Q. I have been washing my hands so many times a day to avoid colds and flu that they are incredibly red and rough. My fingertips are cracked and split and it hurts to type on the computer. My hands don’t usually get this bad till the middle of winter. Normal moisturizers aren’t cutting it.

A. Many readers sing the praises of instant glue to seal cracked or split fingers. If you prefer pharmacy-grade glue, try Band-Aid brand or New Skin Liquid Bandage.

It sounds as if you need an industrial-strength moisturizer. Dermatologists often recommend Lac-Hydrin 12 percent, which is effective but pricey. Farmers have long used inexpensive products like Bag Balm and Udder Cream (a sponsor of our radio show) on their hands because they work well for chapped, red skin.

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  1. db

    I work in a busy kitchen and using the industrial dish washer all day my hands are sore from the liquid.. any suggestions? rubber gloves don’t work for me!!

  2. Jonathan

    Try washing your hands only with a mild cleanser (such as Dove), and after drying them, rub in some hand lotion (Nutraplus urea lotion is great, otherwise any of the common hand lotions will do).
    At bedtime, a heavier moisturizer (such as Nutrogena Norwegian Formula) can be rubbed in.
    Using an alcohol based hand rub (Purel etc) is an alternative to washing that can be kinder to the hands – nurses and doctors may use them 50 times a day, without any problems.

  3. RHS

    I had that problem and a friend introduced me to Shea Butter soap. Available many place in bar or liquid. I use liquid from a dispenser bottle bought at Wallgreens. No more dry skin or cracks on hands.

  4. CB

    I have suffered from split and cracked skin around my fingernails during the cold months for years. I also have very rough feet for which I use Kerasal ointment so I decided to try the same treatment to my fingers. I applied it lightly during the day and more heavily at night, when I covered my hands with cotton “spa” gloves to sleep. I had previously tried super glue, shea butter, Udder Cream – you name it, but this worked best for me. What a relief.

  5. Jean W.

    For our family, the secret to stopping cracked irritated skin due to frequent hand washing is to use a soap that does not contain Citric Acid or citrus products. It is very difficult to find liquid soap that does not use citric acid, but it is worth finding. However, many bar soaps are free of citric acid and citrus.
    Since using Citric acid/citrus free soap we no longer have to use moisturizer after hand washing. Hope this helps.

  6. jacqueline

    I too wash my hands umpteen times a day. The tips of my fingers crack and split, and bleed. I have found that chapstick works wonderfully. I apply the chap stick and then lotion. It also works on other places on my hands. Chapstick is cheap, and it really works.

  7. abigail

    Available in drug stores is LANSINOH . comes in a tube. Recommended for breast feeding mothers. Mentioned in other Peoples Pharmacy articles. It is 100% lanolin. says on the tube ultra pure medical grade.

  8. Karen K.

    I am a needlework and quilt designer. Working with threads and fabrics take a tole on my hands, plus I have dry skin. I’ve been using “Udderly Smooth” which is an udder cream for years. Since I started using it I have not had problems with cracked fingers. Plus, I think it helps my finger nails, 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!

  9. T A

    A former MD/dermatologist told me to use Super Glue in bleeding fissures on my hands. The chemicals in the Super Glue caused a huge reaction and worsened my condition. It took over a week to to get the glue out of the fissures and over 6 weeks for the areas to heal. Make sure any advice causes no harm – please!
    From years of experience with bleeding fissures from palmo-plantar pustulosis psoriasis, I have found that to occlude my hands and feet at night and to protect them in the day is the only route to relief. To occlude: I use either unrefined lanolin (with NOTHING ADDED – not even water) which only comes in a jar (found only at CVS) or raw, unrefined shea butter ordered from Ghana work the best and safest!
    I apply either in a thick layer on my hands and feet, wrap them in gauze and cover the gauze with cotton footies/gloves. The shea is not as oily as the lanolin, but the lanolin works best when the fissures are deep. The best way to protect hands is to wear disposable gloves, the least expensive is a $4.99 Walgreen brand. Shea butter can be easily worn under the gloves.

  10. TP

    I apply lip balm on my fingertips and cuticles. Rub it in and then apply lotion to your hands.

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