healing split fingertips with wound-closure strips

wound strips 2SPLIT FINGERTIPS, ANYONE? Ouch. From the start of winter into early spring, that’s my main complaint, and nonstop snow-shoveling and serious cold do nothing to speed relief. I whined to an esthetician friend the other day, and she listened for a moment, then stopped me with two words: wound strips.

If you’ve had beat-up fingertips, you have probably gone through a lot of Band-Aids, but how practical are they, except overnight? They’re clumsy when typing, and when cooking, or washing hands—not good. If they get damp, the pad portion holds moisture, which doesn’t seem to promote healing, either; the little strips don’t do that. And ripping off a big old swath of adhesive from a split finger when the bandage is either wet or soiled, or you want to apply more balm? Ouch.

Instead, my friend said, just put the tiniest dab of something emollient on the troubled spot—Bag Balm or Farmer’s Friend or A&D or whatever you like—then cover the crack up with a portion cut from one of the many quarter-inch-wide strips in each package. (The breathable adhesive strips are usually used in multiples, to secure small cuts and wounds, and even after suture or staple removal to improve cosmetic results. I used maybe one-third of one strip–of which there are 30 in a box–per fingertip, playing with the positioning depending which way the finger was cracked.)

Don’t pull the crack closed forcefully with the strip, but rather start by lining up the skin edges, the directions say, then apply the strip to one side leading right up to the wound. Next, without any tension or pulling, apply the other half. With a crack under one nail, I positioned the strip as in the photo above. Remember: These little strips are adhesive, so use care when removing.

I can type with them on. If I wash my hands one too many times and one eventually needs replacing, no big waste of material. The narrow design of each strip is plenty to protect what’s injured, but not so much to get in the way. In unscientific testing on two very unhappy fingertips at my house: fast success. My experiment continues.

wound strips 1

  1. Louise Heern says:

    Hi Margaret –
    Greetings from 8,700 feet up in the beautiful mountains of Evergreen Colorado. You should know I live my new garden life vicariously through you! I have been quietly following your blog for several years now, ever since we moved here from what I now realize, was a zone 5 fantasy-land located in a suburb of Chicago. None of those rules apply up here – and I have (literally) been trying to garden between a rock and a hard place since 2009! Not to mention voles, pocket gophers, elk, deer, wind, hail, and no water – I could go on and on! While I am making progress (a fence, successful completion of CSU’s Master Gardener Program and outsmarting the voles to at least a manageable extent) I still long for some garden normalcy (is that a word?!) like spring in April (or even May) and flowers actually blooming before the first freeze – which is different every season and always too early. I have considered starting a blog as a means to ‘have somebody to talk high altitude gardening with’ (since all of my new neighbors think I am crazy), but have yet to figure that one out. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy and be inspired by yours!

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks, Louise. In the Intermountain region I have always been impressed by the work and books of Lauren Springer (Ogden) (like her “The Undaunted Garden” book) and of course Denver Botanic Gardens (though I guess they are in the flatlands compared to you!). Also David Salman especially — do you know his work?

  2. Marlene says:

    Thank you for this post! I have a great cream that heals my cracked thumbs, but the problem is always protecting the split skin until it heals. Your comments about the Band-Aids were spot on. I’ve put wound strips on my shopping list as I’m sure I’ll have another round before the week is out.

  3. Carol says:

    Thanks Margaret. My fingertips split from Oct. through March each year, and often drip blood. And, also, they hurt!! I will try your tip. Actually, I already have would closures in my house, in case I get a cut and need something as a stopgap before stitches. I am intrigued to use that for my fingertip splits. Here’s hoping!

  4. kim l. todd says:

    I have found that BLISTEX Daily Lip Conditioner (in a peach-colored pot) works great to re-hydrate the cracks and splits. I especially use it at night. I like your idea as well. Together I think it’s a great solution!

  5. Patsquared2 says:

    I thought I was the only one who suffers from this! Thanks for the tip. I’ve been using New Skin Liquid Bandaid but right now, dead of winter, cold and snowy, it’s not working. So on to wound strips! Great suggestion.

  6. Birdy says:

    Margaret, how are your hands? I contributed a post on this topic last winter, but I wish to revisit this issue to share a new (to me) solution. Ask your dermatologist for a prescription for 0.025% tretinoin cream. Every night before bed, apply your favorite hand cream (must be free of glycolic acid, vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid which interfere with tretinoin) then dab a pea-sized amount of tretinoin on the back of one hand and rub the backs of your hands together all the way up to fingertips. Always apply at night as sunlight interferes with efficacy. Wear a sunscreen on your hands during the daytime (I recommend PerriconeMD Photo Plasma). This is a 30-year-old topical treatment that I wish I had known about sooner. Start before winter when hands are less stressed.

  7. Birdy says:

    I am also having good luck with Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel Serum. One drop is enough for the backs of both hands in the morning before sunscreen.

    Different topic –I don’t recall hearing you discuss blackberries on your radio show(s). Cornell says they will grow in the warmer parts of upstate NY. You might enjoy interviewing John R. Clark at the University of Arkansas about their breeding program and the varieties they’ve introduced. (I’m a lowly blackberry farmer).

  8. Jegan says:

    I have been affected by this split finger tips for more than 3 years. Usually tip of the fingers gets dry and develop deep crack. Especially winter and dusty environment makes it worse. All the external remedies are for time being. But finally found a permanent cure from inside. The answer is “Avocado”. Yes, you read it write. Have this fruit in empty stomach every day and give it an hour before you eat anything. You can feel the difference in a month. it is 100% cure.

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