dry cracking hands?!?

Joined Aug 10, 2001
Hello everyone, I am sure since there are many here who work in the industry, someone else has to suffer from dry, cracking hands...When fingers split, and bleed, and sting whenever you wash them in anything, even plain water :eek:...I have an appointment with a dermatologist in May (the earliest available), but do any of you have any advice on what I could do until then?
this is serious, and I don't know what to do.

Thanks in advance :confused:
Joined Nov 21, 2001
have you tried cocoa butter, the kind sold in drug stores, not baking supplies. eucerin cream seems to work fairly well and some people swear by "bag balm" made for livestock originally. the main thing i've found to help is constant reapplication and keeping your hands out of liquids(which in a kitchen is almost impossible). hope this helps.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
Wear surgical gloves when ever possible. If you do use a cream or lotion at work, get an unscented type that won't transfer that perfume and soapy taste to everything you touch, i.e. shaping bread dough. Bag balm has been a popular item in kitchens as long as I can remember. It was originally formulated for moisturizing cow udders.
Joined May 6, 2001
but, as a SAHM with changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, doing art projects, etc my hands get quite a beating. Neutrogena is by far one of the brands to use. If/when it gets really bad I'll put on bag balm and a pair of "sleeping gloves" overnight. I hope I've helped.:)
Joined Apr 24, 2001
And when you are finally knocking off and don't have the energy or the fancier stuff at hand (hee hee), olive oil is my choice for a quick fix until I can get home. I apply just a few drops after I rinse and pat my hands to rid of excess water but while my hands are still moist. This helps the olive oil not be so slippery. Use the extra virgin. It's lighter than the others and absorbs better. Another light oil that I've used is almond oil (don't let the chef see). I figure if this stuff is good during massages, it ought to be good after work. And the stuff we have at the restaurant is primo. In the pastry station we have rosewater and glyverin. But I've never tried to combine the two to make a moisturizer because it takes too much time (I just reach for the olive oil). At home I have this stuff from Japan that a good friend bought for me. It's called YuSkin. It's very medicinal but works. I put on before sleep. In addition to cracked hands, I also have cracked lips. And I will use the cocoa butter for this. I take a few shards and rub between my fingers to warm a little until it gets a little gooey and then apply to my lips. I got this idea from reading Like Water for Chocolate. Tita extracted the oil from the beans on a fry pan. As for facial skin... Sigh. I have a few more wrinkles from the drying blast of heat when I open the oven door. Nothing I can do about that one except smile because that's the best way I can hide those laughlines.
Joined Nov 19, 1999
I surely know what you mean by dry, cracked hands. I had my hands in more chemicals than usual this week,and washed walls to close down the sorority house for winter break. All of my knuckles are bleeding:( I am using an Aloe Vera lotion that helps a lot. I've read that putting vaseline on the hands and sleeping in white cotton gloves will heal them. I would bet on the olive oil theory. It's good for everything that ails you. Gloves - the surgical kind, don't help me because my hands sweat so much in them that they are still soaking wet!
Joined May 26, 2001
Crisco is also good in a pinch, at work. And wearing latex or other such gloves when you might have your hands in water a lot. Yeah, they can be really annoying, but they give your hands a chance to not get any worse.

