Most of our daily activities involve using the hands. From typing on a keyboard to driving, washing dishes, and applying makeup, the hands are constantly exposed to external factors that could easily lead to irritation of the skin around them. One commonly reported problem is drying and cracking of the skin around the nails. Discussed herein is not only how to get rid of dry skin around nails but also the common causes of the problem that you need to be aware of.
Dry skin around Nails Meaning
According to Bhupinder Kaur, MD, a dermatologist based in India, dry skin around nails – and any other part of the body – means that there isn’t “enough water in the stratum corneum for it to function properly”. Depending on the underlying cause, the skin may with time start peeling, cracking, or even start bleeding.
Dry Skin around Nails Causes
Any factor that deprives the skin of its protective natural oils can causes loss of moisture that culminates in noticeably dry skin. Among the most common causes of dry skin around nails are:
- Dry weather: Winter especially makes the air so low in humidity and may cause skin dryness, cracking, peeling and other symptoms.
- Nail fungus: Fungal growth may also cause dry skin around the nails. This is typically characterized by yellow discoloration of the affected fingernails or toenails.
- Harsh soaps and sanitizers: Gentle soaps pamper your skin while protecting it against harmful pathogens. Harsh soaps don’t. They strip the skin of its invaluable moisture and rank among the most common reasons why the skin in the nail area dries out. Alcohol-based hand wipes are also potential culprits.
- Exposure to moisture ridding substances: Are you a salon professional who spends long hours working with nail polish removers? They could be to blame for the drying. Other professionals who work constantly with paints, solvents, detergents, and other chemicals could also suffer from this nail problem.
- Excessive washing: Even if you don’t use harsh detergents, washing your hands too much could as well make the skin around nails dry.
- Vitamin deficiency: Vitamin deficiency is also among the most likely causes of dry skin around nails.
- Aging: The hormonal level changes that accompany the natural aging process set precedence for a thin, parched skin that is less capable of holding in moisture and thus prone to drying and cracking. Although you cannot turn back the hands of time, moisturizing frequently can help to keep the dryness at bay.
- Health conditions: Dry skin may be a sign of medical conditions such as diabetes, atopic dermatitis, hypothyroidism, and psoriasis, says the WebMD. Dry skin due to skin conditions like atopic dermatitis tend to be itchy and have a characteristic hard and scaly (rough) texture.
- Biting and picking at fingernail.
Dry Skin around Nails in Pregnancy
Pregnancy usually means a happy moment for mothers and would be mothers. In addition to their unborn child, some women experience the much desired “pregnancy glow” which gives them blemish-free skin coupled by shiny, healthy-looking hair. This however happens to just a few lucky women.
Hormonal fluctuation during pregnancy may as well have the positive effect on your skin, hair, nails etc. it is not unheard of for women to have dry skin around nails – and sometimes other areas of the body – during pregnancy.
According to George Kroumpouzos, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell, Massachusetts, “The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy including hormonal fluctuations that can affect the skin, the hair, and the nails.”
The MedlinePlus agrees with this saying, “In time, your hair and nails will return to the way they were before your pregnancy.”
Still, you can minimize skin and nail problems during pregnancy by applying a moisturizing lotion frequently and protecting your nails when working with water and detergents (e.g. when washing dishes) by wearing rubber gloves.
How to Get Rid Of Dry Skin around Nails
Drying of the skin around the nails is a cosmetic concern. Also if left untreated, it can cause other problems such as itching, peeling, and even cracking of the affected areas of the skin. In most cases, you will be able to fix the problem yourself using simple home remedies. Below is a breakdown of how to get rid of dry skin around nails and cuticles:
Applying a moisturizing a lotion or cream frequently is hands down the best home remedy for drying of the skin in the nail and cuticle area. This helps to lock in and prevent the loss of moisture from the skin. As regards the best cream for dry skin around nails, Dr. Kaur says that any moisturizing cream or lotion will do a great job but goes on to recommend applying a cream with glycolic acid at night. Glycolic acid helps in exfoliating the skin, leaving it with a smooth texture and radiant tone.
