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Healing Split Fingertips

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Q. Every winter, my wife and I are bedeviled by split skin on the tips of our fingers--tiny cuts that are painful. Can you give us suggestions for not getting them?

A. Split fingertips are common. If regular moisturizing is not enough, apply Vicks VapoRub  or Aquaphor before bed and wear cotton photographer’s gloves to protect the sheets. Liquid bandage on the cuts may help them heal faster.

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36 Comments

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Rub lip balm in split several times a day to heal it.

Since I have begun eating 1 gram of fish oil every day, I have had very little problem with dry skin anywhere on my body. My hands/face/feet are especially soft and supple. During the past summer season I was eating a concentrated form of fish oil with more DHA/DEA Swimming was causing small patches of dry skin on my palms. switching back regular strength fish body oil has reversed this. I wish I had known about the value of fish oil when I was in high school and suffered from cracking fingers and palms every winter throughout junior and senior high.
Thanks.

We have benefited from all of the above suggestions, but most of all, the addition of more omega 3's to our diet have done the trick. We take a daily supplement called Coromega (it actually tastes good). It supplies 2000 mg. fish oil, 650 mg. omega-3 fatty acids and both EPA AND DHA. There are other excellent supplements on the market - this one comes in a squeezable packet and tastes great. We buy it from Vitamin Shoppe, and it's very reasonable.

I have had the same problem for years and I found that if I keep the area that cracks sealed away from the cold dry air, that would solve the problem. I use super glue. Just apply it to the problem area before it cracks and it drys in an instant. That took care of my problem.

Had the same problem and bag balm cleared it up. Use several times a day.

I love natural shea butter with no additives. Look for it in African shops in mid to large cities and on the internet. If it's the real thing -- it's inexpensive, smells nutty, is very thick and a yellowish hue. Great humectant, emollient and anti-inflammatory.

Even though I take Omega-3 fish oil (pharmaceutical grade) regularly, I still occasionally get cracked fingertips and knuckles. Liquid bandage usually speeds the healing process, but one early this winter that was very close to a nail bed just wouldn't respond. What finally healed it up was pure emu oil rubbed in nightly just before going to bed. I use it every night now and haven't had one since.

Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula hand cream is excellent for splits/cracks in fingers - can highly recommend.

I used to suffer with small painful cracks such as these on my finger tips and knuckles when it was cold. No longer. The simple inexpensive solution: Before going out in the cold, rub on a thin coating of Vaseline.

Because the solvent in epoxy glues is so toxic I've been reluctant to put super glue on my skin. Is super glue toxic or is it safe like liquid bandages?

I swim three times a week and since last year I've been taking fish oil. All the skin on my body is in much better shape.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: LIQUID BANDAGE PRODUCTS ARE DESIGNED TO BE PUT ON THE SKIN, WHILE INSTANT GLUE IS NOT. THE BASIC ADHESIVE IS, HOWEVER, RATHER SIMILAR.

A product called Zim's Crack Cream worked for me. Try it.

I'm a prof. massage therapist, every winter I suffer from many cracked fingertips. I've tried many of the suggestions, take 3 grams fish oil daily, still suffer. I speed healing by dabbing Vaseline, then putting bandage tape around it. I once tried the liquid bandage, sealed in a germ, finger became infected and had to have finger lanced.

My husband was bothered with extremely painful fingertip cracks, especially in the winter.His hands were also rough with thickened skin that kept peeling. He tried every topical salve and hand cream to no avail.
Not until his doctor prescribed an anti fungal pill for his athlete's foot did he start to see a complete improvement of not only the athlete's foot, but the hand cracks which turned out to be fungal in nature.

When I get those cracks on my fingertips that are so painful, I've found that Instant Bandage and a band-aid or waterproof tape help heals it up. That keeps it clean and sealed from dry air.

I've had success with bees wax.

I clean and dry the split area and apply a drop of crazy glue. Rub hands with plain glycerin from pharmacy; particularly before bed. Cheap and works great.

A dermatologist recommended the air plane glue to me and it has worked like a charm. Immediate relief. I definitely recommend it!

Cracked, splitting, dry fingers is very common. Look for a possible cause behind the problem such as cold weather, fungal infections, dish washing detergents, handling paper (money, newspaper, books) to mention a few. The paper used in newspaper takes the oil out of your finger tips quickly so if you read a lot this may be causing your problem.

Moisturizers help but may not be enough. Although cosmetically unappealing, plain vaseline applied at bedtime and wearing a cotton glove to prevent your linens will help. Vaseline will seal in and prevent the loss of moisture from your fingers. Try this nightly for a week or so and then as needed.

