More Than One Way to Heal a Skin Crack

December 4, 2009

In his Practical Pointer, “Take a Crack at Healing Fingertip Fissures” (CONSULTANT, March 2009, page 185), Ron Passeri, MD, recommended having patients try a several nights’ regimen of applying petroleum jelly to fingertip cracks and then covering this with 2 layers of adhesive bandages applied with a bit of tension. In response, 2 readers suggested strategies of their own. These appear below, along with Dr Passeri’s reply.

In his Practical Pointer, “Take a Crack at Healing Fingertip Fissures” (CONSULTANT, March 2009, page 185), Ron Passeri, MD, recommended having patients try a several nights’ regimen of applying petroleum jelly to fingertip cracks and then covering this with 2 layers of adhesive bandages applied with a bit of tension. In response, 2 readers suggested strategies of their own. These appear below, along with Dr Passeri’s reply.

Petroleum jelly is a barrier, not a moisturizer. More appropriate advice may be to substitute unflavored vegetable shortening, because shortening is an excellent moisturizer/emollient. I have my patients use shortening, and I recommend that all my patients with diabetes use it on their feet-especially their heels-daily, as well as on their hands on an as-needed basis.
-- Penny Flavin, FNP-BC, Pine Island, Minn

When cracks are particularly painful, a touch of super glue stops the pain and seems to enhance healing. I know of no formal study supporting this therapy; however, I have used it frequently myself-to heal cracks that develop when I play golf in the winter or work outdoors.
-- Lana Cunningham, RN, FNP-C, Abilene, Tex

These are both great ideas to help with this common problem. I’m sure there are other useful strategies as well. In addition, combinations of these various methods may be tried.
-- Ron Passeri, MD, Berlin, Md