I've got skin problems from working in clay, have you ever heard of that? On your hands mainly?
I sure do.
Every once in a while I stay away from clay like the plague. My finger tips are raw, hurt to even type, and I know I can be in clay work for only about 15-30 minutes at a time. First it starts with an avoidance that has no real reason. Then I acknowledge it hurts to have clay drying on my fingers and hands.
I wonder if it's because I've been using reconstituted clay, which has had lots of time to sit there nice and wet and sometimes warm, maybe growing some nice micro-organisms. The slip and water I use also just sits there from day to day. But doesn't every potter do that?
For me, the clay gets into every crevice of my fingerprints, and just sucks out
any moisture. I lather on hand lotion after carefully washing all the
clay off. I admit I've found having 70 year old skin is much thinner and less resilient than it used to be.
But yesterday I got to the extreme, and wore plastic gloves over olive oil. It worked. It reconstituted the pads enough that I could work a bit on a sculpture.
I'm thinking of using aloe vera right off the plant leaves today. Again wearing a different pair of plastic gloves so I don't rub it all off in my daily moving around the house. I'll let you know how that works.
If you have suggestions, I'll be glad to try them too. (My preference isn't to buy the expensive potters lotions that I know might help also)