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Winter Weather Wreaks Havoc on Hands & Lips

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It's cold out there, really cold...and snowy. This is the kind of nasty winter weather that damages your delicate epidermis no matter how well you cover up. And when you come inside, the dry heat and low humidity do additional damage. Add to that all the hand washing we are supposed to do to prevent catching colds and flu, and you have a recipe for rough knuckles, cracked fingertips and sandpaper skin.

If you find you are continuously licking your lips because they feel rough, dry and chapped, there is a possibility that the "stick" you are smearing on them might be adding to your winter woes. Many products contain sunscreen, which can be sensitizing for some people. Others have menthol, camphor or phenol, which can temporarily cool and anesthetize the lips, but can later lead to redness or drying in susceptible people.

So, what's the solution for dry, cracked fingertips, sandpaper skin and dry lips? Below, you will find stories and solutions from visitors to this website. What works for one person may be totally wrong for someone else. That's why we have provided a range of remedies. Share your own experience below in the comment section.


"I've suffered from cracked fingers for several years now. I am a preschool teacher, so not only do I wash my hands a lot, I'm always making and playing with play dough, painting or using other such materials with the children. I've tried many different kinds of lotions and treatments and nothing seems to work. I have jars and tubes of Corn Huskers, Aquaphor, Aveeno Hand Cream, Eucerin and the list goes on.

"We have 'teacher soap' at school that is not antibacterial and I put lotion on each time I wash my hands. Liquid Bandage has been helpful; even though the cracks don't heal, Liquid Bandage keeps them from bleeding and the cracks don't get deeper." K.J.L.


"Start at the source of why your hands are dry and cracking... drying soaps and dry air. Bring your own soap to school. Bar soaps are better than liquid for dry skin. I LOVE Neolia, an olive oil-based soap. It is hard to find in stores but you can get it direct from the manufacturer. Or try Cetaphil, a skin-cleansing lotion that doesn't contain soap or detergent.

"Always wear gloves when washing dishes or working with any kind of detergent. Use a humidifier in your home and the classroom. Ointments are the most moisturizing over creams and lotions. I prefer Aquaphor Healing Ointment. My dad says Burt Bee's Shea Butter Hand Repair Creme and Hand Salve are excellent. Good luck!" Candice


"WOW! I was glad to hear that my struggle with cracked fingertips is not so uncommon. I struggle to button shirts or pants (I wear broadfall pants [19th century Amish style pants] and fastening the suspenders is painful!) Thanks for the info." Dale


"I have had this problem for at least 20 years every winter. I saw a dermatologist who suggested super glue for the cracks. That got rid of the pain but left the cracked skin so rough it was worse than ever.

"I have bought just about every lotion for 'rough and cracked skin' and none have worked. The only relief I get is when the humidity goes up and the cracks close somewhat. Some people suggest rubbing ChapStick into the cracks. I will try that." Barbara


"When I have had this type of really dry skin I used pure lanolin. It comes in a tube and can be found at some pharmacies. It takes very little at a time, but used regularly, especially at night, will soften the skin and prevent a recurrence." Gayle


"Wool Wax Creme works within three days to eliminate the cracking. It is a lovely cream. It's good, it's inexpensive, it's a cottage industry product and IT WORKS." Judy


"My husband used to have cracked skin on his hands every winter. One year we realized he was using a lotion with lanolin on his dry hands in the winter. He is allergic to wool. He stopped using lotion with lanolin and has not had cracked skin since." M.A.F.


"A sure cure for cracked fingertips is to take flaxseed oil. I use the 1200 mg softgels. Since taking these I do not get the cracked fingertips any more. Nothing worked before, including many prescriptions from doctors." D.K.


"The best thing is to moisturize following each hand washing, to prevent the problem. I like to put a small amount of olive oil on my cuticles; massage it in, followed by any good, thick moisture cream. The cream mixes nicely with the oil, aiding the absorption. 
If I neglect to do this even once during the winter, I get the cracks and split cuticles." T.S.


"I used to have at least 4 fingers cracked all the time. It turned out that if I wore cotton gloves when reading the newspapers every time I picked one up, I never cracked again. I do get dryer hands in winter but the cracks were from the acid or ink in the paper." Nancy


"I have three painfully cracked fingers right now and it's hard to even type, dig in my purse or even button my shirt. Thanks for all your tips..." Laura


"I had hard, peeling, cracking skin on 3 fingers for over 1 year. Nothing would work. Then I heard about figs. I ate about seven of them and two days later my skin was mostly healed with no more abnormal growth!" K.B.


"I accidentally discovered that the cracks on my fingertips foamed markedly when I got 3% hydrogen peroxide on them. If I apply H2O2 every morning, the cracks may or may not foam, but they never open up or cause trouble. Not a cure, but 100% effective control. My best guess is that the cracks are playing host to some organism that produces catalase (which makes H2O2 foam), and the peroxide kills it, or inhibits the production or activity of some enzyme that weakens the tissue." Mark


"I too, have suffered for many years with cracked and bleeding finger tips - you can imagine what that does to a guitarist/violinist. Last New Year's Day, I swore off diet sodas -- amazingly, the finger cracking ceased for the most part. Now, if I have even a couple of diet pops a week, I can expect cracked skin for a few days subsequent. Thanks for all the other tips!" K.R.H.


"I do not have serious eczema but it arises periodically on my hands. I have tried all of the remedies that I know of, including dietary restrictions. The one that cleared my eczema quickly and thoroughly was Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20, with 20% Urea. I was amazed at the almost instant pain relief, followed by total clearing within a few days.

