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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

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Two solutions (literally) for you -

1. A product called "New Skin" is a liquid that you brush onto or into cuts. It hardens and helps the cracks heal. It stings when you put it on, but after a couple minutes, you will forget the cracks. It will have to be re-applied, especially for a potter, but is well worth it.

2. Super Glue - a drop or two will also let you forget about the cracks. Surgeons use it all the time for quick bonding.

Both are also great for paper cuts that snag on every little thing.

 

To keep your hands (and feet, by the way) soft, put Bag Balm on them at night, and wear gloves (socks) to bed at night, and in the morning, you will have nice soft skin.

I hope these help, they should, those skin cracks can be quite annoying and painful, but i don't have to tell you!

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I have issues with cracked skin during the winter. A bunch years ago I found a product named Crack Cream. It is available at most major drug stores and on line. It is named Zims Crack Cream.

 

Another way I have dealt with cracks in my fingers is to: Wash your hand like a doctor does before surgery (hot water and soap). Apply your favorite First Aid Antibiotic and put a "Band aid" and then secure it with a water proof tape. The bandage stay on until I change it and I'm able to throw wearing the tape. I wear the bandages until the crack heals.

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Guest JBaymore

THE potter's hand health solution....... Bag Balm. It is ointment originally used for the udders of cows that are milked on milking machines. Lately it has also gotten kinda "trendy" as a "yuppie" hand cream........ so you can often find it in places other than an Agway (and overpriced in those places). Been using it for many years. Amazing stuff. Smells like crap. Works.

 

best,

 

.................john

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I used Bee Balm when I was working in dry Montana. My hands would really crack. Bee Balm was made in Montana. It is now distributed widely.

Best cream I ever used. One thing recommended to me was hoof repair, a cream found in ranch supply stores. I was given some while visiting the person recommending. It seemed really good too.

Marcia

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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

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Hi Char,

I have a similar problem from working with Australian hardwoods and after trying just about everything on the market I read a suggestion to use "Udder Cream" . It's used on milking cattle to treat udder cracks and it works a charm on my hands. My wife forbids me to have it in the bathroom as there is not a cow for miles around and she thinks that a friend or visitor may draw the wrong conclusion !!

 

Hope this is of help,

Mudlark

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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

I have a few suggestions that haven't been mentioned yet. In a 1960's Ceramics Monthly magazine I read about rinsing your hands in cider vinegar and it replaces some of the chemicals clay has taken out. I wash my hands and then dry them and the pour the vinegar on my hands and let them air dry. It seems to help, I also use petroleum jelly instead of lotion. lotion has water in it. I rub it into my hands after I finishing working and after the vinegar has dried and then again before I go to bed. I buy these thin latex gloves at Harbor Freight a box of 50 for ten dollars and wear them when glazing, they come in several sizes. I am a thin skinned blond and 58, my hands are soft and subtle, if I can do it so can you. My suggestions are for maintaining you'll need to get your hands healed first, there use to be a product called liquid glove that people used before they started working, it was a bit pricey for me. Denice (Wichita, KS)

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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

 

You received a lot of answers but I'll also put my two cents in. As and art teacher all day my hands are in water because I like to have my students paint. Then I "play" with my wheel in the afternoons after school. My hands have already started to crack. Usually I'm okay until January. I do use the bag balm on the tips of my fingers but then put band aids on instead of gloves for sleeping. I have used second skin but once you're hands get wet it comes off pretty easily. Plus it stings if the cut is fairly deep. It's a problem that drives me crazy. In school now when I clean up I use surgical gloves just to keep my hands dryer. Funny thing is it does not happen when the moisture outside is a higher humidity only when the weather gets cold and the humidity goes down.

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I've done the overnight cream and glove routine, and it didn't completely solve the problem for me. I recently read a suggestion that the cracking was caused by fungus. Tried Fungi-Nail and after two days of use, the bleeding cracks were gone, after a week of use, the thickened skin is almost gone. Not sure if it's the fungus medicine or just the oil base it's in, but it's working for me!

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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

 

I used to have a friend that always had cracked hands in the winter. I noticed one of his habits was to use soap everytime he washed his hands. I talked him into using soap only when he was going to leave the studio, have something to eat, or after the restroom. After about 3 weeks his hands stopped cracking, and he was able to work much easier. A lot of times people use soap, when it really isn't needed, and when it is used that way it constantly is removing the skins natural protections. I know that in this day and age soap or anti-bacterial hand cleaner is the norm, but personally I think it is over done. Bag balm works great by the way, as does Corn Huskers.

