How to get relief from dry fingertips and cuticles?
December 8, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

My fingertips and cuticles are super dry and ragged, and nothing seems to help. I have been using alpha hydroxy lotions, plus I slather Aquaphor and cuticle oil onto my fingertips and cuticles and glove up before I go to bed. None of it is really helping. Any suggestions?
posted by marikoeggplant to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Wear gloves when washing dishes and cleaning (mopping, kitchen, bathroom) with hot water and detergents. Lotion up after washing hands..
posted by shoesietart at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2011

My father suffers similarly and has taken to wearing gloves even when he showers. The only moisturizer I've found that works really really well was Heavy Duty brand but seems not to be available anymore, to my great sadness.
posted by noxetlux at 10:11 AM on December 8, 2011

Maybe you've already done this, but I would get a proper manicure before resuming what you are doing, and whatever additional tips this thread provides. They will remove much of the dry skin and so you are on maintainence mode, rather than trying to fix everything.
posted by teragram at 10:11 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be sure you're drinking a ton of water.
posted by something something at 10:18 AM on December 8, 2011

try using a thicker emollient like this cocoa butter. Shea butter also works. Soak your cuticles, trim the thickened ragged ends down so that they quit catching on things, and wear gloves in any situation where you may contact detergents (washing dishes) or cold (outside.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:18 AM on December 8, 2011

Gloves plus vaseline.
posted by devymetal at 10:18 AM on December 8, 2011

Some anecdata: I'd had super dry hands and ugly, ragged, painful cuticles for years and years. I tried all the creams, oils and lotions I could find and nothing seemed to have any meaningful effects. Recently, for completely unrelated reasons, I started making a real effort to eat a healthy diet. I cut way down on simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, sugars, sodium, etc. I started eating more veggies and lean meats, and taking supplements to cover the vitamins and minerals until I could learn how to construct a proper diet that would provide them naturally. I quit soda (mostly) and added more water & unsweetened tea. And just last week I noticed that wow, I haven't had a hangnail in a while, not a single fingertip is cracked, painful, or ragged-looking, and my nails look great!

That may not be the solution for you, and it's probably an awful lot of effort to go through just for healthy fingertips, but for me, healthy fingertips were a really great surprise side effect of improving my diet.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:34 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take an omega-3 supplement and eat fish every day. Also, an extra B vitamin complex, a probiotic and a good multi wouldn't hurt either... I used to have dry skin, but since I started doing all that stuff I'm soft and rosy.
posted by aquafortis at 10:37 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, recently I started taking Omega 3 and cod liver oil supplements, and they have done more to alleviate my dry skin than any cream I've ever used.
posted by emeiji at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2011

If your cuticles are infected - red, inflamed, and painful, use some triple antibiotic ointment on them to help them heal.
posted by valeries at 10:51 AM on December 8, 2011

I've had decent results with Vitamin E oil, using it as a regular hand lotion.
posted by tommasz at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2011

It could be a skin infection too, maybe go to a dermatologist to rule that out. Mine claims that a lot of dry cracked skin is fungal infections.
posted by fshgrl at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2011

Mix cheap olive oil, sugar together and a scent/essential oil (if you want) and keep it in a jar. Every day take a teaspoon and rub it all over your hands. Rinse off with warm water and pat your hands dry. Follow up with more moisturizer.
posted by Gor-ella at 11:34 AM on December 8, 2011

Increasing my intake of dietary fats has truly been the key to happy fingers for me. Various flaxseed, fish, or other oil supplements can also do similar things.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:40 AM on December 8, 2011

I've actually found that alpha hydroxy lotions make my dry skin worse not better.
posted by lab.beetle at 12:29 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I smooth my cuticles with a cuticle stone, use lots of a good hand cream, and sometimes chapstick my cuticles. sometimes my fingertips will crack, which is really annoying when typing. A small piece of tape, or the adhesive bit of a bandaid covering the crack will keep it from hurting all day, and help keep moisture in the skin, letting it heal.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2011

Do you live in a dry climate? I grew up someplace humid and lived in a desert climate for a while, and my fingertips, face, lips, everything dried out and make me look like a lizard. The only things that helped were using Cetaphil cream in the morning and every.single.night before I went to bed (missing one day would totally mess me up) and running a humidifier at night. I'm back someplace humid, and notice myself drying out again when I don't use the humidifier religiously.
posted by jabes at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2011

The breastfeeding ladies I know who use Bag Balm (which they were using as nipple cream) add that it really improves the dry cracked cuticles some got from washing their hands all the damn time.
posted by tulip-socks at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2011

I 2nd drinking plenty of water and moisturizing regularly, definitely after washing your hands. Also, moisturize while your skin is still damp and don't use those hot air hand dryers.

I'm not sure if this applies to you, but, if you bite your nails or cuticles definitely stop. Get a manicure so everything is perfect and don't pick, especially with your teeth.

If you're taking any medications check to see if it could be a side effect. My mother had super dry fingertips (and heels) that cracked regularly due to a medication she was taking. She also obsessively craved ice cubes at the time and would refuse to use moisturizers because they would come off on the ice cubes as she was eating them. Go figure.
posted by simplethings at 5:28 PM on December 8, 2011

Alpha hydroxy is an acid meant to strip away dead skin cells. It is doing its job too well.

Also, quit using anything with Triclosan in it.
posted by gjc at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2011

What has helped me: Humidifier at night, Essential Fatty Acids and not taking showers that are too hot or too long. I also really like the tins of Burt's Bees lemon cuticle cream. It's thick and waxy so it sticks around longer than oils.
posted by tinamonster at 5:58 PM on December 8, 2011

Badger Balm is the best thing I've ever found for this.

I used to have a job which exposed my hands to freezing weather and constant washing - they were so rough my BF refused to hold them.

Badger Balm got them in good condition in no time at all. This stuff is great!
posted by cat_link at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2011

The greatest stuff on earth, I swear, is No Crack. The name is pretty embarrassing but it works unbelievably well at restoring severely damaged skin.
posted by DrGail at 5:15 AM on December 9, 2011

Try using aquaphor or cuticle cream or vitamin e regularly troughout the day - it's not really something you can overdo and and there's no reason to limit it to once a day.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:59 AM on December 9, 2011

Any time your hands get wet, dry them ASAP thoroughly. Leaving water on the skin to air dry messes my hands up terrible in the cold months. I have to be vigilant about toweling every single drop off immediately.
posted by ifjuly at 9:21 AM on December 9, 2011

Also, when you dry your skin, pat. Don't rub! It doesn't feel like much abrasion, but a scratchy towel can add insult to injury.
posted by tulip-socks at 2:18 PM on December 10, 2011

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