Skin on the fingertips can crack when it is dry due to harsh winds, cold weather, or a lack of moisture or fluids within the body, according to WebMD. Exposing the hands and fingertips to harsh chemicals or prolonged submersion in water can also cause the skin to crack and dry. Washing the hands in hot water and scrubbing too hard also depletes moisture and cracks the skin.
Chronic dry and cracked fingertips can produce pain unless treated or evaluated by a physician or dermatologist, explains WebMD. Patients can restore the moisture by applying moisturizer after hand washing or when the fingertips feel dry or itchy. An oil-based moisturizer or ointment that locks water in the skin may help dry and cracked fingertips more than a water-based lotion. People with dry and cracked fingertips should also choose gentle cleansers that do not contain additives that rob the skin of needed fats and nutrients.
People who are prone to dry and cracked fingertips can protect their hands by wearing latex or rubber gloves when submerging their hands in water or directly handling chemicals or irritants, suggests WebMD. Wearing cotton gloves for at least half an hour after applying moisturizer increases its effectiveness.