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In addition to working with clay, I bass fish so my hands are in water a lot. I had a problem with my hands/fingers cracking. Found a product called Working Hands by O'Keeffe's and it is wonderful. I order it online through O'Keeffe's because I usually order 6 tubs at a time an can get them at a better price there. It is also available at Lowes Home Improvement and Tractor Supply. I order the 3.4 oz green 'tub' with the screw lid. I've tried the tube, but it doesn't seem to work as well. Maybe because it's not as thick. It does sting a bit at first, but that goes away quickly. (It also works great on feet.)

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I found the fungal comment quite interesting. As a former nurse I used to hear dermatologists say that most chronic dermal problems were related to fungal invasion. I mean about 90%. Yes, you do have wet hands all day long and winter brings more misery but do think about the fungal issues and try treating it that way for a while to see if you have some improvement. All the barrier suggestions are useful and some type of barrier and skin softening agents should be implemented to keep the integument intact always. As for anywhere else on the body when you have chronic skin issues always think of the possibility of fungus invasion.

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avon has a hand cream that was suppose to last in wet conditions for 8 hrs. went into the skin nicely and lasted a bit for throwing, i use burts cuticle cream ( simalar to bee bahm) for cracks and really fill them for throwing. also I use a good hand cream before bed. good = no petro chemicals, it's worth spending $ on the good stuff!

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  • 4 months later...

I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

 

Have you tried throwing wearing disposable latex gloves on your hands ? Last year I bought a different clay that had lots of sand/grit in it and it hurt like the dickens using it on the wheel it felt like working with sand paper my fingers were raw after throwing one bowl !! I put latex gloves on , felt a little wierd at first but after a bit it was ok , I thought they would drag more on the clay but it actually worked pretty good. Might help to prevent the cracking and splitting too .

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Here in the Arizona desert (where humidity levels often get below 5%) dry cracked skin is a common problem about 9-months of the year. To combat dry lips I almost always have a chap stick in my pocket... when I first notice my hands starting to crack I generally scrape a chap stick across the crack (to fill it with whatever that waxy petroleum stuff chap stick is made of) as often as I can remember to do so. It's not particularly messy and if I do that often the cracks will disappear in a few days and regular hand lotion keeps it in check thereafter. Otherwise, it's bag balm... it is the best of the best and is the only one that works when my hands get really bad. It is messy (and has an odor that isn't the most pleasing) but a previous poster's advice about putting it on at night and wearing cotton gloves to keep the mess off the sheets is a good one. It's readily available in Walgreens, etc. here... make sure it's the real Bag Balm (the one in the green can made in Vermont) since none of the look-a-likes work nearly as well. A little goes a long way, so a small can will last you a long time. I have several friends that wear latex gloves when they throw and it seems to work for them... myself, I could never get used to the "sweaty" feeling of gloves.

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There several possible reasons for your skin cracking.

#1 Fungi in clay (most likely reason for your skin cracking)

Chaining the pH of your skin may help, try rinsing hour hands with vinegar.

or using a little tea tree oil in an olive oil base on your hands may help (test a small amount on your skin first, you may be sensitive to it, don't use tea tree oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding).

 

# 2. Iron oxide in the clay has the potential to damage cellular lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins in skin. Iron oxide also has an affinity for oil.

Try using a clay with less iron in it.

Make sure you get all the clay off your skin.

 

#3 Clay is a oil sorbent, meaning it will absorb the natural oils from your skin.

I wear nitrile gloves while throwing sometimes.

 

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http://www.uddercream.com/ I've been told its great - not tried though

http://www.aquaphorhealing.com/ Md/ derm had me use after surgery and works nice on super dry skin too.

If my skin gets too dry I also rinse them with warm/hot water then stick my hands in a jar of good ole vaseline and throw on some gloves before bed.

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I have started doing ceramics rather late in life..I am 67..and this is my second semester at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas studying under Barbara Frey. My first semester was spent doing mostly hand building and slab work, but this second semester has been mainly wheel work. The problem I am having is that my thumb and middle finger of my right hand are cracked and split on the ends making them very sore and tender. I have tried all kinds of lotions, but nothing seems to help..Does any one have any suggestions. I really love throwing on the wheel, but I don't much care for the tender fingers. Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks Char

 

 

When balms and creams don't work, you may try finger cots. These shore prophylactic like finger ends can be used until your hands heal. I used them for a while when in undergrad school someone threw a metal rib in the slop, and it ended up in the pug mill. I came out in little splinters, and while centering I cut open my palms and fingers, but still was supposed to finish the throwing. After that, I wire cut any clay I wedged and double checked every bit of the slop I threw out. Hard lesson!

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