There are some common problems that may not warrant medical treatment. Cracked fingertips are a great example.
During the winter, 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.
Moisturizing Cracked Fingertips to Help Them Heal:
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 moisturizer with urea.
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 moisturizer with urea, which also 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.”
Does What You Put in Your Mouth Affect Your Fingertips?
Not all approaches to preventing cracked fingertips rely on topical treatments. Some readers have reported that what they take–or avoid–can make a difference.
Q. I had been suffering with painful cracked fingertips for years. I even went to the doctor for it. However, the prescription creams I got didn’t work.
Then I decided to stop eating whole wheat bread and other wheat-based products. Within two weeks, my fingertips were healed and my digestive troubles resolved. I think I could be gluten intolerant. That was a few years ago and I have not had a single split fingertip since.
Is It Celiac Disease?
A. You should ask your doctor if you might be at risk for celiac disease. Doctors usually associate this gluten-reactive autoimmune disease with dermatitis herpetiformis, but other conditions may also appear (International Journal of Dermatology, March 2021). Tests for gluten sensitivity might be in order.
If you have been scrupulous about avoiding gluten, though, an antibody blood test for this condition will not be accurate. Even a biopsy may not tell the story. A genetic test might reveal your susceptibility, but it won’t determine if you actually have celiac disease. A doctor who treats people with celiac disease will be able to tell you if you would need to do a gluten “challenge” before your test.
Some people find that supplements can be helpful for easing the pain of cracked fingertips.
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.