Dry skin is a common problem in the winter, and it can often lead to split, cracked fingertips. One of the most basic recommendations is to keep the skin well moisturized. But what moisturizer is best?
Q. My skin is in terrible shape. This winter has dried out my skin, nails and even my lips. The tips of my fingers are so dry that they have split open and are incredibly painful. Even typing on a keyboard hurts.
I have tried the instant glue on the cracks and while it helps a little it does nothing for the dry skin. I have tried first aid cream and hand lotions without any improvement. What else can I use to ease my sandpaper skin?
Heavy-Duty Moisturizers for Sandpaper Skin:
A. Dermatologists often recommend super greasy creams and lotions like Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Aquaphor or Eucerin. You may feel a bit like a greased pig, but these products can ease the discomfort of dry cracked fingers, especially if you smear the moisturizer on thickly before climbing into bed and then wear cotton gloves to protect the sheets.
Skin Creams Containing Urea:
We are even more fond of skin creams with urea. This is a natural compound that is found in the body (unlike petroleum jelly). When urea is included in a skin cream it offers superb skin protection. Not only does urea improve the barrier function of the skin, it actually regulates gene activity to improve the skin’s defenses against bacteria. This has been described in detail in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Redex Industries, the makers of Udderly Smooth Udder Cream (and sponsors of our radio show) have come up with two urea-containing versions of their famous moisturizer. There is Udderly Smooth Extra Care Cream with 10% urea. You can also get what we consider “professional strength” Extra Care 20 with 20% urea. This is the strongest urea cream you can buy without a prescription. People with diabetes or those undergoing chemotherapy find this skin cream especially helpful, but it is also great for people with dry, cracked sandpaper skin.
Other Uses for Urea-Based Moisturizer:
One unexpected bonus from using a 20% urea cream came from a reader:
“I developed a skin condition on my lower leg for which my dermatologist recommended skin cream with 20 percent urea (OTC). The area was near some spider veins, and during the course of treatment the spider veins faded where some of the urea cream got on them.
“I began to cover the entire spider vein area with the urea cream and now they are almost completely gone. Have you heard of using urea cream to treat spider veins?
“The change was really dramatic. I assume it was due to the action of the urea on these superficial veins.”
Since we shared this story we have heard from others:
“I applied the cream at night before bed. The 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.”
And then there was this:
“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– and the one that cleared my eczema quickly and thoroughly was Udderly Smooth Udder Cream 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!”
Other people with spider veins have tried using urea cream on them, and not everyone gets such excellent results. However, the Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream is superb as a treatment for sandpaper skin.
We would also like to learn what you have been using for your dry skin, cracked fingers and chipped nails. What works for your dry lips? Share your story below.