This is the cruelest time of year for your delicate dermis. If you have been following public health recommendations to wash your hands every time you touch something like a doorknob, an elevator button or an ATM touch pad, your hands are suffering.
Winter weather with its low humidity dries skin out, and frequent hand washing makes that worse. We recently had a question from a preschool teacher with painful cracks near her fingernails. These make it hard for her to fasten buttons or type.
We received a generous outpouring of advice from our readers. They, too, have suffered pain from cracked fingertips and want to share what has worked for them.
Lucille recalls: “As a young girl, I slathered Vaseline on my hands and slid on my cotton Communion gloves before bed at night. It worked like a miracle to ease severe chapping!”
SWB says: “I use Bag Balm, with a similar consistency to Vaseline. It is what farmers use on cows’ udders for healing. This is better than any hand cream or lotion and can be purchased in a farm store.”
Barbara suggests: “Substitute a hand sanitizer for soap and water. Try Udderly Smooth Udder Cream. It is great for skin and doesn’t leave an oily residue on the hands.”
GL advises: “I had this problem for years. Finally I discovered Working Hands Creme, and it has been the answer to the problem of painful cracked fingertips. I use it every night right before bed.”
Patricia remembers: “As a nurse, I had dry skin for years, especially on my hands. Another nurse recommended Lac-Hydrin Five about 10 years ago. I never had a problem again. I use it faithfully, winter or summer.”
Joanne reports: “My daughter and son-in-law mentioned using Gold Bond hand cream. I had tried many different hand creams in the past, to no avail, but I decided to give it a try. I got marvelous results for my cracked, painful fingertips. The aloe in the healing lotion was wonderful, and the shea butter keeps the hands smooth. I watch my 6-year-old granddaughter and my 10-month-old grandson, so hand washing is top priority this winter.”
Amy offers: “I just discovered Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creme, and it has worked wonders. My nails seem stronger as well. I rub it onto my cuticles, nails, nail beds and fingertips every night before bed.”
Sheryl says: “I have the same problem. The best solution I have found is a thick hand cream, Palmer’s Shea Butter Formula.”
Jerry finds: “At night I put tea tree oil on any cracks and cover them with a smear of Aquaphor, Vaseline or ChapStick, with a bandage over that. By morning, those sore cracks are very much improved.”
Candice suggests: “Always wear gloves when washing dishes or working with any kind of detergent. Use a humidifier in your home and the classroom. Ointments are the most moisturizing, more than creams or lotions. I prefer Aquaphor Healing Ointment. My dad says Burt’s Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Creme and Hand Salve are excellent.”
There may not be a single moisturizer that suits everyone, but there are plenty of good suggestions here. Even the roughest, reddest hands should benefit from a little extra care this winter.