Dry, peeling cuticles are a very painful and look unsightly. Luckily, this is a problem that you can solve without spending plenty of time and effort – you just have to be prepared to give your hands a little TLC.
Moisturizing The Cuticles
- 1. Make a homemade cuticle cream.If you have time, you could make a very effective cuticle cream at your own home using some hand cream and oils.
- In the microwave, you will need to warm up a bowl of 1/3 cup of some hand cream, a bit of olive oil (or grape seed oil), and 3-4 drops of lavender oil (which you can find it in the health food stores) to a warm yet not too hot temperature to touch.
- Then, you need to apply a generous amount of this mixture to each fingernail and gently massage it into your nails, cuticles and all around the skin, spending a minute or two on each finger. The cream is very good for your hands (and feet!) and it’s going to keep your cuticles soft.
- You can keep and re-warm this natural homemade cream for up to 3 days in the fridge only if it’s stored in a dark glass bottle.
- 2. Get a hot wax treatment.If you can afford it, investing in hot wax treatment at some local nail salon could work wonders for your hands, cuticles and nails.
- During a hot wax treatment, you need to melt a special oily wax and then apply it to your hands and fingertips. Then you need to put a pair of plastic gloves and place your hands in a mitt.
- After around 10 – 15 minutes, you are going to remove your hands from the mitt and the wax is going to be removed, leaving the skin of the hands and cuticles feeling soft and gentle.
- You can also buy paraffin wax treatment kits and use them at home.
- 3. Use petroleum jelly.If you are trying to find some cheap but effective option for moisturizing the cuticles on your hands, buy a tub of petroleum jelly and then just rub a generous amount into your cuticles each night before going to bed. Petroleum jelly will soften the cuticles and it will also stop them from peeling, but it could be a little greasy to use it during the day.
- 4. Try essential oils.Essential oils could be very helpful in moisturizing the cuticles, while they will also smell great! Some of the most effective ones are orange oil and jojoba oil, while the tea tree oil is great for clearing up all the small infections.
- 5. In a pinch, you can use some lip balm.If you are out and your cuticles are bothering you, search in your bag a stick of lip balm and just rub a bit of it on your cuticles. It should provide some temporary relief until you could get your hands on some moisturizing hand cream.
Caring For Your Cuticles
- 1. Soak your fingertips in some hot water.Give your hands a soak in hot (yet not boiling) water or take a long bath. This is going to help to soften the cuticles and all the loose skin. If you want, you could add one teaspoon of vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice to the water. This can help to exfoliate any dead skin.
- 2. Push back the cuticles with an orange stick.Once the cuticles are softened, it should be easy to push them back with an orange stick.
- An orange stick is a small metal or wooden stick that is used for pushing back cuticles and clean under the nails. You can purchase them at the drug store or online and know that they are cheap.
- Use the flat end of the orange stick and push back the cuticles. Try to do this extremely gently because if you push too hard you might hurt yourself and make the cuticles even worse!
- Push your cuticles back until you are able to see the white half-moon shape (called the lunula) at the bottom of every fingernail. Don’t do this more than once or two times a month, because the cuticles are very sensitive.
- The metal orange sticks have to be sterilized after every use, while the wooden orange sticks need to be thrown away.
- 3. Never cut your cuticles.Your cuticles are very important – they protect the growth matrix of your nails (the part where the nails grow from) by preventing all the dirt or bacteria from entering. As a result, you need to refrain from cutting the cuticles and instead switch to pushing them back.
- Cutting the cuticles removes this protective layer and it exposes the nails to some infections. It also makes your cuticles skin harder and more prone to splitting and peeling.
- Don’t worry about your cuticles growing faster when you stop cutting them because this is just a myth. Their rate of growth is going to remain the same even if you stop cutting.
- 4. Regularly moisturize the cuticles.That is one of the most important steps in stopping your cuticles from peeling. You have to moisturize them at least twice a day, in the morning and at night.
- You should not forget that the cuticles are made out of skin (despite their thicker texture), and all skin has to be moisturized in order to stay hydrated and to prevent flaking and peeling.
- During the day you could use a moisturizing hand lotion that soaks in quickly and doesn’t leave the hands the greasy feeling. At night, however, you have to use a thicker cream or cuticle ointment in order to provide more intense hydration.
- After you moisturize the hands and cuticles at night, it’s a good idea to wear a pair of wool or cotton gloves when you go to bed. This prevents the cream or the ointment from rubbing off on the bed sheets, and the extra heat is going to help your skin to absorb the moisturizer better. You will wake up in the morning with very soft cuticles and hands!
- 5. If your cuticles are cracked and painful, you can use a topical antibacterial ointment.If the skin around the fingernails feels irritated and cracked, you may have some small infection. In that case, you will need to clear up the infection before the cuticles can start to heal.
- You could do this if you apply a generous layer of topical antibacterial ointment (like Neosporin) to the cuticles.
- Once you have applied the antibacterial ointment (which is more effective than the cream version), you need to wrap Band-Aid around all the affected nails.
- Leave the band-aid on during the night and in the morning you are going to notice that your cuticles look and feel much better!
- 6. Know when to consult a doctor.In case your cuticles are painful, swelling or have pus, or they develop red spots, you might have an infection which is called paronychia. In case you suspect that this might be the case, you should see a doctor as soon as you can as you may need a course of antibiotics to clear the infection.
Preventing Dry Cuticles
- 1. Protect the hands from cold weather.Cold weather could be very drying to your hands, which is causing your cuticles to peel and crack.
- Therefore, it is essential to pay special attention to protecting your hands during the winter, or any time you are experiencing a cold weather.
- You should always wear gloves when you are outdoors and remember to carry a small hand cream in the purse that you will be able to apply at regular intervals.
- 2. Keep the fingers away from your mouth.Those persons who tend to bite their nails or nibble at their cuticles are much more prone to develop dry and peeling skin around their fingers than the ones who don’t.
- You are also at risk to develop an infection, because your mouth contains bacteria that can easily transfer to the nails. Saliva also contains some enzymes that break down the skin, leading to additional dryness.
- Remember that the most effective measure that you can take to prevent dry and peeling cuticles is stop biting them and keep your fingers away from your mouth.
- To help yourself, you can purchase those special foul-tasting ointments for the nails. They make your fingers taste so bad that you will think twice before you bite them again!
- 3. Avoid drying agents.Having dry hands is definitely going to accelerate the cracking and the peeling of the cuticles, so you should make sure to protect them from any unnecessary exposure to the drying agents.
- Frequently washing the dishes in hot and soapy water could be very drying for the hands, so you should protect them by wearing rubber gloves any time you do the washing up.
- In case you don’t like wearing the gloves, then at least invest in some more moisturizing dish soap which is designed to hydrate your hands.
- Avoid acetone-based nail polish removers, because these sap the moisture from the nails a lot. You also should try to keep hand washing to a minimum, because frequent washing removes al the important natural oils from the surface of the nails and skin.
- 4. Choose your manicurists carefully.You have to be very careful when you choose a nail technician for your pedicures and manicures , because a poorly executed manicure will do more harm than good.
- Some nail technicians could be very rough with your cuticles and nails, which could result in soreness, cracking and peeling.
- If your nail technician tries to cut the cuticles, or tries to push the cuticles back too far, politely ask them to stop. They are your nails, which mean you will decide what happens to them.
- In case your nail technician cuts the cuticles and you end up with soreness or some infection, it could be the result of improperly sterilized equipment. If this happens, you should consider switching to another nail salon.