Our hands tell others a lot about our personality. Many times, while talking to others, or doing any work, we use our hands moving in patterns emphasizing our statements.
Most of us would like to keep our hands looking their best. While some would like to sport well-manicured and polished, flashy red nails, others may prefer a clean, natural and active look. Many women battle dry, damaged nails that split, peel, or break. So, if you are bothered with such conditions, but do not want to spend a fortune by going to a nail salon, here are a few ways to overcome them at home, with a few simple home treatments.
Our skin is the protective layer that covers our body from head to toe. The top layer or epidermis is constantly peeling off and being replaced as it dries out or is rubbed by friction, as we go about our daily activities. Generally, these skin flakes are so tiny that we are unable to see them, except under a microscope. But sometimes, under certain conditions, these flakes accumulate in one cohesive layer and begin to peel off. This is especially common in the fingertips and cuticles, leading to peeling cuticles or skin peeling off fingers.
Peeling cuticles or peeling fingers are generally caused by dry cuticles and dry skin, which in turn are caused by lack of care, or if your hands have been working too hard, and under harsh environments. If you have been working with your hands in water for too long – doing dishes or washing clothes – you may suffer from this problem. Water is not a good moisturizer under such circumstances. On the contrary it leads to dry skin and cuticles, because it washes off the surface skin oils. Moisturizing the skin, especially the cuticles, and regular care of your hands will help you get soft supple skin again.
A fungal nail infection called ‘onychomycosis’ also causes peeling nails. The individuals, who have nail biting habit, are more prone to get this disorder. Some other causes of peeling nails include usage of poor-quality manicure tools, over-clipping of cuticles, nutritional deficiency and any injury to nail.
Soak your nails in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze the juice of a lemon or a teaspoon of vinegar into this water. This helps to break and dissolve the dead cells, while soaking the hands helps to soften the skin and surrounding tissues, making it easier to remove them, along with the dirt and debris around and under the fingernails. Now take a handful of salt or sugar and rub it over the area. These are abrasives which help to remove the dead skin. You may have to repeat the procedure for a couple of days before all the dead skin is peeled off.
Now apply some hand cream or lotion on your fingers, and massage it gently for a few minutes. You can add a few drops of olive oil or lavender oil or grape seed oil to this cream. Warming it will help greater penetration and absorption of the cream. You can use this mixture on your hands and feet. Massage gently for about 10 minutes, taking care to rub it well into the nail bed.
Daily massaging with oil or cream is essential to soften the skin and make it supple. This will also prevent dry cuticles and skin peeling from your fingers. You need not use the special cuticle creams in the market, if you find them too expensive. Thick olive oil is good. Even creams from milk have a beneficial effect. The best time to apply oil or cream would be at night, just before going to bed, when all the housework is done. This ensures that the oils do not get rubbed off immediately and allows the oils to work their magic all night. Apply the cream and massage for a few minutes, to help them penetrate the skin. Wearing cotton gloves at night also prevents the oil from getting rubbed off.
Soak your hands in hot water for about 10 minutes. Now using an orange stick (this is softer) or the necessary tool in your manicure set, gently push back the cuticles on each finger, until you are able to see the half moon (luna) on each fingernail. This is the place where the nail is attached to the skin. Using special cuticle snippers, snip off the loose peeling skin. Make sure that the snippers have been cleaned with alcohol or an antiseptic to prevent any infection. Use the tool carefully.
The cuticles should not be worked (pushed back and trimmed) more than once a month, since too much messing with it can damage them and cause further infection. Also, never push or trim your cuticles, if they are feeling sore, since this is a very delicate and sensitive area of skin.
Caution: Never try to peel off dry cuticles or any dry skin under your fingernails, as you could end up tearing soft healthy skin. This may lead to further painful infections.
Care for Your Cuticles
Don’t cut your cuticles. Dermatologists say there is no good reason to cut the cuticles. Cutting them could open the door to infection or irritation. Cutting your cuticles can also lead to nail problems, such as ridges, white spots, or white lines. Also cutting the cuticle does not make it grow faster.
Go orange. If you are hoping to make your nails appear longer, you can push your cuticles back gently with a wooden orange stick instead.
Moisturize. Although the cuticles don’t feel like the soft skin on the rest of your hands, they’re composed primarily of skin, so it’s essential to keep them moisturized. Most dermatologists recommend thick moisturizing products, such as ointments or creams, for the best results.
Avoid rough manicurists. Before getting your nails done, tell your manicurist that you only want your cuticles pushed back very gently with an orange stick, nothing more. If she pushes the cuticles too vigorously, ask her to stop right away.
Do not use drying agents. The hands, nails, and cuticles can dry out from frequent dish washing and from nail polish remover containing acetone. So, experts recommend wearing gloves for dish duty and using acetone-free nail polish remover.
Keep your hands out of your mouth. Your mouth is a dirty area, and saliva is an enzyme that breaks down skin. So if you have a habit of biting your nails or nibbling on your cuticles, work on kicking those habits for prettier, healthier hands.
Tips to Stop the Peeling
- Cut the over-grown and surrounding area hydrated.
- Avoid exposing your nails to water and chemicals too much because it can worsen the condition. Try to wear rubber gloves while working in water.
- Some people have a habit to tear off the hangnails. This behavior makes the adjoining area more susceptible to get infected by bacterial infections.
- Applying any essential oil to the cuticles and nails before going to bed is a natural way to keep them healthy and moisturized. You can use jojoba oil, orange oil or tea tree oil for this purpose.
- A well-balanced diet also goes a long way in preventing peeling cuticles.
- Drink plenty of water. We all know how good water is for your overall health and that goes for your nails too. Drinking water can help hydrate damaged nails, just like it does for hair and skin.