I've had great luck using the lanolin product designed for nursing mothers to use on cracked nipples. It's very thick, so it doesn't come off easily and protects from the elements.

I have this cracked skin really badly on my left middle finger. Occasionally it teases some of the other fingers, but never becomes full blown as it is on this one. It get flaky and almost peels, sometimes kinda hard and sometimes just super tender and painful to touch anything. It's SO frustrating. I'm a stay at home momma and I have lots of things to do! I am going to try some of these suggestions, does anyone think probiotics might help?

Every winter I have the same cracked finger tips--painful. I have tried all these tricks except the super glue. Recently I found a product that helped a little--Neutrogena Skinaid. It did especially help if put on at bed time.

I have suffered from these cracks for years. Liquid bandaids are ok, but painful. I recommend sleeping with a cold air vaporizer next to the bed. I started this over a month ago, and haven't had any cracks since. And every night has been well below freezing.

An existing crack will feel better if Vaseline is applied several times a day -- it softens the skin around the crack so that it's not so painful.

I use carmex on my fingertips and nails before bed. It really helps fight the dry cracked cuticles that plague me during the drier months or when I am working with my hands excessively. Sometimes twice a day is necessary if conditions are very bad.

I recently read about another person with our fingertip pealing problem, that he tried drinking more glasses of water each day (6-8 glasses. The theory is that the water will help hydrate your body and thus bring more moisture to your fingertips. I tried it during the past week and it cleared up 90% of it. It does work for me and I expect to see the other 10% clear up this week. I would like others to try this and let me know if you get the same results. Water does not cost much and it seems to work on me. Just trying to reach out to all and to share this possible solution for an annoying issue.

I think the water more likely flushes the toxins out of your kidneys and liver--I happen to think the absolute saturation of preservatives in our food is creating a lot of these problems.

I had such a hard time for years, my fingertips would spontaneously gap open in little cuts, and it was so painful. Also embarrassing, with bandaids on more than two fingers, looks weird.

I finally figured out what it was, it was the stuff I was putting on my hair, a straightening gel before and after ironing my hair. Seems like I would have figured it out before, but it doesn't happen right away, it lags 8 to 12 hours after using it. And I didn't use it all the time. Just some days. Most days just a very little bit,
too little to trigger the cuts. I thought it was the dishwashing detergent, but it was this stuff. From now on I will only buy stuff that has a low rating on the Skin Deep database. Best wishes to everyone.

I live in cold, dry Colorado and had this problem for years. When I was prescribed 3000 mg of fish oil by my doctor for my high cholesterol, and I changed to a cocoa butter hand lotion, my cracked fingers went away.

I have had these for years - always in the winter. Recently, I started taking fish oil (in liquid form, a refrigerated tasty version) and amazingly, my cuts have gone away!

Hi, I've tried everything to stop these painful bleeding cracks in my thumbs. Now I am getting small ones in my fingers.

I am an amputee and wondered if it was caused by bad circulation. Anyway I will try all your ideas and let you know what works. Usually I'll be sitting out in my garden some time in June and it will occur to me that the cracks are gone. Maybe I should just give up on winter..
Cheers to all, Don

The skin around my nails becomes dry and rough, and within a few days the skin will crack open. I've found that using a nail file to smooth away the rough skin helps to avoid the cracking, but if the cracks still appear I put on a dab of Polysporin and a bandaid at night, the crack usually heals within a day or two.

The best relief for cracked skin is crazy glue! They use it in hospitals on kids who have the need for stitches but can't get the area stitched. I paint it on and get instant relief from the throbbing pain.
Hope this helps!
CMR

I thought I read about these tiny cuts in a recent (2011) column. What struck me was ibuprofen was mentioned. Well, I had switched from acetaminophen to ibuprofen (believing the Advil commercials where you only needed to take two pills or less dosage), and I too had been waking up with painful paper type cuts.

As soon as I switched back, I no longer have these cuts. And it's not because it's winter and/or my hands are dry, because I use Vaseline healthy hand & nail conditioning hand lotion a lot through out the year. So, for me for some reason, ibuprofen was causing paper cuts.

I work outside during all the seasons. During the winter months my fingertips crack leaving a split/gap that is 10x more painful than a deep papercut. I need the use of my fingers immediately so I use super glue. This brings instant relief and heals the split quickly.

Hi jm.
What anti-fungal medication worked please.
Mp

I have been dealing with split finger tips for many Winters. I tried many remedies but best relief is weeks vacaction in Florida. Within a week, all cuts are completely healed and fingers feel great.

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