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Brutal Winter Causes Excruciating Dry Skin

Dry cold Midwestern weather can wreak havoc on skin and lips. What do readers offer when fingertips crack and skin feels like sandpaper?

It is February, and we have been getting a roller coaster ride from the weather. One week the polar vortex swept into the midwest and froze a lot of folks butts. The next week some places got an  unusually early taste of spring. Here in North Carolina the temperatures almost hit 70 degrees F and we saw daffodils poking their heads up and blossoming. Chances are that winter isn’t yet over, though. How are your hands holding up? Are you suffering with uncomfortable dry skin? We have some recommendations from past years that are still good. And we are offering a 25% sale on our Winter Skin Survival Kit!

Soothing the Nasty Dry Skin on Your Hands:

Q. I live in the Midwest and this has been a brutal winter. Being outside has been terrible for my skin. My hands and knuckles are dry, cracked and look like elephant skin.

The fingertips are so sore I can barely stand to type at my computer. My legs are so dry and itchy that I often make the skin bleed from scratching.

My lips are also dry, tight and cracked. I sometimes cannot resist biting off the dry loose skin but that only makes my lips more tender. No sooner do I apply lip balm than I have to do it again with a few minutes.

I have stopped washing my hands except when I go to the bathroom, but that hasn’t helped much. The lotions and creams that I’ve tried now cause a rash. I’m at my wit’s end. Winters in the Midwest are long and cold enough as it is without having to deal with winter skin too. Please suggest some remedies that will work.

Remedies for Cracked, Split Fingertips:

A. You are not the only one wishing this winter would end. The folks in New England have also been hammered. Let’s start with those fingertips. Many visitors to this website have offered suggestions. Carolyn reinforces the success that many report using products like new-skin Liquid Bandage:

“I get split skin on my fingertips, too, and as suggested by one of the readers, I use liquid bandage. It works.

“I also coat my hands with castor oil some nights before I go to sleep and then put the hands into socks to keep the oil from getting on the bedding. This is supposed to help with osteoarthritis pain, but it could also be helping to reduce the likelihood of split fingertips.”

We too have used Liquid Bandage, but the solvent smell is a bit overpowering for us and it takes awhile to dry. Cindi, a visitor to this site, recommended Locktite brand Super Glue. We tried it and found that it seals fingertip cracks quickly and takes away the pain. Resist the urge to peel the dry glue off, though, as that will only makes things worse.

Super Dry Winter Skin:

When it comes to super dry skin, we have lots of suggestions from visitors. We are constantly amazed at the variety of passionate recommendations we get. Some people love old-fashioned petrolatum (petroleum jelly or Vaseline). Others hate the idea of putting a petroleum product on their skin.

Readers Recommend Their Favorite Moisturizing Treatments:

Kathy says,

“I used to use prescription-strength Lac Hydrin (12%) lotion for my sandpaper hands and have not looked back. I now use Amlactin which is OTC. It’s great on my hands, feet and elbows. An amount the size of a quarter covers all. I put it on my hands twice a day and the other areas once a day.”

Randy offers:

“Years ago, while working as an industrial electronics technician, I often got cracked knuckles in the winter time. This was painful and affected my work.

“I usually carried a ChapStick for my lips and soon found that if I rubbed a little across my knuckles it helped to keep them from cracking. Also, I found that if any knuckle cracked, I could rub ChapStick right on the crack and would get instant relief from the pain and faster healing.”

Holly says:

“When my hands are cracked open and bleeding, I rub Vicks VapoRub into the area before going to bed. It really helps. There are times they heal overnight. Some take a couple nights but it works wonders. You would think the Vicks would sting, but it doesn’t. Give it a try.”

MJW is adamant about her solution:

“Shea butter (100%) is the best I’ve found for cracked skin. I use it regularly.”

MC suggests:

“I have been using Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream with urea for six months. This is the first winter I have not had cracks in the skin or around my thumbnails.

“Winter is not over yet, but I am so glad to be free of cracks. This cream also works as a face cream. It performs as well as my expensive creams (better in some cases) and does not interfere with my rosacea treatments.”

Winter Skin Survival Kit

You can deal with dry skin, cracked fingertips and chapped lips all at the same time with our special Winter Skin Survival Kit. Full disclosure: The makers of Udderly Smooth creams and lotions used to underwrite our radio show. They no longer do so. 

That said, we think they offer a great product at a very reasonable price. They developed Extra Care 20 Cream with 20% urea for people with really dry skin. Urea is well established by dermatologists as a valuable compound to restore the protective barrier of the skin. If you want to learn why we believe urea is so important for clinical-strength skin creams, here is a video we made to explain it

You will get two sizes of Udderly Smooth Extra Care 20 Cream (a 2 oz. handy tube for pocket or pocketbook and a jumbo 8 oz. tub for the bathroom or kitchen). These are unscented and non-greasy creams.  

In the Winter Skin Survival Kit you will get 3 tubes of our own specially formulated Pomegranate Natural Lip Care. The scent and taste are natural and a great way to keep lips from chapping and cracking. It is our most popular lip balm. Our chemist is renowned for natural products and he worked diligently to get this formula exactly right. The ingredients of each product are listed in their individual entries in the shopping cart.

You get a 25% discount when you purchase the survival kit compared to the individual items. That is a savings of $7.74. We won’t be ordering any more Udder Cream after this sale. We have limited supplies. When they are gone, that’s it! Take advantage of the 25% sale now. 

Take control over dry skin, cracked fingertips and chapped lips with our special Winter Skin Survival Kit offer

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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