Brittle nails, hair loss, thinning eyebrows, or dry skin might be indications of undiagnosed thyroid problems.

There are some common problems that may not warrant medical treatment. Cracked fingertips are a great example.

At this time of year, when the air inside is dry and we start washing our hands more frequently to avoid catching colds, many people find that the tips of their fingers become sore and even split open. While not a medical emergency, this is a constant annoyance in daily life. It becomes difficult to button clothes, use a computer keyboard or peel an orange.

Our readers come to the rescue. Many have had experience with this problem and have learned ways to cope with it. They are eager to share their remedies with others.

Here is a sample of some of their suggestions:

“I am a physician who hunts a great deal in the winter. I have a problem with my fingers splitting open when I am outside a lot in cold weather. The very best thing I have found is
 O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. I apply it heavily to my fingertips every night.”

Another reader offered a different solution:

“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.”

People also try ointments designed for other uses: “I use a dab of Preparation H ointment on my cracked fingers. I cover the spot with a bandage and it heals overnight.”

One young mother has come up with a novel idea:

“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.”

We are especially fond of Udderly Smooth Udder Cream. The manufacturer is Redex Industries and they have been sponsoring The People’s Pharmacy radio show and website for years. They offer wonderfully effective products at a very reasonable cost. Here is a link to their website. Here is what James in Gresham, Oregon had to say:

“I had constant painful cracks on my fingers. When current cracks would clear up (with the help of Neosporin and bandages) others would immediately appear. The solution: I stopped using paper towels. Also I started using UDDER CREAM, which has Lanolin in it. I went from constant pain (in which it was hard to button my shirt) with cracked fingers to ZERO PROBLEMS. Please pass it on”….James

A different reader weighed in with this:

“While I use creams for my knuckles and backs of my hands, I found the best remedy for cracked fingertips is instant glue (ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate, commonly sold under trade names like Super Glue and Krazy Glue). A little squirt on the crack seals it and allows it to heal. When I mentioned this to a pharmacist, he informed me that the product was developed as an alternative to sutures to seal wounds after surgery.”

Not all approaches to preventing cracked fingertips rely on topical treatments. One woman found an online recommendation for flaxseed oil:

“So I tried it and it worked. I have taken one capsule every day now for four years and not a single split or cracked finger since.”

Another reader got results from a different supplement:

“My problem of cracking fingertips ended completely when I started taking a daily vitamin D3 supplement. I started at 1,000 IU per day, then 2,000, and now I take 35 IU per pound of body weight, as recommended by vitamin D researchers. I no longer need to put lotion on my hands unless I wash dishes without gloves.”

It may take experimentation to find what will work best for your cracked fingertips. With so many remedies to choose from, we hope one will ease this painful condition.

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  1. kathy

    I wrote the 2 other Kathy posts. Now I tried putting hydrogen peroxide on it and using oregano oil to get rid of the infection. I did not know it was infected but the peroxide bubbled. I mixed the peroxide half with water until the cuts healed before I used it full strength. Am wearing gloves 24/7 the gardening gloves seem to work the best. I am using therapeutic dry skin cream, and aloe but it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of moisturizer you use, just to put it on frequently matters. Now I am trying lard and it seems to be helping. It is almost healed but we shall see, as I said this before and it got bad again.

  2. Molly

    Tea tree oil mixed with bacitracin ointment & a somewhat mildly loose bandage

  3. Kathy M

    I read in Adelle Davis’s book, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit,” it is a B-6 deficiency. I took B-6 to no avail until I remembered it needs magnesium to work. I tried magnesium citrate with the B-6 and overnight my fingers were almost healed.

  4. Kathy

    I have now tried an online brand of olive oil twice a day, and it is helping. I tried the others, flaxseed and coconut oil, and it didn’t work. I still have the callouses but the blisters are gone, and the cracking is gone. I also wear cotton gloves a lot and use the Lanolin. If I don’t wear the gloves I tend to want to pick at it. I try to use rubber gloves as little as possible. It makes it worse.


    Thank you so much for the trick with the Super Glue !
    It worked really well, from the minute I put some on, no more pain, and the split in my thumb was gone after a few days.
    Wow !

  6. sharon s
    New haven mo

    thanks so much for all the great information

  7. Michele

    I increased my potassium levels by eating lots of bananas and my fingertips healed. Our skin cells need to maintain a proper sodium to potassium ratio but most people eat too much sodium (salt).

  8. A

    It was interesting to hear that someone has a problem with newspaper ink. I too have a problem and with new books and photocopies and just touching one will immediately cause my fingers or thumbs to tingle and then over a week or so the skin goes white and hard and then peels off leaving very sore, red skin behind. It has also cracked this time. I am now sitting here with Vaseline and cling film on my thumb and it is already a little less sore. I will be using more Vaseline and white gloves tonight in bed tonight. Thank you everyone.

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