Cracks in finger skin – cause, treatment, prevention | Pulpitis Sicca

Especially in the cold season, climbers' fingers are dry and there is a risk of cracks in the skin. We'll show you how to treat the cracks effectively and how to prevent cracks in the fingers and fingertips, also known as pulpitis sicca.

The fingers are probably the climber's greatest asset. The “beauty case” that many climbers carry with them is correspondingly extensive. It contains nail clips, sandpaper, tape, hand cream and disinfectant.

Advanced healing after one-time overnight treatment of pulpitis sicca
Advanced healing after a single overnight treatment.

If you get a “cut” or a crack forms on your fingertip despite regular care, your life will be limited pretty quickly. This makes it all the more important to avoid cracks in the skin. Why are there cracks in the finger skin at all? How do you get rid of the cracks and what do you have to do to prevent them from appearing?


You will find out in this article


Cracks in the fingertips and finger joints – what are the causes?

Before we fall into actionism, we have to find out what is causing the cracks in the skin. The following factors can lead to pulpitis sicca:

  1. Cold and dry (heating) air

One of the main reasons is cold and dry air. Both factors that play a central role in winter. This is exactly why many climbers suffer from cracks in their fingers/fingertips, especially in the cold season. It is cold and damp outside, while inside the air is very dry due to the intensive heating. Cold and dry air dry out the skin and make it less supple. Fingers that are subjected to heavy strain in this condition,  as is the case with climbing and bouldering, can develop cracks.

Vertrail smartphone compartment
In the cold season, the finger skin is particularly stressed.
  1. Detergent, soap, acid

Soaps and detergents attack the skin's natural protective and oily layer. It's not for nothing that climbers avoid washing up after dinner. Acidic cleaning products or the natural acidity of citrus fruits also tend to cause cracks in the skin.

  1. Dirt, wood

Regular contact with dirt and wood dries out the skin and also leads to cracks in the fingertips and hands. This contact usually occurs in combination with the cold outside. So for winter bouldering or sport climbing at low temperatures. Anyone who works as a gardener, carpenter or forester in everyday life is particularly at risk.

Cold, wet and dirt are a bad combination for the finger skin.

  1. Vitamin deficiency/iron deficiency

Another reason for cracked skin on the fingers is vitamin deficiency. Both vitamin A deficiency and vitamin C deficiency can promote pulpitis sicca. In Europe, however, a deficiency of these two substances is relatively rare. An iron deficiency can also lead to skin cracks. Women in particular often suffer from iron deficiency.

In addition, skin diseases such as neurodermatitis or predisposition can also be reasons for cracks in the fingers.

Vitamin deficiency as a possible cause of cracked fingers. (Image Freestock on Unsplash)-pulpitis sicca
Vitamin deficiency as a possible cause of cracked fingers. (Image Freestock on Unsplash)

How can you effectively treat cracks and cracks on your fingers?

Below we will go into how to prevent cracks, because this is the most important “measure” in the long term. However, if you are faced with a “cut”, we recommend the following procedure:

  1. Disinfect the affected area with a suitable product.
  2. Apply a generous amount of wound healing ointment to the affected area. We have had very good experience with the following products: Zeller balsam ointment or Vita Merfen ointment
  3. Now apply a waterproof plaster. This usually covers the crack better and is not as annoying in everyday life because it is thinner than normal plasters. It also keeps the wound moist, which speeds up the healing process.
  4. Make sure the entire hand is sufficiently moisturized with cream. If you can't apply hand cream during the day, use hand cream just before you go to sleep.
  5. After half a day, this process is repeated.

After 24 hours the crack has usually healed very well. Now it is important that you avoid putting any heavy strain on the affected area.

Zeller balsam ointment

Vita Merfen ointment

How do you prevent cracks in the finger skin? 8 tips!

