Do you suffer from dry cracked hands? Then this is the post for you as today I’m rounding up the best hand creams for quilters as recommended by quilters!
If you quilt there’s a high chance your hands have gone through periods of scaly, tender, and painful times. This rings even more true if you live somewhere where the temperatures drop below zero, adding frigid, dry, and cold air to the mix.
Whether this is an affliction that you deal with on the daily or one that rears its ugly head when the weather gets frightful, having the right products and care strategy will make all the difference in getting you from pain back to normal (at least, that’s the plan!)
In last week’s newsletter (sign up here!), I shared that my Winter Star QAL quilt had stalled because my hands were in such a terrible state that I wasn’t finding joy in big stitch hand quilting the binding down (tutorial on how to do that here). Hand quilting is usually my happy place, but not being able to feel the fabric and thread was really getting me down. Being a tactile lover, I thrive on feeling the materials I’m working with. Since I wasn’t feeling the joy, I decided to put the project on hold while I figure out how to heal my hands.
You flooded my inbox with your suggestions and get better notes! It was super heartwarming and I especially loved that you took the time to share a little more about yourself too (that was the best!). As the suggestions rolled in, I quickly realized this was a common problem our quilting community has faced, and I couldn’t very well sit on all these recommendations for the best hand creams for quilters without sharing them back.
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When the skin problem started
How the skin issues start seems to be different for everyone. Eczema and winter were common reasons that popped up.
For me, it started a couple few years ago when I noticed my hands started to get spots of dryness. Almost like a callous was forming. I’m a big moisturizer, so I was surprised when this issue kept getting worse and worse. Fast forward to last Fall when I finally got an appointment with a dermatologist. They prescribed some medicated cream to help deal with the layers of scaly, thick skin that had developed. Yuck, I know 😉
This is where things got progressively worse.
Instead of just dry, scaly bits, I was now dealing with tender, cracked, and bleeding fingertips. And, despite using the medicated cream, the scaly and hard skin kept spreading.
It would get dry, I would apply the cream. I’d wait for that to soak in, then apply the moisturizing cream. I’d keep applying the moisturizing cream throughout the day: after I wash my hands and whenever it felt dry (which was always). I was going through the tube rapidly. And yet the dryness and cracking kept spreading. The more I applied the cream, the more the surrounding area got dry and the initial area got tender, red, thin and prone to cracking. The vicious circle continued. I started applying the cream in thick globs topped with a bandaid to seal that moisture in. It felt wonderful and helped a little, but I’m just never getting away from these cracks.
I’m not a doctor and this isn’t intended as medical advice. This list is simply intended to provide you with possible options for the best hand creams for quilters to consider in solving your own dry skin problems.
Most of these are new to me and I haven’t personally tried them, so make sure the ingredients are a fit for you before you decide to purchase.
Best hand creams for quilters recommended by quilters
Ok, in alphabetical order, here are the best hand creams for quilters that were suggested by you!
Acquaphor – this one popped up several times. Super easy to find online and at your local pharmacy.
Alfason Repair Cream – this one was recommended specifically for treating ‘cold eczema’. A little goes a long way. A great option if you live in Europe.
AmLactin – this one contains 12% lactic acid, which is known for helping the skin rejuvenate through gentle exfoliation. This is why this one made sense to me, it also corroborated what my dermatologist said to me about dealing with dry hands. They have a full line-up of products to choose from based on your specific skin issue.
Ammonium Lactate Lotion – this is similar to AmLactin in that they both have 12% lactic acid.
Antibacterial ointment – when the cracks are bad you can use an antibacterial ointment to soothe, protect and help heal the crack quickly. This stuff goes by lots of different brand names, including Bacitracin, Neosporin, and Polysporin.
Bag Balm – this one comes recommended by a quilter who’s been quilting for over 50 years and swears by this cream that was originally created back in 1899! It got a couple of recommendations actually!
Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream Lemon Butter – a great natural option.
CeraVe – in the jar not in the tube.
CutiBase – this is what my dermatologist suggested I use to combat the drying effects of the medicated cream. It’s a glorious cream that feels wonderful. It seemed to help when I put some on my cracked areas and then covered them with a bandaid.
Hemp Hand Cream – I have fond memories of The Body Shop, I used their lip balm tubs for years! So, I wasn’t surprised to see this cream recommended.
O’Keefes Working Hands – this one came up multiple times! I’ve been trying it out and what I love about this one is that it isn’t very greasy.
Petroleum jelly – a classic for a reason! This one was recommended multiple times.
Marin Skincare – this recommendation had me doing a deep dive into their website. I was fascinated by the marine glycoprotein they use which is found in lobsters! This protein enables lobsters to regenerate limbs, just like it helps you regenerate skin. Unfortunately, currently only ships to the USA.
Neutrogena hand cream – is best used at night as it’s quite greasy.
Olive oil – simply rub into hands and cuticles before bedtime.
Scholl Cracked Heel Balm – technically this is supposed to be used on your feet, but the concept is the same for your hands. Apparently, it works like a charm!
Vicks VapoRub – I haven’t tried this one, but I can imagine it being a little intense at first on any open cuts. I can also see the menthol being soothing.
Methods of hand cream application
In addition to sharing the best hand creams for quilters with me, you also gave me lots of pointers on the best methods of applying your cream and covering up your cracked skin.
Cotton gloves – this was a popular recommendation! Use your hand cream of choice (the ones most recommended was petroleum jelly and pure lanolin) and then promptly pop your cotton gloves on before going to bed. I’ve even been wearing them when I’m at the computer as I can still type with them on!
Cotton socks – this was another common suggestion, with some even suggesting they work better than the cotton gloves.
Liquid bandaid – apparently it hurts when first applied but seems to adhere nicely and keep your cracks sealed until healed. Start by applying cuticle oil on the skin around the cracks, followed by hand cream of choice and then seal with the liquid bandaid once the cream has soaked in.
Finger Cots – I was going through a crazy amount of bandaids, so my hubz picked me up a set of reusable finger cots. You can also find disposable ones, which are thinner and will probably give you more freedom of movement.
Wool mittens – there were a few specific mentions for using 100% wool gloves or mittens paired with petroleum jelly (or your cream of choice).
Top tips for dry cracked hands
Here are some additional tips that you shared with me on how best to combat dry cracked hands.
Don’t forget to drink! Not technically a cream but staying hydrated is super important in general, even more so when you’re dealing with dryness. Hydrating from the inside out is the best way to give your body natural assistance.
Use rubber gloves with a cotton lining to help protect your delicate skin from irritation. I can attest to the rubber irritating my already delicate skin. I’ve been wearing my cotton gloves inside my rubber gloves to limit the friction.
Be mindful of how you wash and dry your hands – there were lots of recommendations for blotting your hands dry instead of rubbing them.
Limit the use of hand sanitizer. I’m pretty sure this has caused my skin issues to worsen. It’s a balance on this one!
What I’m currently trying
I’ve tried quite a few things over the past year or so to try and heal my hands.
When I have wet chores to do (aka cooking, cleaning and dish washing), I cover my cracks in bandaids or finger cots and then use rubber gloves to keep everything dry.
At night, I slather my hands in one of the creams and use cotton gloves to keep them protected and allow the cream to sink in while still allowing the skin to breath through the cotton.
As you can see, you’re not alone in dealing with dry, cracked and sore hands. I took comfort in knowing I wasn’t facing this issue by myself and hopefully, through sharing this list of the best hand creams for quilters as recommended by quilters, you’ll find the best product to help you!
Please spread the love and share this with your fellow makers. And if you have a cream that hasn’t made the list but should, share it in the comments below so we can all learn about it 😊
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