For many people, sore, cracked fingertips go – excuse the pun – hand in hand with cold weather. The temperature plunges, the heat goes on inside your home, and before you know it – the tips of your fingers, the corners of your nails, your knuckles, and the backs of your hands are red, splitting, possibly bleeding, and stinging like mad.

Winter’s low temps and humidity dry out our skin (a condition called xerosis). Retreating indoors where the heater is running constantly only exacerbates the problem.

If you are suffering from chapped hands and fingers this winter, relief is available. Here are four tips to see you through the remainder of the season until spring arrives:

  1. Moisturize: Certain OTC ointments and creams, like CeraVe, can help your skin retain moisture. Look for treatments that contain coconut or jojoba oil or shea butter. Apply the moisturizing cream to your hands and fingers at least twice daily, and directly after taking a bath or shower.
  2. Lock in that moisture: Petroleum jelly (i.e., Vaseline), is incredibly effective at locking in moisture, allowing dry, chapped hands and fingers to heal. Once you’ve covered the affected area with a layer of jelly, cover it with gauze or a sock. Like moisturizer, repeat several times throughout the day.
  3. Use a liquid bandage: Cracked, split fingertips that bleed and sting can make daily tasks, like typing, excruciating. Using a liquid bandage can seal deeper cracks, offering immediate relief and helping the healing process along. Be careful, however – liquid bandage sticks like glue to the skin – and everything else.
  4. Dry your hands thoroughly after washing. We know we just told you to moisturize. However, excessively wet skin can contribute to xerosis, causing irritation and cracking. Throughout the pandemic, many people have been washing their hands more frequently, while also using hand sanitizer – both of which can cause the skin on our hands to dry out rapidly. Consider wearing gloves if your job requires you to have your hands submerged in water for extended periods. And be sure to dry thoroughly before heading back out into the cold.

Chapped hands and fingers are a common frustration during the cold winter months. But persistent dryness and/or bleeding may be caused by other factors or medical conditions. If home remedies don’t do the trick, speak to a physician regarding lasting symptoms.