My cuticles are dry and cracked. Sounds familiar? Don’t fret. Although split cuticles are the exact opposite of “pretty nails” and are often painful, not to mention that they make you susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections (fungus growth then causes yellow discoloration) especially if bleeding, you can take control over them with simple home remedies. Read on to find out how to heal cracked cuticles.
Dry Cracked Cuticles Causes
Dry skin around nails is the main cause of cracked cuticles. This may be attributed to factors such as dry winter weather, use of harsh detergents and chemicals, and excessive hand washing. Mineral and vitamin deficiency (unhealthy diet), and use of certain medications can also to cause dry, cracked and sometimes peeling cuticles.
Improper manicure can also cause the problem. For example, the use of acetone-based nail polish removers is known to steal the moisture from nails and cuticles while cutting the cuticles – something you should never ever do or allow your manicurist to do – can not only cause cracking and bleeding of the cuticles but also bacterial and fungal infections.
Lastly, dry cuticles and related cuticle and nail problems could be a symptom of an underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism.
How to Heal Cracked Cuticles
If you have dry, cracked cuticles (whether sore or not), the first step towards fixing them is staying away from the causative factors outlined above. After that you should then devote some time for TLC daily. Below is a comprehensive breakdown of how to heal cracked cuticles at home:
1. Use Neosporin for Cracked, Bleeding Cuticles
Serious cracked and bleeding cuticles are susceptible to infections and thus need extra attention and care. For this, you will need Neosporin ointment or cream (or any other topical antibiotic cream will as well do the job).
- Apply a generous amount Neosporin ointment or cream on your cuticles and then wrap a Band-Aid over the affected fingers overnight. This will help to not only curb infection but also keep the area moist and soft and thus help with faster healing of the split cuticles.
- One night is often enough but you can use this home remedy for 2-3 days.
2. Soothe the Split Cuticles with Coconut Oil
For mild cuticle damage, coconut oil is a great natural remedy worth trying. It helps to moisturize the cuticles and the skin around nails and strengthen the cuticle tissue.
- Apply a drop or two of coconut oil on each cuticle.
- Slide on a pair of plastic gloves.
- Allow the coconut oil to work in for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the gloves.
3. Use Honey, Aloe Vera, and olive oil mixture
Honey is known for its skin moisturizing, soothing and healing properties and so is aloe vera. Olive oil is also deeply moisturizing. Together, these three home remedies constitutes a great treatment for severely cracked cuticles.
- Mix equal proportions of raw honey, aloe vera juice, and olive oil.
- Apply the mixture generously to your cuticles.
- Massage it in gently for 5 minutes.
- Repeat this home remedy for split cuticles every other day until your cuticles get healed.
Apricot kernel seed oil can be used in the place of olive oil.
4. Wear Cotton Gloves At Night and When Outdoors In Harsh Weather
Wearing cotton gloves when working outdoors and at night can also help to prevent and get rid of cracked cuticles.
Cotton gloves maintain a moist environment for your hands while preventing the exposure of your hands to causative elements. Cotton gloves are especially powerful if worn after moisturizing your nails and cuticles.
Note: For protection against detergents and harsh chemicals, use rubber gloves that are lined with cotton when washing the dishes or engaging in other activities that entails exposure to these elements.
5. Apply a Commercial Cuticle Moisturizer
As you have already picked by now, probably, moisturizing forms a great part of cracked cuticles treatment since dry skin is involved in the majority of the cases. In addition to the at-home moisturizing remedies discussed throughout this article, you may as well benefit from one of the many commercial nail moisturizers out there in the market today.
Cuticle moisturizers are usually designed to deeply moisturize the cuticles while protecting them from vagaries of weather and other irritants.
- Apply the cuticle moisturizer of your choice 2 to 3 times daily until the cuticles get healed.
- For even stronger efficacy, you may want to wear gloves after applying the cuticle moisturizer, more so if going outdoors.
Tips: Look for cuticle oils or creams with vitamin E oil, jojoba seed oil, or sweet almond oil. Beeswax-based creams are also great. You can also use vitamin E oil on its own if you get your hands on it.
6. Treat the Split Cuticles with Shea Butter
Shea butter is also among the best treatments for dry, cracked cuticles, thanks to its powerful moisturizing and skin protection properties. It is especially a great remedy during the cold, winter season. There are many Shea butter cream products out there.
Simply apply the product of your choice generously all over the broken cuticles and nails regularly throughout the day and those cracked cuticles will soon get cured.
7. Stop Cutting Your Cuticles
Although cutting fingernail and toenail cuticles can make them longer and “more beautiful”, they can cause damage to the cuticles not to mention bacterial and fungal infections.
According to Dana Stern, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City, “The cuticle is the natural barrier to fungus and bacteria — and once you breach that, protection is lost”.
Cutting cuticles can also create a vicious cycle. Speaking to Cosmopolitan magazine, Simcha Whitehill, a nail care specialist based in NYC says, “Once you get into the habit of cutting your cuticles, you always have to cut them because they grow back quickly, but not as pretty.”
Those cuticle clippers are only good for removal of hangnails. For cuticle “removal”, dish away the nail clippers and instead use an orange stick (not a metal tool) to push the cuticle behind a bit – not too far still as this can also be problematic. It is also advisable to dip your hands in warm water for 10 minutes or so before pushing back the cuticles to soften them.
8. Apply a Neem-Based Lip or Nail Care Product
According to a research study published in the Brazilian journal of microbiology, “Neem leaf and its constituents have been demonstrated to exhibit immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antimalarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties.”
Of the most importance here are the antifungal and antibacterial properties of neem leaf extracts. Neem is also touted to be rich in vitamin E which soothes damaged cuticles while promoting healing.
For split cuticles treatment, you will need one of the various neem-based nail balm product out there in the market. Follow the steps below:
- Clean your nails and cuticles (let us just say hands) with water and mild cleanser or soap.
- Pat the hands dry.
- Apply generous amounts of your neem nail balm all over your cuticles immediately before the hands dry out completely.
- Repeat regularly for the best results.
9. Try Argan oil
This Moroccan miraculous cure for damaged skin is touted to be a great remedy for dry, cracked cuticles. Most bloggers and skin care experts suggest applying Argan oil overnight to clean cuticles. Applying a drop or two during the day is also helpful to splitting cuticles.
Try these home remedies for cracked cuticles first to see if they help. If they don’t them it is time to seek medical attention.
- Brazilian Journal of microbiology: Antifungal activity of different neem leaf extracts and the nimonol against some important human pathogens
- Cosmopolitan Magazine: Why You Should Never, Ever Cut Your Cuticles
- The Huffington Post: 11 Homemade Beauty Recipes for Dry Skin, Rough Heels, Cracked Cuticles & More
- WebMD: A Dozen Tips for More Beautiful Nails.