By Hannah Reich Berman
To everything there is a season, and we are now in the season of cold weather, which means possible blizzards followed by icy sidewalks and streets. This is not a favorite time for most folks but, having always been a winter person, it works for me. Until recently, I never minded the cold or the snow but, like most people, as I aged, the prospect of slipping on the ice became greater cause for concern. Worry about that, however, is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Falling on slippery surfaces is by no means the end of the story.
For me, along with many other unfortunate souls, this is also the season of dry fingers that develop cracks. In recent winters, that has been one of my woes. As soon as the temperature drops below 45°, the fun begins and my fingers begin to crack. One might justifiably say that these cracks are actually cuts. To me, they feel like the worst possible paper cuts. But they are not. I do not get paper cuts, or any other type of cut, on a regular basis, and certainly not on so many fingers at one time.
These are cracks that come without warning, appearing on the skin surrounding my fingernails. The worst offenders are the thumbs and the index fingers. The skin on those digits arbitrarily decides to split open. I don’t know if any one finger confers with any other finger, and I also have no idea when they make the decision to crack open, but they do it every winter. Anyone who has never suffered this condition will be hard-pressed to understand what it feels like. The pain caused by these cracks defies description. Sometimes the cracks extend under the fingernails, and that is a worst-case scenario. Suffice it to say that the cracks are so deep and wide that I once looked inside and was pretty sure I could see clear through to China.
Hopefully, no well-meaning person will offer any suggestions or make any recommendations, as I have heard them all—and tried them all. I purchased a terrific cream known as Working Hands. It is a great product and it works like a charm on dry, chapped hands but it does nothing for my cracked fingers. I have no idea how this cream knows that it is being applied to the skin on fingers as opposed to the backs of my hands, but it does know. In the event that anybody chooses to ask me the usual questions, let me stop you by giving you the following facts: I moisturize constantly, I wear rubber gloves when I do the dishes, and I never leave the house without wearing thick, warm gloves. That should do it for the well-meaning people who simply wish to help. There is no need to bother!
There is, however, some good news. Most problems do have solutions, and cracked fingers are no exception. Some folks go with solution number one, the “ointment and band-aid” regimen. A friend of mine who suffers from the same condition usually has anywhere between three and five band-aids on her fingers at any given time between November and April. Attractive, it is not! I am not identifying her by name because she prefers to remain anonymous. I do not have the heart to tell her that she is anything but anonymous since, all winter long, she looks like a walking ad for Johnson & Johnson or Curad. All people have to do is look at her fingers and they will know that, unless she has recently plunged her fingers into a vat of acid, she has the dubious distinction of being a member of the cracked-fingers club.
As a public-service message, I will share with my readers solution number two. This is the one that I have selected. My choice is to use Krazy Glue! It does not burn or sting in any way, and it is not dangerous. Surgeons have been known to make use of glue in the operating room after surgery. And I figured if it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for me. I am not certain that they actually use Krazy Glue; they may be using glue that is sterile, but my guess is that it does not much matter. It is unlikely that whatever is in the glue will find its way into my system but, whatever the risk is, I am willing to take it and am happy that I do. I have been doing it for years.
As winter approaches, most people make sure they have gloves, hats, and scarves. Responsible citizens check to be sure they have a shovel to keep in their garage and another one for the trunk of their car in case they get stuck in a snow bank and need to shovel the car out. In that same trunk, the shovel usually sits next to another winter supply, a long-handled item that is a combination of brush and scraper. Some type of ice-melt product is also a winter necessity, but some folks go the cheaper route by buying cat litter or bags of sand—anything that will prevent themselves and others from slipping on an icy front walk or steps.
All of the above are items that most people typically stock up on. But not everyone is concerned strictly with the snow and ice. As the season approaches, some of us buy other things. Each November, my friend makes sure to have plenty of ointment and band-aids, and my first order of business is to be sure to have a large supply of Krazy Glue. In a pinch, l would be willing to use any glue at all, but since Krazy Glue has always worked for me, that is always my first choice. That’s the way it is.
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.