What Can I Do about Dry Cuticles?

Lainie Petersen

Dry cuticles can have a significant and negative effect on the appearance of your hands. To prevent dryness and cracking, you should evaluate the personal nail-care products that you use, moisturize your hands and cuticles regularly, and avoid disturbing your cuticles during home or professional manicures. Taking certain supplements may also improve the condition of both your nails and your cuticles. In many cases, you can dramatically improve the condition of your cuticles by using appropriate moisturizers and avoiding the use of products that cause dryness and irritation. When the latter isn't possible, you may still be able to address the problem of dry cuticles by covering them while using such products.

Regularly exposing the cuticles to nail polish remover can dry them out.
Regularly exposing the cuticles to nail polish remover can dry them out.

Cuticles offer protection to your nails, so experts generally advise that you not cut, trim, or even push them back. Instead, you can keep them healthy and looking good by taking care of your hands. One key contributor to dry cuticles is a failure to keep them properly moisturized. Every day, you should apply a heavy-duty moisturizer to the base of your hands, nails, and cuticles. People who have dry and damaged hands and nails often find relief by slathering their hands with a rich moisturizer at night and then wearing cotton gloves over their hands while they sleep. You may also wish to use an exfoliant scrub to slough off old, dry skin and to help moisturizers penetrate your skin more deeply.

Using gloves when washing dishes can help prevent dry cuticles.
Using gloves when washing dishes can help prevent dry cuticles.

In some cases, dry cuticles may be caused by household, personal-care, and nail-care products. If you use a lot of harsh chemicals and detergents when you wash dishes or do housework, you may be contributing to the dryness and irritation of your cuticles. If you can't switch brands, consider wearing gloves when working with these products. Similarly, some shampoos and body washes may have a similar effect. The nail-care products that you use at home or that your manicurist uses at your favorite salon can cause dry cuticles as well. Avoid getting manicures too frequently and never use nail polish remover that contains acetone.

A good moisturizing cream should be applied to the cuticles daily to keep them healthy.
A good moisturizing cream should be applied to the cuticles daily to keep them healthy.

You may have the most success in treating dry cuticles with topical lotions and changing your personal care routine, and the use of some nutritional supplements may also be helpful. Supplements that contain biotin, silicon, or MSM may be helpful in restoring nail health. It is always a good idea, however, to talk to your doctor before making changes in the types of nutritional supplements that you take.

Gently rub a small amount of olive oil into hands and cuticles to keep them soft.
Gently rub a small amount of olive oil into hands and cuticles to keep them soft.
Petroleum jelly is a great moisturizer for dry cuticles and hands.
Petroleum jelly is a great moisturizer for dry cuticles and hands.
The nail care products that your manicurist uses can cause dry cuticles.
The nail care products that your manicurist uses can cause dry cuticles.

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