hand washing

Q. I had cracked hands and fingertips for several years and found nothing that helped. Then I got rid of all antibacterial soaps. My hands cleared up immediately, and I have had no trouble since.

A. The antibacterial ingredient in most soaps, toothpastes and dish detergents is triclosan. There are some concerns about this compound, which disrupts thyroid hormones in some animals (Toxicological Sciences, Jan. 2009).

According to its website, the “FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water.”

Thanks for sharing your experience. Frequent use of any soap can strip oil from skin and aggravate dryness. Many people find a strong moisturizer can be helpful. Lanolin and petroleum jelly are both effective for this purpose, although lanolin can cause allergic reactions and petroleum jelly is derived from petroleum (surprise). Our favorite is Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream with 20 percent urea. It is from Redex, a company that supports our radio show.

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  1. Laurie M.

    I have found that having a Water Softener and Soft Water really makes a huge difference in the condition of my hands and skin in general. Combining that with using a good Petroleum based lotion or the Udderly Smooth Udder Cream and your hands feel so much better!!!!

  2. Barbara L.

    I have had a problem with cracked skin on both hands on the sides of my nails for the last forty years. So painful. I have used everything out there, Vaseline, olive oil and Utters with of course the white gloves when I went to bed. It never helped at all. Two years ago I saw an advertisement on QVC advertising the vitamin Bioten for hair, nails and skin. I have been using it ever since. Well since then I have not had any cracked skin.

  3. oldetimer

    I have been told that washing hands and dishes in very hot water also causes dry skin and cracked fingernails. Has this been shown to be true?

  4. RC1956

    That clear tape they use for IV’s tore a quarter sized ulcer on the back of my hand and the Dial foaming cleanser cracked my knuckles, back of hands and fingertips severely. Goat’s milk soap and super moisturizing creams helped heal them, along with wear spa gloves at night.

  5. LG

    For years I tried just about every kind of lotion/cream on the market. Nothing worked for my cracked fingers and hands. Until, a Dentist’s nurse, his wife told me about using Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) if you will. It worked both for me and my husband. It really works. Every day, several times a day and especially at night rub some in well and also on your knees, elbows etc, anywhere where your skin tends to crack. Also found that Listerine is a wonderful antiseptic for pimples. Skin on face and body always breaking out due to stress, oh, yes, Dr said my skin was breaking out due to stress and she is right. So, I clean those eruptions with listerine and it works. Listen up kids with acne. try it.
    Thank you for a wonderful, informative newsletter Dr. Gradeon. It’s a blessing to have someone who care about us out here in computer land and writing those fantastic and so full of good advice and information to help us get well and lead better lives. L

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