Cracked Fingertips

Cracked and dry fingertips are most commonly caused by skin dryness or lack of adequate moisture. However, occasionally, it can also be caused by skin conditions like contact dermatitis and eczema.
Did You Know?
Super Glue, a.k.a. Krazy Glue, works like a charm for cracked and split fingertips. Carefully open the cracks and squeeze a small amount of Super Glue into the cracks without letting it spread across the entire finger. The glue, being thin in nature, easily wicks into the cracks and seals it up.

Cracked fingertips, often, is a problem caused by excessive dryness of the skin around the fingertips. Such extremely dry skin can be caused by several factors, and is generally observed during winters because the cold and dry weather robs the skin of its moisture. This can result in small cracks and fissures on the tips, which can be quite painful and may cause bleeding at times.

Various Causes

Apart from harsh winter conditions harming the skin (as already mentioned in the above paragraph) frequent change in the temperature, i.e., from cold to hot or vice versa, also affects an individual's blood circulation, which eventually results in cracks and itching.

If the hands are exposed to harsh detergents and soaps, it would result in skin irritation, thus causing the fingertips to crack. It is common with people who fail to wear gloves while washing dishes or gardening.

Psoriasis or contact dermatitis/allergies could be another cause of concern. When the skin comes in contact with some particular irritants which are found in harsh detergents and disinfectants or a specific allergen, like poison ivy, it can lead to cracked hands.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (a chemical found in many shampoos) might sometimes result in extremely cracked and dry fingers.

Eczema and fungal infections like tinea manuum can make the skin of the affected area scaly and dry; itching and burning sensations are also experienced. Sometimes, fluid-filled blisters or lesions can develop on the affected area due to eczema.

In addition to these common causes, an underactive thyroid gland, which is known to cause excessively dry skin and hair, hormonal changes, and vitamin deficiencies may have an association with this condition. At the same time, an overdose of certain vitamins can also cause skin dryness. For example, an overdose of vitamin A can make the skin dry and cracked.

Treatment Options

The following are a few safe remedies which are easily available in the market and can be gently rubbed twice daily, as it would soften and heal the cracks quickly.

Petroleum Jelly
Vitamin E-rich oils
Vitamin E-rich creams
Calamine Lotion
Vicks VapoRub
Shea Butter Moisturizer
Corn Huskers Lotion
Cocoa Butter Moisturizer
Bag Balm

Apart from the above options, a few natural oils, like myrrh, patchouli, cajuput, calendula, lavender, sandalwood, vetiver, almond, coconut, olive, flax, jojoba, etc., have been proven to be quite effective in healing and soothing chapped fingertips.

Apply moisturizing cream or lotion generously and wear cotton gloves before going to bed. This is one of the most effective ways to deal with the cracks.

You can also try applying antibiotic topical cream or hydrocortisone on severely cracked and dry skin. Tie a cotton gauze over it, if needed.

If this condition is caused by a fungal infection, then it would require application of an antifungal cream or ointment. Do speak to your physician to find out an effective antifungal cream.

Application of tea tree oil or citronella oil, which have fungicidal properties can help treat the cracks and prevent the spread of fungal infection to other areas.

Dry and scaly fingertips caused by eczema can be treated with topical steroid creams. Your physician would prescribe you with some appropriate medications for the same.

Preventive Measures
  • It is essential to keep your skin well-hydrated and moisturized. Regular use of the above-mentioned creams would help in keeping your hands soft and smooth.
  • Reduce the exposure to harsh chemicals, irritants, and detergents, and protect your hands by wearing a pair of gloves, while washing dishes, cleaning any household item or gardening.
  • Limit the use of soaps, and make sure that you moisturize your hands every time after washing and also before going to bed, especially during the winters.
  • Use skin care products that contain salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids, as they can immensely help to exfoliate the dry and thick skin around the fingertips.
  • After washing your hands, immediate application of humectant lotion helps in sealing the moisture in your skin.
  • Drink plenty of water and fresh fruit juices to keep your body hydrated.
However, if your fingertips are constantly dry and cracked, and have not healed even after taking all possible care and precautions, then do get yourself checked for any rare or serious problem. Such a condition needs to be properly evaluated to rule out the possibility of dermatitis, eczema or fungal infection.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.
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