At home, at night I use Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Healing (white bottle, royal blue cap).
Joined May 11, 2001
Eucerin cream (not lotion) works the best for me. It's a little disgusting because it looks very much like Crisco but thicker. It's somewhat greasy at first, but it absorbs after rubbing it in. One thing I really like about Eucerin is that it really has no smell unlike those other "unscented" creams that stink.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I can sympathize with you. I suffered with this for years. Spent lots of money!!!! with regular doctors. Met a herbologist( which I'm not really into) and was healed in two weeks forever.
The key is to moisturize your hands from the inside. Your probably not going to like this , but you have to cut the caffeine and the alcohol, drink plenty of water, and stay away from injesting large amounts of citrus things.
I also had to use a cream for the dry winter times, hum, I think its called zims crack creme. I know, but I'm not kidding.
Also do not let your hands air dry, always dry them quickly with a clean cloth.
Good Luck,
PS I'm certainly not telling you not to go to the doctor, thats your best bet.:eek:
Joined Oct 16, 2001
there are a number of reasons they dry and crack but first let me tell you about balms and salves. they would be the best product for you.i dont like gloves you may actually be allergic to the latex or rubber. a company called burt's bees makes a gardners hand salve that is absolutely a miracle worker.use it after you knock of work and before you go to bed . also get yourself some soap from the health food store in a pump. the soap at work could be adding to you problem. keep you hands clean and dry. if you would like to wear gloves when you go to sleep use cotton gloves. also there is a company that makes the same type of stuff but it is called badger.
i say health food store because the less coloring agents and chemicals and perfume the better and you will find the quality you need at those type of stores.
also from a biological stand point you body is extremely dehydrated, do you drink? if so start drinking much more ,much more water.take a vit e and a supplement.star using good olive oil on your foods. cut back on refined sugar and white flour.
good luck...remenber it is not what is on the outside that is always the problem it starts on the inside. the visual results are only when it is serious enough.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Take VITAMINS A & E for dry skin. Drink lots and lots of water, literally.

AND, RUB SESAME AND OLIVE OILS INTO YOUR HANDS. You'll notice an improvement.
Joined Nov 19, 1999
No way do I drink alcohol. It would put me to sleep, and at my age I appreciate my energy:) I'm glad you popped in here, Kokopuffs. I was just thinking Vitamin E when I came up on your post. That sounds like a very good regimen.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
First of all, dump your dermatologist. I don't care who the **** he or she is, MAY is too long to wait to see a doctor. The very idea that you NEED to see a doctor implies some sense of urgency. Doctors like yours give the medical profession a horrible name. I have friends who think it's perfectly acceptable to spend an entire day in the waiting room of their favorite GYN or other doctor. My time is far too valuable and there are far too many doctors available for me to waste that kind of time.

I've found Lubriderm to be quite effective. The sleeping gloves paired with a cocoa butter-based ointment will definitely work well. I fully understand about washing your hands incessantly when you handle food - it's one of the requirements of the profession.
Joined Mar 12, 2001
My dermatologist told me to use the greasiest emolient I could stand. Anything that says "soft and silky" contains more liquids than you need. Bag balm was his first recommendation. He also told me to put it on, wear gloves to bed. Another lotion that helps is Lac Hydra. It will burn/sting when you first put it on, then follow it with a bag balm type that will seal the moisture in. Gloves are the final step. Just don't forget to wash your hands b4 you put contacts in in the morning.....
Oh another word from my dermatologist. If you suffer from dry skin, after you shower but b4 you dry off, pat plain old mineral oil found in the drug store over your body. Dry off. The mineral oil seals the water next to your skin. And no, it doesn't seem to stain the towels...


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
I used to have the worst looking hands in the world so much so that I would never reveal them on a date. Need I mention how painfull it was just trying to perform the smallest of tasks. I tried using the surgical gloves but there is a fine powder inside that helps in putting them on. This powder helped in drying my hands out even more. What helped was two things one was making sure I was the one on the line who cut up all of the Lamb. Yes, the lamb. The lamb fat has a high content of Lanolin and I used to rub my hands on the fat scraps when I could. Second I became religous in my applying of a good moisturizer especially at night. It took a long time but it eventually went away.
Joined Aug 10, 2001
thank you all so much...I will try as much as I can to take all your advice...I can't see how I could be dehydrated, but will definately cut down on the citrus. Ill post again in a couple of weeks if none of this works, and once again, my appreciation has grown bigger than my vocab allows
Joined Dec 30, 1999

I know May seems like a long time to wait for a dermatologist but Isuspect you're a new patient due to the length of time, and it will be well worth the wait.

chiffonade, sometimes we are limited by who we can go to under our insurance plans which is why it takes longer and dermatologists are certainly some of the most difficult to get to quickly so you have to plan ahead.

