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Frequent Handwashing Wrecks Fingertips

Q. I am a preschool teacher and have to wash my hands dozens of times a day in the attempt to avoid colds and flu. I am suffering the worst case of dried-out winter skin I can remember with deep painful cracks around my fingernails.

I’ve tried everything under the sun from Eucerin and Corn Husker’s Lotion to Aveeno and Aquaphor. My hands are still a mess and the cracks make it hard to type or fasten buttons. Help!

A. Cold dry air and frequent handwashing are guaranteed to cause dry skin misery. Readers tell us that using Chapstick (or other lip balm) on the cracks is sometimes helpful. Another approach for cracked fingertips is instant glue. A safer solution might be liquid bandage such as New-Skin or Band-Aid brand.

For more recommendations on healing dry, cracked skin we are sending you our Guide to Skin Care & Treatment. Wearing cotton or disposable vinyl gloves over a greasy moisturizer overnight can also help dry cracked skin heal.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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