It’s bad enough that it’s frigid outside and the weather is gloomy, but on top of that to have splitting fingertips – Skin Fissures makes everything that much worse and the winter seem that much longer. Splitting (fissuring) of the fingertips is a very common problem affecting many of us, most often in the extremely dry winter months. Splitting fingertips (Fissures) can cause substantial discomfort, particularly frequent pain. This pain can make it difficult for us to do our normal daily activities. It also seems that those of us who tend to do the most activities with our hands, whether it be work related functions or recreational things, tend to suffer the most from fingertip splitting. People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis are prone to dry skin, which may result in skin fissures.
Splitting Fingertips – Skin Fissures
It’s worth taking just a moment to discuss why these splitting fingertips (Fissures) occur in the first place. Skin throughout the body normally has a certain amount of elasticity—its ability to bounce back to its normal position after stretching. Think of it like a rubber band. You could stretch that rubber band and as long as you don’t pull it too much it will spring back to its normal shape after you’re done pulling.
Certain areas of the skin tend to have less elasticity, and this is especially true for fingertips. With the right background environmental conditions that elasticity can further dwindle down to very low levels. Dry air and cold weather in the winter can dry out our skin, making it less elastic. Some of us are particularly prone to dry and sensitive skin causing even more susceptibility to this problem. Others may have skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis that further compound the problem. And then what happens? When you pull or stretch that skin, rather than easily bouncing back, instead it more easily tears and splits open causing fingertip fissures.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands Omaha & Council Bluffs
We at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands know how incredibly uncomfortable this can make you—and are happy to report that there are several different things that you can do to improve your skin and get the spots to heal.
Moisture is key!
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Do this throughout the day, and especially at bedtime. When selecting a moisturizer, the thicker the product the better it may be for you. The best dermatologists know that lotions are the weakest moisturizers, with creams being better, and ointments being best. In cases of severe dry skin on the hands, especially if that is causing splitting of the skin, we will often have patients soak their hands in lukewarm water for 3-5 minutes at bedtime. Following that they will immediately coat their wet hands in petroleum jelly/Vaseline, then put on soft white cotton gloves. Doing this nightly for stretches of time and using the same pair of gloves (without cleaning the gloves) can really soften the hands.
Baby your hands
This means when things get particularly bad with dry hands and splitting skin, try to minimize activities that put great strain on the fragile skin. This includes various mechanical activities. Also avoiding exposure to the elements, such as cold outdoor temperatures, can help. Repeat wet-dry cycles, like you get with washing dishes, cleaning, doing mechanical work where you wash your hands afterwards can also be a problem. Consider wearing gloves for these activities, such as work gloves for heavy mechanical activities and thinner disposable gloves for household activities. Nitrile gloves are often good for this and can be bought by the box.
If these measures don’t do enough for you, consider seeking medical advice from us here at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands. In some cases, more aggressive treatments may be needed, resulting in great improvement.
Again, we know how bad winters can be, especially on the fingertips. Splitting fingertip fissures can be extremely uncomfortable. We hope this information has been helpful to you, and if you still have difficulties, we have appointments available to evaluate and treat your problem at our offices in Omaha, Council Bluffs, and outreach locations in both Iowa and Nebraska.
For any information or to make an appointment please contact us.