Very dry skin

Q. Every year during the winter months, I have a problem with my thumbs cracking at the edge of my thumbnails. It takes weeks for them to heal, and the cracks are very painful. They do not respond to any crack creams or lotions. They clear up on their own only to reappear a few weeks later. They look exactly like a cut, but they hurt a lot more. What can you suggest? Winter is almost here!

A. Many people find that liquid bandage can help protect these fingertip splits so they can heal more quickly. Here’s another reader’s report on this problem:

“It can be extremely painful just doing everyday things: washing dishes, picking up small objects, buttoning clothes or writing. The only thing that gives me any relief has been instant glue. My doctor said I could use it as long as it wasn’t a big, gaping wound. The glue gets hard enough to protect the cuts, keeps out water, dirt, bacteria and stays on just long enough to let my cut heal from the inside out and then it peels off.”

We are sending you our Guide to Skin Care and Treatment for many more suggestions on healing cracked fingertips and dry skin.

Although you have not been satisfied with any ointments or lotions, other readers have found some that help:

“I am an artist. Since I turned 50, my fingertips would split and bleed whenever I handled paper, worked in the garden or washed too often. It was almost impossible to put any kind of pressure on my fingers. I was wearing bandages on my fingertips and feeling debilitated.

Since treating them with Vicks, my hands have stopped splitting and bleeding. They had been so sore I had trouble doing any fine finger work. I conclude my fingers must also have had a fungal infection and the oils in the VapoRub have helped my skin stay whole.”

“I work outside at night in the coldest of cold nights in Minnesota. What works best is Vaseline applied several times during the night. When I get home I apply it liberally again and then put on inexpensive cotton gloves before bed. My sheets stay clean and my cuticles are pain free all winter long.”

“Alaska winters and caring for a toddler combine to wreak havoc on the same finger and both thumbs every winter. My current scheme is to cut the fingers off rubber gloves, apply large amounts of Aquaphor over the splits and wear the cut-off fingers of the gloves. I switch to full gloves whenever my hands are immersed in water or I’m using cleaning supplies. If I can’t use salve, I switch to liquid bandage.”

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  1. Brittany

    I’m 27 years old and my hands have looked at LEAST 20 years older than my age, for as long as I can remember. They are dry, wrinkled, and 90% of the time, painful. I lived in PA until a few months ago when I came to Louisiana, and here all my life I thought it was the cold, dry weather that caused my skin on my fingers to split open, but now that I am in the exact opposite climate, and I have a total of 8 splits on my fingertips, I’m going to blame this one on genetics. hah. I’m a waitress, an artist, and do different types of woodwork, I can’t afford to have my fingers like this! So recently I’ve been doing a lot of research on natural healing and have been making my own organic skin care products (no alcohol in them!). I came up with a good combination for these splits, and all of the ingredients can be found at walmart. – takes 5 min to make.
    Ingredients (and a few properties they have)
    – Vitamin E Oil – Helps sooth, hydrate, and balance skin, also helps reduce scarring and speeds healing
    – Castor Oil – Reduces scars and cracks/promotes the production of elastin and collage
    – 100% Aloe Vera Gel (the clear one) – it’s full of antioxidants that help your skin to be more firm and hold moisture better.
    – Tea Tree Essential Oil – because this is basically neck and neck with lavender as being one of the most useful and amazing oils.

    Well, the ratio of Aloe : Vitamin E : Castor = 2:1:1 and dilution for essential oils for adults is 10-12 drops per 1 oz. carrier. I use 1 oz. aloe, 1 Tbsp each of Vitamin E and Castor = 2 oz. =20-24 drops Tea Tree, put in a glass measuring cup in a pot of boiling water until the aloe melts and they begin to blend. It only takes about 2 minutes. Remove from water, let cool 5 min and what you do from here is completely up to you. I pour about 1/2 oz. ea into latex gloves, tape them around my wrists and carry about my business (or do it right before bed). you can feel the splits starting to heal almost immediately after application (and by heal, I mean, it burns)

    Hey I hope this helps! It definitely helps me

  2. Craig

    I have seen skin cracks & splits on my fingers, hands & knuckles a lot, from all the CELLULOSE additives that are in all drugs, supplements & even foods now, as I am seeing I can not eat foods that I use to eat 4 months ago. I have learned too that these cellulose materials are bad for thyroid health, which may now make sense to the problem I have with skin cracking & splitting on my hands. ALSO any RED TEAS are now toxic for me to drink, once my hands cleared up, I had some and BINGO the skin started cracking again. Takes forever to heal when you do not know what else causes this problem no matter how much water & vitamin C you take. If someone else knows more about this cracked & split skin condition, do not keep it top secret. ORGANIC FOODS are not always ORGANIC & ALL NATURAL.

  3. Sandy
    Newark DE

    Soooo painful!! I want to shout this from my roof top to end everyone’s misery I suffered (past tense) from the painful cracks on my fingertips! It is from washing your hands with Antibacterial Soap!!!! Throw it out!!!! I never use soap in restroom dispensers anymore knowing most certainly they are filled with ABS. I rinse my hands and wash at home. I never use anything that says antibacterial anymore. I have not had a crack since. 100% relief. If you have cracks now and use antibacterial soap, go wash your hands with regular soap. Use a nail brush to make sure you get it out from under you fingernails, and rinse well and heal. Take some vitamin C which greatly increases to healing process. And smile.


    Help!! Will try some of these suggestions….thank you

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