Please do not cancel your appointment! And once you're a patient, you will not have to wait so long for your next appointment. Be sure to check with your dermatologist's receptionist to see if you need a referral from your general practioner if you are using your insurance.

Have you had a history of any skin problem of this type? There are so many types of allergies.

I have a dear friend who has suffered from eczema (there are about ten types of this) all of his nearly 4 decades of life. When he moved to a new city, it took three months for him to get in to see a dermatologist and it had been a couple of years since he'd been to his last one so he was suffering pretty badly.

He's very educated on what works and what does not because he's had to live with it and the lack of effective medications throughout the years. You name it, he's tried it. He recently had his appointment and the eczema has been narrowed to atopic dermatitis. There are several brand new medicatons on the market. Within four days of starting medication, his skin cleared up, the best I've seen... ever.

Now, eczema may not be what you have, but the same principles can be applied...

Many suggestions have been made in this thread for over the counter products. The best out of all of them would be the mineral oil. You can get food grade mineral oil at any local pharmacy for a couple of dollars. Use this before you go to bed at night and as needed daily. Stay away from petroleum based ointments or lotions unless prescribed by a doctor. If you have an undiagnosed skin condition, petroleum based products can spread it.

Cooking is one of the worst occupations for anyone with skin conditions because so many of the things you have to do require exactly what you're supposed to avoid such as the following (direct from the dermatologist's hand out within the last couple of weeks):

Protect your hands. Wear gloves whenever you do dishes or housework, because soap and water, cleaning products and even dust can irritate your skin. However, rubber gloves tend to get hot and make your hands sweaty, so wear cotton glove liners inside the rubber gloves to absorb perspiration or find "allergenic gloves".

For information on latex allergy, check here and here.

Heal with hydrocortisone cream. If your skin is really inflamed and itchy, over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help soothe the itch. They may also diminish some of the redness.

With some types of eczema, sponge bathing is encouraged because this allows the individual to retain natural body oils and to help keep the skin from drying out.

I have not included everything on the sheet and it would be nearly impossible for anyone to live a normal life if they literally did everything that was ideal. But these should help you until your appointment.

Joined Feb 4, 2001
At last a subject I do know something about.

I started getting trouble with my hands about 10 years ago. I put this down to many years of washing up in hot detergent water. I think the skin just dried out and whatever natural lubricant there was has been reduced, possibly permanently. I have seen specialists in skin problems who all say eczema. Now excema is just a general term for skin trouble, ha,ha. The favourite remedy of these people is a steryoid cream and for me it worked, for a while. The cream has the effect of thinning the skin and after a time becomes ineffective, so you have to move on to a stronger version and so on.
I've tried many barrier creams, greases and moisturisers and some helped and some didn't. BUT don't use any one too long or too much. Having discovered Neutrogena I hit it really hard, thinking it was doing good. After a while things settled down then started peeling in a big way. I think the cream prevented the natural sloughing of skin cells so I built up a sort of tanned hide which then separated from the lower layers. It might just be my case of course.
The run up to Christmas saw me almost unable to hold a knife. I resorted to wearing Vinyl disposable gloves (all evening) as I am alergic to both rubber and latex. The buildup of moisture in the glove actually helped in the healing process. Another big influence is stress. As soon as the pressure of of Christmas was off and I had a 5day break, my hands improved vastly.
For those of you who have no skin trouble at present I advise using barrier and moisturiser to keep those hands healthy. It's easy to forget.
I hope this is of assistance to you.

Joined Jan 2, 2002
once i learned to not rub my hands dry, but rather clap them dry with the paper very gently. it prevents to scrub the skin every time you dry your hands.
Joined Dec 6, 2001
My dr recommended Cetaphil 2yrs ago as pool water was reeking havoc with my skin, and I am thoroughly convinced. It works great. I also use the bar soap. I like the hand cream over the lotion, its got a lighly greasy feel, but doesnt stay that way for long.
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