Good Morning, Instapundit Readers! Have a spooky and well-watered Halloween.

Drink more water. I know this. I forgot this. I am now nursing a cracked thumb.

On average I need at least 100 ounces of water and other non-sweet, non-milk liquids a day. I live in a dry climate, and I happen to be “wetter” than a lot of people. I am not diabetic or pre-diabetic. I just need a lot of water to be happy.

Last week I ran low.

As a result, my skin got dry and my thumb split*, plus a few other minor things. I had been at Day Job more than usual, and on a schedule that precluded refilling water bottles or “draining the crankcase.” So I didn’t drink as much. Plus I was busy, and I was going to make up for it when I got home. Except then I’d start working on the computer and forget to drink. Or I’d do chores, or work in the yard, and forget to drink. And then it was bedtime.

Don’t do that.

For those of us who are moving from “summer” to “run heater occasionally,” it can be hard to remember that we lose water as fast in cooler weather. However, at least around here, autumn is often crisp and dry as well as chilly. You know, good weather for making jerky in the back-yard. Alma-jerky is not as desirable. Then the heater starts getting used more, and that dries out the air indoors, while the dew-point/frost-point drops outdoors. And so we get dry without thinking about it, because we are not sweating.

Drink water, diet stuff, water and juice (more water than juice), whatever you like. Just stay hydrated at whatever level is best for you. Or you too will be slathering your skin with thick lotion or cream every hour.

Drink. Drink happily. My friends, do not – no matter what the commercial says – stay thirsty.

*This is like a self-induced papercut minus the paper. It stings just as much and takes longer to heal.


14 thoughts on “Hydrate!

  1. OW! My sympathies. My wife and son have this sort of problem as well. I, of course, being of (apparently) Hungarian extraction, am naturally immune. I don’t quite have Soul Glow levels of oiliness, but I’m not that far from it, neither.

  2. I feel your pain. My fingers have been cracking for the last few winters, and one finger never completely stopped this past year. Every lotion I’ve tried seems to make me break out, which only makes the cracking worse. Hydrocortisone seems to be the only thing that helps. I drink plenty of fluids, so hydration doesn’t seem to be the issue.

    • Raw shea butter is cheap as heck on Amazon and seems to turn the trick while actually absorbing enough into the to not be greasy. It also has the advantage of being a natural sunscreen.

    • I’ve been having luck with coconut oil– just the cheapest coconut cooking oil I can find. Good enough that I screwed up and did a lot of cleaning that involved TOUCHING the baking soda, so my thumb is now half-cracking. /sigh

  3. On those occasions when I’ve had winter skin cracks I’ve found the best thing is disinfectant ointment. For my cracks it seems that the crack involves some infectious agent and the ointment lets the crack close in a day or so. I don’t know if your case is the same, but I’m passing the experience along.

    • I don’t have the infection problem, thanks be. I’m currently using the semi-generic version of Eucerineâ„¢ and it works very well. I’m not fond of the scent, but it fades quickly.

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      • My cracks don’t show a visible infection. The only reason I even tried the ointment was prophylaxis. I didn’t expect a four-day-old crack to close in less than eighteen hours, but it did.

  4. My family has had good luck with lanolin for this sort of skin issue. Sometimes lanolin aided by salt water soaks. Lanolin is sold for nursing mothers, which is how I originally discovered it. Of course, if you’re allergic to wool you probably can’t use it.

    • Yup, lanolin in udder balm form for cracks in the skin, or for lip balm. (Because normal lip balm includes stuff to make the old skin slough off, which I do not like.)

      The rest of the time, when my skin is not cracked, I am big on a certain group of moisturizers with the same recipe ingredients, because the other recipes do not work as well for me. (I think this is true for a lot of us, which is why there are so many different kinds.) Fall and early winter are my big times to need moisturizing.

      Guys — if you need this stuff and do not know what kind will work, you can always but a bunch of different sample sizes and try them out. (Check the ingredient list to find out if they are really different, or just have different labels and brand names.). Once you find out what ingredients work for you, buy the cheapest kind of big tube/bottle with those ingredients.

  5. Lanolin and ointments work but are greasy and unpleasant. And may be the only option for some.

    Try a cationic lotion with petrolatum in the ingredient list first; it may be sufficient. Best example is Curel, there are others. Cationics can be identified by an ingredient with -onium in its name (often ammonium, like distearyl dimethyl ammonium -or dimonium- chloride), but the key is that the listing also includes petrolatum somewhere in the top 5 ingredients. The cationic emusifier system allows waxy ingredients like petrolatum to be incorporated into cosmetically pleasant -not greasy- lotions. The waxy materials slow water loss from the skin, just as Eucerin does. The problem with most (almost all) lotions is that they use mineral oils, not waxes, and the oils just aren’t as effective at reducing insensible water loss. Heavy ointments (Eucerin) work well, but are cosmetically inelegant and unpleasant feeling, and thus are avoided.

    Cationic lotions tend to be more expensive than anionic ones, and there are only a few (two or three). The vast majority of heavily promoted lotions (Vaseline Intensive Care, etc) are the much less effective anionics with mineral oil.

    If you’re fortunate, you’ll find that a cationic works and is cosmetically acceptable.

    One other point. Take a look at your cleaning products. The classic soaps (Ivory, etc) are notorious for stripping skin oils and causing dermatitis. In fact, frequent washing with Ivory soap is how we induce dermatitis in the lab for testing. Most dishwashing liquids, though surfactants rather than soaps, are also very good strippers; that’s the point of them, after all. Switch to a mild dematologic soap (Aveeno) and shampoo (baby shampoo). If your hands are especially susceptible to cracking, always use rubber gloves when using cleaning products.

    The keys to treating dry skin is to avoid removing natural skin oils and add an effective additional barrier to prevent insensible water loss.

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