"The Udderly Smooth cream without the urea was good for simple dry skin but didn't cure the eczema. I ordered this product for those on my Christmas list and highly recommend it to anyone with eczema or any other skin problem. Thank you, once again, People's Pharmacy!" TTPOL


"I discovered Udderly Smooth Cream this winter. My fingers were so cracked. The Udder Cream is the only thing that has really helped. No more cracked fingers and my hands are very soft now." P.G.


"I am a needlework and quilt designer. Working with threads and fabrics take a toll on my hands; plus I have dry skin. I've been using Udderly Smooth Udder Cream for years. Since I started using it I have not had problems with cracked fingers. Plus, I think it helps my fingernails, which is an added benefit. It is also non-greasy, so I can work with my threads and fabrics without leaving a greasy mark. My husband loves it too!" Karen


"I never had chapped lips, but started using one of the more famous products only to find my lips were MORE chapped after using this product than before. I believe this product had something in it that promoted dry lips, hence you would buy more of it. Once I stopped using this product, my chapped lips healed. I use regular Vaseline at night now if I experience any dryness. Never happened again." J.A.


"I used ChapStick with SPF protection for years. I felt like I was dependent on it. Someone suggested that an ingredient in ChapStick caused this and recommended that I switch to Burt's Bees or some other more natural lip balm. I switched, but I don't notice any difference." M.B.R.


"I applied the Udderly Smooth Extra Care Cream with 20% urea at night before bed. The spider vein patches began to fade in 2 weeks and were almost totally gone in another 3 weeks. My doctor was surprised at the results and assumed it was due to the keratolytic action of the urea on the superficial veins." R.L.M.


We hope one or more of these suggestions from visitors to this website helps you with your sandpaper skin, cracked finger tips and dry lips.

We are offering a super sale on our Winter Skin Survival Kit from The People's Pharmacy. It contains 4 People's Pharmacy Pomegranate Natural Lip balms plus 2 Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 tubes with 20% urea. Keep a tube in your pocketbook or jacket pocket and one in the kitchen or bathroom.

To take advantage of this super sale, click on this link. The retail cost of the 4 lip balms and 2 Udderly Smooth tubes is $23.94. The 30% discount is automatically computed in the shopping cart so you will save $7.18 on each order. Let us know how they work and don't forget to share your own secret to surviving the winter weather.

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I've had eczema for YEARS... painful and unsightly... I have learned to always wear gloves... I won't even wipe the counters or wash A coffee cup without them, not worth it... an outbreak can last months and be SO hard to get over, and Rx from the dr only makes things worse!!! makes my hands like hard plastic, then crack and bleed and worse. Best things, Aveeno, Avon Care Deeply, Neutrogena Eczema Cream... best thing to do is TRY to avoid problems, I live in South Florida but BIG on hand washing. Good Luck to all sufferers... it's no fun!

I find that 100% shea butter helps my hands (but you have to massage it into the skin). For lips, I do "horse lips" several times a day, which brings blood to the area. I still use lip balm, but much less so than before I instituted the "horse lips" practice.

Olive oil or straight Vitamin E oil (not just the lotions with Vitamin E oil as an ingredient in them).

Some years ago I used a product called Lanolin Plus on my hands. They always seemed so dry. By the process of elimination, I discovered that lanolin was irritating to me! Then, for many years I used Blistex in my lips constantly and they were always dry so I used more. One day, read the tiny type for ingredients and one if them was lanolin. Went back to good old Chapstick and it was just great. Check ingredients on what you are using and keep trying.

If you use super glue, which works wonderfully, you MUST first sanitize the crack and then use the glue and push the opening/crack closed. I also suggest using cleanser, saline or salt and then the super glue. I've done this for years and have had excellent results. Turned to Neosporin Eczema lotion a couple of years ago and have found great results. I used to be a school teacher and found that the chalk was a huge problem. If I could have worn plastic gloves, it would have been better!

I noticed that some lip balms made my chapped lips worse, rough and raw from my nose to my chin. Then I remembered that my mother is allergic to lanolin (sheep's wool oil). Once I stopped using products with lanolin, the problem went away. One day my son kept licking his lips and I told him to stop licking them and to put something on his lips. He replied that it just made his lips worse. I bought him several lip balms without lanolin and his problem was solved. No other family members are allergic, just the three of us. Now I always read ingredient lists for anything I use.

I used to have very dry lips and skin in winter. I take omega fish oil every day and have for several years.

My skin remains soft and supple all year around. If my lips get a little dry, I use pure coconut oil.

Proper nutrition and supplementation, will go a long way to preventing all these problems. I'm 73 years young and live in Oregon.

I am a nurse so with the constant hand washing & the antibacterial hand gel I get cracks at the corners of my thumb nails. Besides being painful, I am always afraid of catching a nasty bug. I clean the area first and use several thin coats of super glue-after I apply the super glue I quickly blot the glue with a paper towel (quickly so that you don't have paper towel stuck to you finger). If the area is rough I smooth it with a fine nail file. I usually use 2 or 3 thin coats of super glue and reapply as needed.

My hands were chapped/bleeding, deep cracks on the corners of my fingers, etc. I did use super glue on the cracks of my fingers. My fingers would burn when applying the glue and eventually open up again. I finally found 2 creams that have eliminated my problem: Bag Balm and No-Crack hand cream. I use Bag Balm at night with gloves (little greasy) and the No-Crack cream during the day (absorbs into the skin quickly). You do not need to buy both. If your hands are very chapped, I would start off with the Bag Balm. Have not had a problem since using these miracle creams!

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