Prevention is better than cure, everyone agrees. But how do you ensure that your fingers don't crack? A look at the list of causes suggests that the most important thing is to regularly provide your hands and therefore your fingers with enough moisture. This becomes difficult during the day because we can no longer work with our hands covered in cream. Ointments that are quickly absorbed can help.

cracks in finger skin_treatment_cause_prevention-pulpitis sicca
An acute tear on the fingertip is marked in red. Yellow highlights excess skin that needs to be removed.

Shortly before falling asleep, we recommend a strong, greasy ointment, the effect of which lasts for a long time. You can usually still feel the application of the ointment when you get up in the morning. The following measures also help against cracks in the finger skin:

  1. Remove excess skin (calluses) from your fingers using fine-grain sandpaper.
  2. Only wash dishes with dishwashing gloves.
  3. When washing dishes, use the gentlest possible dishwashing liquid.
  4. Use a pH-neutral cleaning product with the lowest possible acid content.
  5. Dry your hands well but gently, but not with a hand drying device.
  6. Avoid using hand sanitizer.
  7. Measure the humidity level in your home with a hygrometer. The ideal value is between 40 and 60%. If the value is too low for you, you should take appropriate measures to ensure that the humidity increases.
  8. If possible, always wear gloves outside so that your hands are exposed to dry and cold air as little as possible.

In addition to classic hand creams, there are also natural products that are used to care for the hands. You can regularly massage your hands with olive oil or coconut oil or coat them with a honey-curd mixture.

Have you had good experiences with other measures or products? Write us your tips in the comments.

Do you like our climbing magazine? We don't want to introduce a paywall in order to provide as many like-minded people as possible with news from the climbing scene.

In order to be more independent of advertising revenue in the future and to provide you with even more and better content, we need your support.

Therefore: Help and support our magazine with a small contribution. Naturally you benefit multiple times. How? You will find out here.

That might interest you

News

High-end climbing shoe for tough projects | Unparallel Qubit

With the Qubit, Unparallel has developed a new high-performance climbing shoe...
00:12:03

Intimate portrait of Japanese Olympian Miho Nonaka

A look behind the scenes: Join Japanese climbing icon Miho Nonaka on her intensive preparations for the 2024 Olympics.

Pou brothers and Micher Quito open new route in the Andes: Pisco Sour (640m, 85° M6)

Continuous 20-hour push: Brothers Pou and Micher Quito open a new route in the Andes in alpine style: Pisco Sour (640m, 85°, M6).

Common trail running injuries and how to prevent them

In this article, you will learn about common injuries when trail running and what you can do about them.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay up to date.

High-end climbing shoe for tough projects | Unparallel Qubit

With the Qubit, Unparallel has developed a new high-performance climbing shoe that really shines on steep and overhanging terrain. We are very pleased with the new...
00:12:03

Intimate portrait of Japanese Olympian Miho Nonaka

A look behind the scenes: Join Japanese climbing icon Miho Nonaka on her intensive preparations for the 2024 Olympics.

Pou brothers and Micher Quito open new route in the Andes: Pisco Sour (640m, 85° M6)

Continuous 20-hour push: Brothers Pou and Micher Quito open a new route in the Andes in alpine style: Pisco Sour (640m, 85°, M6).

2 comments

  1. Hi all,

    for me DERMOVITAMINA RAGADI is – https://www.shop-apotheke.at/arzneimittel/A4367097/dermovitamina-ragadi.htm?campaign=priceC/guenstiger/A4367097/NOCBP/435820587316787270&expa=gue – the tool of my choice.

    It closes cracks, scrapes, fissures and cracks within a few seconds.
    This creates an elastic, transparent and waterproof protective film that dries quickly.
    This film protects, relieves pain, promotes healing and prevents the wound from reopening. 🙂

    All the best from Carinthia
    Ramona

  2. I have good experiences with internal-flight.com products. I'm currently using his lotion bar to break down the tough skin on my feet and it's great. File + lotion. It is also completely different than most products I know. And one more thing: we shouldn't overdo it with the magnesium.

Comment on the article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here