Ouch!!! Finger cracks, again?

There are several things about woodworking during the colder months of the year that I simply detest.  First, of course, is paying for fuel to heat the little shop.  The second, and significantly more painful, is the phenomena of cracking at the end of fingers caused by dryness and exposure to solvents associated with the building and finishing processes.  This happens to me every year.  And, strangely enough, it seems to happen more readily on the right hand (probably because this is the hand that holds the wiping and polishing rags, abrasives, etc).  No matter how much or what type of moisturizer I use, I will inevitably bump and re-open the wounds just as they are beginning to heal.  This is always accompanied by the utterance of some type of expletive, as it is a jabbing little pain that I wasn’t expecting.

This condition is certainly not unique to me.  Most of the woodworkers that I know, experience it, to a greater or lesser degree.  And, there are a number of companies that promote products that, purportedly, put a quick end to the condition.  There are probably multiple companies because no one company has come up with a non-fail method, to date.  In recent years, many of us have turned to adhesive products with names like Nu-skin, Tuff-skin or simply reach for the CA glue bottle.  It’s my understanding (not based on specific professional evidence) that CA is the same product used as veterinary surgical adhesive, and as a battle field wound adhesive.  That said, most CA glue bottles state that the product is not to be used in such a way.  But, many of us in the “old codger” fraternity will turn to this method when the more customary products fail.


If anyone reading this blog has found a method of quickly and effectively dealing with this problem, please share it.  You’ll earn the gratitude of a great many folks who suffer with this problem, year after year.

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20 Comments on “Ouch!!! Finger cracks, again?”

  1. millcrek Says:

    There is a product called invisible gloves or liquid gloves that I have used and it helps a lot, but you have to apply it often and it adds up. Lately I just use the super glue.

  2. tm162141 Says:

    we southern folk…er…or…we southern “half-back” to toledo from florida folk keep our finger cracks to a minimum using a old family favorite….CORN HUSKERS (use it freely) Lotion, this is a mandatory tool in everyone’s shop. if one sit at a potters wheel, as i do, one learns to keep the hands and fingers moisturized and i don’t mean hydrated! there is one more winter too i would like to mention….FISHERMAN’S FRIEND cough lozenges, truly a must !!! you can pick both of these up at both CVS and Walmart.

  3. Tobias Says:

    On man, I know what you are talking about…!
    What I usually do is simply cut off a thin (2 – 3 mm wide) strip of a medical tape (in Germany I prefer “Leucosilk” but any medical tape will do) and put it across the crack under some tension. I apply the tape towards the fingernail so looking at the above image I would glue the taps straight up from 1 cm below the crack put a little tension over the crack and try gluing it onto the nail. Do not apply too much tension so it feels uncomfortable…
    Benefit is you can continue doing things immediately and the crack is “stress relieved” due to the tension you applied. Works great for me but I would prefer not having cracks in the first place…

  4. Robb Smith Says:

    This paste for horse hooves keeps will make your fingernails more elastic than brittle and the skin on your hands will not crack if you use a little everyday. I put a dab in one hand and then dig my nails through it to get it under and around the nail. My grandmother did this before working in the yard so dirt wouldn’t get under her nails.

  5. Joe M Says:

    I used to get these “cracks” on mutiple fingers when pumping gas and also wet sanding out side at a auto body shop…I used to coat my hands in vitamin e cream and wear gloves when sleeping…if really bad then used first aid cream…the gloves kept the creams from drying out and getting all over bed sheets when sleeping

  6. Mike Hamilton Says:

    Not a preventative, but a decent treatment for me has been pure hydrous lanolin – if you don’t mind smelling like damp wool still on the hoof. A more refined version (smell wise) and all I can now find locally is nipple cream for nursing mothers – gets a 63 year old guy some interesting looks at the checkout counter…..


  7. Jim B Says:

    Overnight relief: Goop on the Vaseline then pull on a pair of nitrile gloves.

