Suffering from cracked fingertips? Learn what causes this condition, the treatment options available, and how to keep the cracks from coming back.

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Cracked Fingertips: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

06/09/20238 min read

Cracked fingertips can be especially painful and frustrating because you can’t just cover the affected area and forget about it like you can with dry skin on other areas of your body.

Sure, we’d all love to sit on the couch with our hands slathered in moisturizer and covered in soft cotton gloves while our skin heals, but that just isn’t feasible in today’s busy world.

Thankfully, there are a number of effective treatment and prevention options available that can help keep the skin on your fingers soft, supple, and pain-free even during the driest months of the year.

Table Of Contents

Symptoms Of Cracked Fingertips

Close-up of cracked fingertips

Cracked fingertips are characterized by extremely dry, often painful fissures around the cuticles, tips, or pads of your fingers. In severe cases, these fissures can tear and bleed with even the slightest movement.

But cracked skin doesn’t just appear overnight. It’s often preceded by other, less debilitating symptoms that can serve as a sign that you need to take action right away.

The early signs of cracked fingertips are:

  • Tightness in your fingertips
  • Red, flaky, inflamed skin
  • Pain (especially when working with your hands)
  • Discoloration in your fingernails
  • Brittle or broken fingernails
  • Thick, gray patches of skin

If you see these symptoms developing on your fingers, move to the treatment and prevention options outlined in this article or see a doctor right away to keep things from getting worse.

Causes Of Cracked Fingertips

Woman showing her dry, cracked fingertips

1) The Environment

If you’re searching for the most common cause of cracked fingertips, look no further than the environment. The weather where you live can have a dramatic effect on the condition of your skin — and not just on your hands.

Both hot, humid air and cold, dry air can pull moisture out of your skin and cause tight, itchy patches to develop around your nails and on the tips and pads of your fingers.

So, no matter where you live, the environment may be the prime culprit of your cracked skin.

2) Water

Though water plays a big part in keeping your skin soft, supple, and moist, too much water can actually have a drying effect that leads to cracked fingertips.

Overexposure to water — e.g., long soaks in the tub, frequent handwashing, or lots of dishwashing — can strip your skin of its natural oils and create the perfect environment for dryness and cracking.

If you have to have your hands in water a lot during the day, try wearing rubber dishwashing gloves to reduce the damaging effects.

3) Skin Conditions

Chronic skin conditions can also play a role in whether or not you’ll develop the dry skin that leads to cracks on your fingertips. Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and even fungal infections are common causes.

Psoriasis, for example, causes your body to produce too many skin cells. This, in turn, can lead to thick, scaly patches on your skin that may crack and bleed if not managed properly.

4) Diabetes

Though it’s primarily considered an endocrine (or hormone) disorder, diabetes can also sometimes lead to dry, cracked skin.

High blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels in your hands and feet. This can restrict the moisture that gets to your fingers and toes, leading to dryness and cracking in those areas.

Talk to your doctor to get your diabetes under control and to prevent the dry skin on your fingers from becoming cracked and sore.

Treatment For Cracked Fingertips

Drop of moisturizer on cracked fingertip

1) Moisturize

One of the best ways to treat cracked fingertips is to keep your skin hydrated by applying a moisturizer at least once a day — more, if possible.

Look for a cream with quality ingredients that can restore the natural barrier in your skin and lock in moisture at the same time.

For best results, apply a moisturizer immediately after washing your hands or taking a shower to really jumpstart the healing.

2) Try A Home Remedy

Home remedies can also be an effective way to treat cracked fingertips.

Three of the best options are:

  • Oatmeal
  • Honey
  • Coconut oil

For a quick oatmeal soak, add one cup of powdered, colloidal oatmeal to a bowl of warm (not hot) water and soak your fingertips for 10-15 minutes.

To take advantage of its natural humectant properties, cover your fingertips in honey (or soak them in a bowl full) for 10 minutes. When you’re finished, rinse the honey off your fingers with warm water.

Use coconut oil just like the moisturizer you buy at the store: slather it on dry, cracked areas to lock in moisture and speed the healing.

You can even combine home remedies if you like by soaking in oatmeal or honey and then massaging coconut oil into the affected areas.

The natural ingredients in these mixtures can help repair damaged skin, heal sore fissures, and get you working with your hands — pain-free — again in no time.

3) Apply A Healing Cream

While moisturizers often contain stronger ingredients, you can also look specifically for a cream that’s formulated to heal dry, cracked skin (not just lock in moisture).

Read the label and choose a cream that contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides. These ingredients can help rebuild and restore your skin’s moisture barrier so that the water in your skin doesn’t evaporate too quickly.

Consider applying the healing cream first and then applying a moisturizer or coconut oil over top to lock the ingredients next to the skin where they can do the most good.

4) Talk To A Doctor

If cracked fingertips persist despite your best efforts, talk to your doctor or dermatologist for more help.

They may be able to prescribe something stronger that can help heal the painful cracks and keep them from developing into more serious conditions, such as cellulitis.

Preventing Cracked Fingertips

Woman applying psoriasis calming cream to her hands

1) Wear Gloves At Night

A great way to prevent cracked fingertips is to wear gloves at night. First, slather your skin with a moisturizer, coconut oil, or cream. Then, slide your hands into a pair of soft cotton gloves before climbing under the covers.

The gloves will help keep the product from rubbing off on the sheets and blankets so it stays in contact with your skin longer, where it can do the most good.

2) Avoid Irritants

If you’re not careful, the things you use every day can set your skin on the path to dryness and cracking. Avoid these irritants whenever possible.

Fragrances and dyes, for example, can be too harsh for sensitive skin and might be a problem if you’re already suffering from dry skin on your fingers.

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the ingredients in your soaps, cleaners, and laundry detergents. Certain chemicals can strip your skin of the natural oils that keep your skin soft and crack-free.

3) Control The Humidity

As we discussed earlier in this article, humidity plays a big part in preventing dryness and cracking.

For best results, control the relative humidity — by adding or removing moisture — so that it stays between 30% and 50%.

Adding moisture can be as simple as boiling a pot of water on the stove and allowing the steam to escape into the air. Removing moisture is a bit more complicated and may require that you purchase a separate dehumidifier.

Some modern HVAC units also come with humidifier/dehumidifier settings, so check your owner’s manual to see if you can control the humidity that way.

4) Treat Your Hands Well

To help prevent cracked skin, treat your hands well whenever possible. This extends to more than just applying a moisturizer, avoiding irritants, and controlling the humidity in your home.

In fact, it encompasses your bath/shower habits, the amount of water you drink every day, and your sleep routine.

Try reducing the water temperature in your bath or shower, and limit the time you spend there. Drink plenty of water every day, and eat a healthy diet rich in good fats and oils. And, finally, get enough rest so that your body has the energy it needs to keep your skin functioning properly.

Wave Goodbye To Cracked Fingertips

Couple waving goodbye to cracked fingertips

Cracked fingertips don’t have to keep you from doing what you need to do every day. With the right treatment and prevention, you can enjoy pain-free activity and be comfortable in your skin again.

If psoriasis or eczema are contributing to your discomfort, try our Eczema Daily Calming Cream or Psoriasis Calming Cream to hydrate your skin to help heal the dry, cracked patches from your condition.

The ingredients in these products are gentle enough for all types of skin but effective enough to soothe flare-ups anywhere on your body.

With a little help, you’ll be able to wave goodbye to cracked fingertips and hello to smoother, softer skin on your hands!


American Academy of Dermatology Association
Mayo Clinic
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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