Protect the hands in cold weather
Cold weather creates some real issues for outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone who works with their hands outside. Besides dealing with the cold itself, hands in our cold, dry environment are subject to finger tip or thumb splitting. These cracks can cause the hands to be extremely painful.
When fishing, we get our hands wet, and it can be very annoying because of the constant stinging. No matter how well you keep your hands lubricated with hand cream, you will undoubtedly encounter cracks along the nails of your fingers or thumbs.
The first thing to do, as mentioned, is to try and keep the hands moisturized. A good hand cream or lotion should be used frequently whenever your hands get dry. Even after you wash your hands and dry them off, it is a good idea to apply some cream.
My wife recommended a product called Hoof-Alive. It is a bit sticky for me. It is used to treat horse’s hooves. She swears by it, but I have not gotten past the feel to make it work for me.
I have tried all sorts of creams, salves and oils, but maintaining a regular moisturizing schedule seems to be my downfall. Invariably, you will get some finger splits during the season, because it is difficult to maintain a regimen of keeping your hands moisturized all of the time. Once you have these splits, there are a couple ways you can deal with them so that you can go outdoors and use your hands without further problems, and allow them to continue the healing process.
There are a couple products on the market that can help you out. The first is a product called New Skin. It is a liquid bandage that you can apply directly from the bottle with a brush-on applicator. It is a fairly thick material, so apply it sparingly and apply it a couple times directly into the cracks. I have to warn you, though: It stings.
The liquid bandage covers the crack and does not allow moisture to get into the open wound, thus allowing you to continue to use your hands without the stinging sensation. The only problem is that if you actively use your hands, the liquid bandage can actually crack and allow the wound to reopen. At this point you will need to dry your hands and reapply the liquid. Peeling off the old portion of the bandage is probably a good idea, but can be painful in itself.
A more permanent fix was recommended to me years ago by a friend of mine who works as a contractor. He suggested using super glue to close the cracks and allow them to heal. The idea actually comes from the medical profession that has apparently used this in lieu of sutures in some cases.
This really works well, although I often wonder if there are any issues regarding putting this compound into the skin. My philosophy is that anything used in moderation is probably not going to kill you.
The one thing I have found is that for fishermen, using a waterproof form of super glue, such as Zap a Gap, is much better since you will be putting your hands in and out of the water. This really works well and actually allows the splits on your fingertips to heal much quicker and is much less likely to crack like the liquid bandage.
Be careful when applying the super glue because you can stick fingers together. It is a good idea to have some nail polish remover handy just in case you need to free up a mistake.
Oh yes, this stuff stings as well when you are applying it. I guess there is no real pain-free solution once you have the cracks.
Give one of these a try sometime when you have finger splits and need to get into the outdoors to work or play. For fishermen, this can really allow you to still have fun when it is cold and dry.
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