Some people will also swear to the healing action of Shea butter and vitamin E creams when applied to the skin around fingernails. If you want to try one of these home remedies for treatment of dry skin around the nails, apply the product of your choice once or twice every day until you get the desired results.
Take Multivitamins Tablets
Drying and peeling of the skin around the nails caused by vitamin deficiency can be removed by taking daily multivitamin tablets. Ask at your local drugstore. Your pharmacist will recommend the appropriate dosage for you.
Run a Humidifier in Your House
A humidifier helps to raise moisture levels in your house and thus keep your skin moist. This helps to treat and prevent drying of the skin around the nails and other parts of the body.
The WebMD recommends setting humidity “at a constant 45% to 55%, and the temperature at a balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit”.
Adopt a Rigorous Nail Care Regimen
Your fingernails are constantly exposed to skin-drying elements and neglecting them could only make things worse. If the skin around your nails keep getting dry, getting regular manicures could be your first step to fixing the situation.
Your attendant will give you specialized nail treatments to ensure adequate miniaturization for your nails and cuticles and reversal of the dryness in the skin. At the very least, try to get one manicure session each month.
Tip: if your manicurist is too harsh on your hands, try another one and see if you get your condition under control.
If doing-it-yourself, you will also want to switch to a nail polish product that is formulated with vitamin E and moisturizers to help keep the nails and skin around them adequately moisturized. As for nail polish removers, use those that are acetone-free. Also, avoid trimming the cuticles.
Sleep With a Pair of Socks Overnight
For dry skin around the toenails, apply Vaseline (or any other petroleum jelly) or a moisturizing cream, then put on a pair of socks before bedtime. Leave the pair of socks on overnight for faster healing action.
As for the best socks for the job, look for thick cotton or wool socks.
Apply Honey to the Dried Areas of Skin
Honey is a natural humectant and thus draw moisture to the skin when applied on it. It also has powerful natural healing properties that can help to remove dry skin. It is especially good if nail fungus is involved:
- Scoop a teaspoon of raw organic honey and mix it with a tablespoon of warm water.
- Mix thoroughly to make a fine paste.
- Apply the paste on the dried area of skin around the nails.
- Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse if off with warm water.
- Repeat this home remedy for dry nails around the nails once or twice daily until the problem goes away.
Moisturize With Olive Oil
Olive oil has powerful moisturizing properties and goes a long way in treating dry, cracked, and even peeling skin around the nails at home.
Simply apply generous amount of olive oil onto the affected areas every now and then. You can also soak your hands in olive oil if you like.
Soak Your Hands in a Diluted Household Bleach
This may sound like a weird home remedy but there is extensive anecdotal evidence to support it. Dilute bleach solutions are especially good for dry skin due to nail fungus. Simply dilute a small amount of household bleach with equal amount of water and then soak your hands in it for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat regularly for best results.
More Tips to Prevent and Get Rid Of Dry Skin around Nails
- Protect your hands with a pair of gloves in very cold weather.
- When using cleansers around the house .g. scrubbing the floors and washing dishes, put on a clean pair of cotton-line rubber gloves.
- Avoid using very hot water and instead use lukewarm water to wash your hands (and body).
- Use gentle soap if you have dryness-prone hand skin.
- In case of itching, try applying calamine lotion to the affected areas of the skin, recommend Dr. Kaur.
- Stop biting and picking at your fingernails.
- Look for a rich, moisturizing dishwashing liquid or hand soap and use it to replace your regular soap or detergent.
- Hydrate adequately: It is important to hydrate your body from inside out. Although your body also gets water from other fluids you consume, strive to take at least 8 glasses of water each day.
- Eat a balanced diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, and other nutrient-rich foods. You will especially want to take lots of foods that are rich in vitamins E and B.
- Avoid using alcohol-based hand wipes.
If symptoms still persist after using the above home remedies for dry skin around nails, then seek help from a dermatologist. You may have underlying medical condition. The dermatologist will advise you on the best treatment course.