  8. Marsh Jim Says:

    I have this in spades every year also. They are like toothaches in the hands and need to be taken care of ASAP. There is only one product I have found to close them up quickly and that is 100% pure shea butter. The best I have used is sold by L’Occitane which is a french company. I am in the metro NY area and can find there stores in malls but I suspect you can find them on line also. It is not cheap but I can see major results over night. They are sold in a three pack of small tins (.25oz each) or some larger sizes. I would buy the three pack to try out and keep one in the shop and the others in strategically located spots like reading glasses. Try it and I
    think you will be satisfied with the results.


  9. Matthew Says:

    I am a frequent user of Lubriderm for my finger cracks. At least four times a day seems to prevent most of the problems, buy not always. I go through buckets of the stuff in the winter. Nice thing about it is- it does not leave you smelling like wet wool, nor does it leave your hands feeling greasy.

  10. Dustin Says:

    If they are that bad, I have heard Vaseline and gloves at night works, When mine dry out I use a good lotion daily after washing them and it seems to work. I think you should be wearing nitrile gloves when finishing, but I’m neither a Dr or Finisher.

  11. I have the same problem every year here in Vermont. This year I’m trying to be cicumspect about wearing work gloves. I found two kinds at Costco a few months ago. One is a heavy synthetic knit glove called “Chilly Grip” I think, with a thick, rough coating on them and the other is a thicker than normal nitrile glove with a fabric back. So far the Chilly gloves are working great for heavy stuff like stacking firewood, much better than any of the leather gloves I’ve tried. I used the thinner gloves last night while gluing some boards together. They worked great at keeping the glue off of my fingers.

  12. Russel Says:

    Buy a small (2 oz.) container of anhydrous lanolin from your pharmacist. It’s super cheap and natural. It takes a little work to rub in, but it works like nothing else I’ve ever tried.

  13. Robin Says:

    Had same problem on dairy farm while milking cows and no cream (including teat cream/grease) seemed to stop the cracking even though it kept my skin softer. Finally found something that worked – barrier cream – not sure why or how but definitely stopped the cracking next to my nails. No brand in particular – just got whatever barrier cream was cheapest at the local safety store.

  14. Kerry Says:

    Last winter I seemed to have finally found a formula that broke the cycle. As much as I like to work with my bare hands (even out in the cold), I have resigned to wearing those thin work gloves you can get at the box stores. I buy them in bulk. As soon as the weather turns and the air gets dry I wear them for everything. I NEVER work with solvents now unless I’m wearing nitrile gloves. The bare handed solvent handling is the worse thing you can do. You might as well pull out your utility knife and start cutting your fingers. It accelerates the drying in your hands instantly. Next up is fragrant free Aveeno hand cream every night in the winter. Now if I do get a crack, after the Aveeno, I use original Chapstick and jam it right into the crack. Its practically all healed by the morning. Only took forty years to figure out. 🙂

  15. larry porter Says:

    glycerin rubbed in several times a day may be helpful!

  16. Bruce McCrory Says:

    Very interesting. Did this condition start recently? Mine did–within the last 5 years. I am 62. Mine will split in the same locations as yours, almost heal, then split again almost radially from the same spot nearest the nail corner. It repeats through the season. I live near Seattle WA, and our dry season is summer, when this typically happens.

  17. Greg Mendonca Says:

    I live where it gets very dry and cold in the winter. My fingers alway seem to crack at the corner of my fingernail. Ouch! Constantly washing my hands does not help. Use gloves as much as possible and use skin crack care by Nexcare. Try this and I think it will help.

  18. Tim Shumaker Says:

    A retired coal miner in my congregation put me on to a simple solution for the cracked and bleeding splits in my dry finger–Chapstick applied directly to the cracks several times a day helps to heal and maintain the skin. Added advantage–you can keep a stick with you all the time ready to use, in your pocket!

  19. Bob S. Says:

    Lubriderm, not too much, after washing my hands–each and every time, without fail–has almost eliminated this problem for me this winter. I keep a pump bottle of Lubriderm by every sink. The savings in Superglue have more than paid for the Lubriderm. Trimming hangnails, rather than chewing and yanking them off, also seems to help.

  20. Laura Bean Says:

    Would love woodworking cracks.
    Mine are from food service.😉

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