Dry Cuticles: Causes, Prevention, and How to Get Rid of Them.

Like the rest of the skin, cuticles can get dry and suffer from other related problems such as peeling, flaking, and itching among others. Unfortunately, most people pay a lot of attention to the nails but neglect their cuticles until it is too late and they have become dry or even cracked, peeled and ragged. Read on to find out what is good for dry cuticles.

Dry Cuticles Causes

Even as you embark on measures to combat drying of cuticles and restore their look, you need to understand the factors that possibly caused the drying and other symptoms in the first place. Among the most common causes of dry nail beds and cuticles are:

  • Contact with drying agents: You can get dry cuticles when you expose your hands to harsh chemicals and household products ranging from detergents to acetone-based polish removers. If you got dry cuticles after manicure, then you know the possible culprit now, don’t you? Some soaps could also irritate and dry the cuticles.
  • Repeated wetting and drying of your hands: If you are constantly working with water, be it from dishwashing, gardening, hair styling (salon workers), etc., you could also develop dry cuticles and nailbeds.
  • Dry weather: Winter months are known to particularly cause or worsen drying and fraying of cuticles and nails.
  • Biting and licking at your fingernails: If you are constantly nibbling on your fingernails, then you know a potential answer to the question “why are my cuticles so dry?” This not only violate the integrity of your nails and cuticles but also puts you at risk of infection. As Dr. Bruce Robinson notes, saliva enzymes can break down the skin and create an entry point for the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Infection: Sometimes dry cuticles are a sign of infection of the nail bed e.g. fungal infection.

How to Get Rid Of Dry Cuticles

Sitting on your nails matrix, the part that grows out, nail cuticles serve an important role in protecting your nails from foreign bodies and infections. Also, despite their characteristic different look, cuticles are part of your skin. This means that they are just as prone to damage as any other part of the skin. They thus need your TLC. If you have fallen short in this regard and have dry cuticles to show for it, then below are some DIY measures that you can embark on to get rid of the problem.

Give the Drying Agents a Big Miss

If you have been getting exposed to any of the possible irritants mentioned above, it is time you cut down your contact with them to see if this helps to improve your condition:

  • Wear gloves when washing dishes, gardening, or working on chores that involve exposure to water or chemicals. Rubber gloves are particularly good for protection against water and chemicals.
  • Avoid acetone-based polish removers. These days there are numerous natural, acetone-free remover products such as the ones by Karma Naturals and Pure Body Naturals.
  • Wear warm cotton gloves during cold weather.
  • Avoid biting, sucking, and picking at your nails and cuticles. There are numerous products – with a foul tasting substance added – designed for the purpose on the market today but wrapping a Band-Aids around the frequently bitten or sucked finger can also work. In case of a hangnails, simply trim it at the base with a sterile pair of scissors.
  • Use gentle soaps: If you use anti-bacterial soaps, switching to gentle cleansers may also help to fix and prevent dry cuticles. For dishwashing, you may benefit from one of the ever rowing range of products designed to cleanse the utensils while at the same time moisturizing your hands.
  • If possible (or acceptable), take a break from nail polishes for some time to see if this helps to abate the problem. Once the nails heal (during the break), you can then resume your manicure or pedicure regimen.

Moisturize the Cuticles

Moisturizing is arguable the gold standard of dry, cracked cuticles treatment. Use whatever creams, oils on ointments you can get to your advantage. Below are some recommendations:


Vaseline comes at the top of moisturizers recommended by dermatologists and skin care experts for healing of dry cuticles and nails.  It is not only a favorable thick ointments but also cheap. You will especially want to moisturize your cuticles every time you wash your hands.

The downside to Vaseline however is that it is messy and not ideal for all times. For example, it would be hard to work on a computer with your cuticles all-slathered up in Vaseline.

If not practical to use Vaseline – or any other petroleum jelly or ointment for that matter – doing the day, work it into your cuticles at night and sleep with it on and use a lighter lotion or hand cream or during the day. You will also like to wear a pair of gloves over the moisturized hands overnight. This seals in het and increase the efficacy of Vaseline while protecting your beddings.

Hot Wax Treatment

If you are willing to spend some cash on your cuticle healing and care, hot wax treatment is a good way to go.

It is usually offered at nail salons and involves dipping your fingernails in melted oily wax just as the name suggests. After treatment with the wax, the fingernails are then covered with plastic gloves and a mitt to retain in the heat. This lasts for 10-15 minutes, after which the nails and cuticles not only fee hydrated but also softer.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is arguably the best oil for dry cuticles repair. It not only helps to heal dry (even cracked or peeling) cuticles but also strengthen brittle nails. One great advantage of olive oil (as well as essential oils the likes of tea tree oil and orange oil) is that they sink deep into the nail beds.

Below is a guideline on how to fix dry nails beds and cuticles at home with olive oil:

  1. Wash your hands (or feet) with warm water, then pat dry.
  2. Soak them in extra virgin oil for 10 minutes or so, then leave them to dry naturally.
  3. Repeat this DIY treatment once daily until the cuticles get cured. After 4 weeks (assuming you are not yet fully healed), you may switch to once-a-week treatment.

Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E oil can also do the trick. Simply apply it twice daily until the problem gets fixed. Don’t forget to massage the oil into your cuticles at night before you sleep.

Shea Butter

Shea butter creams are also superstars when it comes to dry cuticles cures. Apply once or twice daily. You will in particular want to apply the Shea butter cream of your choice at night and then wear a pair of thick cotton gloves overnight for the best treatment.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is hands down the best essential oil for dry cuticle. With proven antibacterial and antifungal properties, tea tree oil is particularly good for cases that involves cracking. To use it for the purpose, add 5 drops of the essential oil to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then massage the mixture on the affected cuticles and nail beds. Repeat once daily until the problem gets fixed.

Cuticle Oil or Cream

You can also use one of the many products out there formulated to keep your cuticles hydrated and healthy e.g. CND SolarOil.


The hydrating and skin softening ability of milk is also touted to be very helpful to dry cuticles. Milk is best used alongside honey. Simply mix a teaspoon of honey with 1 tablespoon of milk, stir thoroughly, and work the resulting mixture into your cuticles and nails once or twice each day.

Aloe Vera, Honey, and Olive Oil Remedy for Healing Of Dry Cracked Cuticles

The healing power of aloe vera is unrivalled. It not only helps to soothe but also moisturize irritated and cracked skin while keeping infection at bay. Honey on the other hand is a natural humectant and thus draw water to the skin when used topically. Finally, olive oil is an amazing cuticle moisturizer. Below is how to get rid of dry cuticles with these three remedies in combination:

  1. Mix one tablespoon each of aloe vera juice, honey, and olive oil.
  2. Stir thoroughly till well blended.
  3. Apply all over the affected cuticles.
  4. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse off with water.
  5. Repeat the process every other day to effectively heal dry cracked (or peeled) cuticles.

That is what it takes to fix dry cuticles. Try these remedies to see which one works best for you. If none of them works, seek medical attention.