There’s nothing that can ruin a great manicure like dry, cracked, or bleeding cuticles. Even if you have never had a nail-biting or cuticle-picking problem, cold winter weather can make dry cuticles hard to avoid. Add additional stress to the dry winter weather and it’s a surefire recipe for cuticle disaster.
As someone who sticks to at-home manicures and has a bad habit of picking at the skin around my nails, red and peeling cuticles have always been a point of embarrassment. It’s the one thing that can quickly make even the best nail polish or the healthiest nails look less neat. According to board-certified dermatologist Zain Hussain, M.D., there are a handful of reasons why someone’s cuticles may not be in tip-top shape during winter months.
“Some of the most common causes of dry cuticles are not moisturizing the area, washing hands too often, using hand sanitizer, using nail polish remover, nail-biting or cuticle-biting, certain medications, malnutrition, cold weather, and eczema,” explains Dr. Hussain.
When you consider what 2020 looks like—hand sanitizer everywhere, DIY manicures galore, and excessive hand-washing—it’s no wonder that some of us may be dealing with cuticles that look and feel worse than ever. Dr. Hussain says cuticle damage can also be due to unhealthy stress-relief habits.
So how do you fix them? According to Dr. Hussain, the best way to treat cracked or peeling cuticles is through prevention. This means that finding alternatives to any harsh hand sanitizers or nail polish removers can help stop dry cuticles before they happen.
“Additionally, moisturizing your hands and cuticles often with a cuticle cream or oil helps maintain healthy cuticles,” Dr. Hussain says, suggesting Vaseline or Aquaphor as options to moisturize the area.
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As Dr. Hussain explains, dry or cracked cuticles are usually something that can be solved by these types of over-the-counter treatments. However, as with any ailment, Dr. Hussain says that it’s worth seeing a board-certified doctor to determine if there’s a bigger issue at play: "You should see your dermatologist if your cuticles are often bleeding, swelling, and are in pain.”