sense.)
Have you ever cut the end of a zucchini and noticed beads of clear liquid building up on the cut end? That’s the sap trying to dry out and protect the cut end. It has the same drying and sealing effect on your skin.
I recently had a couple of squashes to cook, including a really big one. When I was done, I noticed that the problem was worse than ever. I even rinsed or washed my hands several times throughout the process of peeling and cutting.
Next time, I plan to go the route of prevention and simply wear gloves when I work with the squash (if I remember!). But if you already have squash residue stuck on your hands, that doesn’t do you any good.
Ways to Remove Squash Residue
A really stick tape, such as packing tape, can work to lift the film off your fingers. I have read that this film is not a residue but actually your skin which peels off. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with me. Although my skin does get dry from the residue, it does not peel.
And when I use tape, I can see the orange film that sticks to the tape as well as what remains on my skin. It will get splotchy looking, but my skin remains intact and normal (not a pink under layer).
While tape works, it’s a bit time consuming, and you have to use a strong, sticky tape. I reserve this method as a backup or step 2.
The first time I noticed the problem being particularly bad, I happened to wash some dishes by hand. I like to wash them the old fashioned way in a dish pan with warm soapy water, so my hands got a good soaking. When I was done, I realized the film was mostly gone.
Since then I have tested this method out. If you don’t have a lot (or any) dishes to do, simply soak your hands in warm soapy water for about 5 minutes. Then scrub them with the scrubby side of a sponge. Be sure to scrub any surface area that had the film on it. You can soak your hands longer and less scrubbing will be required.
After soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, dry your hands and check for any spots that are still remaining. You can either scrub those spots some more or use the tape method to lift off those few remaining areas of film.
- I have read about people soaking their hands in a lemon and/or vinegar solution. But that seems harsh on the skin, and I haven’t tried it.
- I’ve only tried soaking in soapy water. It’s possible that soaking in warm water alone would be enough.
- I tried scrubbing without soaking and that didn’t work. I even tried my husband’s pumice hand cleaner which is very abrasive, and it did very little.
Do you have this problem and have you found a solution that works? I’d love to hear your experience.