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Will Your Cracked Fingertips Heal With Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is helpful in healing wounds, from burns to split fingertips. It discourages bacterial growth and helps cuts close more quickly.
A macro photo of a beautiful Manuka flower (Leptospermum scoparium, or New Zealand teatree), a source of wonderful Manuka honey

In the winter, many people suffer from dry skin. Beyond that, their painfully cracked fingertips may interfere with typing, buttoning clothes or doing any other fine tasks. Some people have developed ingenious remedies for this problem. They may apply lip balm to the fingers or use a greasy moisturizer like Vaseline at night. (Wearing cotton gloves to bed can help protect the sheets and keep the moisturizer where it can do the most good.) Certain individuals find that applying instant glue to the splits helps them heal more quickly. A reader recently alerted us to the healing potential of manuka honey.

How Can You Heal Cracked Fingertips?

Q. I have deep cracks on the sides of my thumb and first finger. They get so sore that I am barely able to hold a pen or pencil to write.

A friend of mine urged me to use manuka honey then cover it with a bandage. Manuka honey is used in burn units to aid healing. My crevices closed up within a couple of days. It’s amazing.

What Is Manuka Honey?

A. Manuka honey comes from New Zealand, where bees visit the flowers of the manuka bush, Leptospermum scoparium. This special honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant activity. As a wound dressing, it stimulates the immune system to help build new tissue (Current Drug Metabolism, Oct. 2017). This medicinal honey can inhibit bacterial biofilm formation, which could be critically important in treating wounds (Scientific Reports, Dec. 3, 2019). Such biofilms might not be important in the development of fingertip splits, but they are a factor in maintaining chronic wounds.

In addition, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials concluded that honey dressings are helpful for treating burns (Burns, Feb. 2017). This review produced evidence that manuka honey speeds healing of burns better than the gold standard of burn treatment, silver sulfadiazine.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Niaz K et al, "Health benefits of manuka honey as an essential constituent for tissue regeneration." Current Drug Metabolism, Oct. 2017. DOI: 10.2174/1389200218666170911152240
  • Lu J et al, "Honey can inhibit and eliminate biofilms produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa." Scientific Reports, Dec. 3, 2019. Scientific Reports, Dec. 3, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-54576-2
  • Aziz Z & Abdul Rasool Hassan B, "The effects of honey compared to silver sulfadiazine for the treatment of burns: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials." Burns, Feb. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.burns.2016.07.004
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comments (13 total)
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I have had great success with O’Keefe’s Working Hands. About a half teaspoon at bedtime eliminated all finger cracking. Greasyness disappears in about 5 minutes so wearing gloves in bed is not necessary. Available at most drugstores and Amazon.

I make my own soap. I gave a bar to a friend who makes quilts and often has cracks in her fingers. The soap I made healed her cracks. Perhaps using homemade soap will help.

The Ancient Greeks used a mixture of honey and olive oil to dress wounds after battle as early as 450 BC. Honey of all sorts is designed by nature to ward off bacteria to avoid spoilage. It would be interesting to see comparisons of orange, sage, olive, almonds, and mixed urban honeys compared to manuka honey.
Being an exotic honey from far away, it reminds me of the old definition of an expert: someone from out of town with slides (power points, today).

I have found that taking collagen orally and using petroleum based cream on my hands daily has cured my finger tip cracks. I also wear gloves to wash dishes or do any type of cleaning.

A liquid bandaid product is the only thing that has worked for me, and it works very well.

Where the heck can I find “Manuka Honey?”

I suffer with heel cracks in the winter. Possibly this would work? Where do you get this product?

All raw honey will help with cuts and burns. No need to spend a ton of money on Manuka honey. Just be sure it is raw unprocessed honey

Seems like a terrible waste of yummy manuka honey! Do you or your readers have a problem with topical antibiotic cream? It’s inexpensive, easy to use, absorbs nicely (no need to wear gloves, etc.), and does the trick quickly.

Amazing! Might we use local honey on wounds? Or is this type of honey that much better? I was under the impression that all honey was antibacterial. Please explain. Thank you.

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