What causes “asbestos hands” for those who work professionally in kitchens?


What causes “asbestos hands” for those who work professionally in kitchens?

In: Biology

Becoming desensitized to heat over time, building up callouses and thicker finger pads due to wear-and-tear, and a little bit of damage here and there causing your nerve endings to have a lessened response to the kinds of pain you deal with on a daily basis.

The human body can get accustomed to some pretty crazy things, and heat is just one of them.

As with most recurring skin damage that happens, if you cause small amounts of stress to an area, it will protect it with a thicker coating directly in the area of regular damage.

Fun fact: the protein responsible for making your palms and soles tough is the reason they’re also mostly without pigment. It restricts those cells from forming pigment.

Getting burned over and over again.

I used to work in the kitchen of a ‘fast casual’ restaurant. You get burned all the time – you are constantly pulling hot plates out of the expo window, pulling cooking dishes out of the oven, pulling food and pans off of the stove. You get burned over and over again.

Over time, your body adapts – you develop callouses that protect you from the heat and you start to lose heat sensitivity in your hands (which I assume is due to nerve damage). This allows you to touch things that other people wouldn’t be able to hold – partly because you have protection and partly because you just can’t feel it anymore.

I haven’t worked in that kitchen in almost 20 years and I _still_ don’t have great heat sensitivity in my fingers.