Nail Care

Woman applying nail oil

Healing Cuticle Damage

There’s no doubt about! Nails are all the rage! With all the nail trends that have emerged and continue to emerge in the coming season, a stylish manicure is becoming as necessary a fashion accessory as a great pair of shoes. But bad habits, natural elements and even certain manicures can cause cuticle damage that can seriously put a damper on putting your best finger forward. Well, never fear, because here are a few tips on how to heal cuticle damage and get those nails in shape for the upcoming season.

Treatments for damaged cuticles vary from simple creams to surgical treatments depending on the severity of the damage. “If you’ve been biting your fingernails or yanked off a hang nail, taking care of the issue may not be any more difficult than treating a minor cut,” says health journalist Elizabeth Whitmore. She recommends simply putting hydrogen peroxide and a bandage over the affected area.

More serious cuticle damage can include infections, commonly known as paronychia. These can be caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast and manifest as soreness and occasionally puss-filled blisters. Treatment for these infections usually involve soaking of the affected area in warm water and taking antibiotics, but occasionally surgery is necessary. If you suspect your finger is infected, it is best to see a doctor for proper medical attention.

Another source of cuticle damage is dry skin which can result in cracked and peeling cuticles. “When skin dries out, your cuticles lose natural fats that help keep them soft”, notes Whitmore. Treatment for this kind of damage includes cuticle creams which have fats and oils to help replace those you’ve lost. Other tips for dry, cracked cuticles includes Beauty blogger Nicole Quinn’s recommendation of applying Neosporin to cracked cuticles, covering them with band-aids and leaving them on while sleeping for an overnight transformation. Bobbie Brown recommends soaking hands in warm olive oil for five minutes while massaging the oil into your fingernails.

Of course, the best way to solve the problem of damaged cuticles is to prevent them from happening in the first place. You can save yourself a whole lot of pain, time and money by following some simple cuticle care tips.  These include the following:

  • Wear gloves in cold weather and while washing dishes
  • Don’t bite or pick your nails
  • Moisturize
  • Avoid rough manicures
  • Use acetone free nail polish removers
  • Avoid cutting your cuticles

Maintaining a healthy diet can also make nails strong and resistant to damage. Vitamins A, B, C, E, zinc and calcium are all recommended for healthy nails. Foods rich in these vitamins include citrus fruits, dairy products, bananas, lean meats, and leafy green vegetables. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided as they can diminish the amount of vitamin A in the body. Cutex recommends their Quick and Gentle Nail Polish Remover Nourishing with Vitamin E.

If your nails are looking rough and peeling, it may be time to explore these options and start taking these steps for a healthier you, not to mention a beautiful manicured look.

Clean hands with French manicure

Dare To Go Bare

Nail polish is so attractive and there are so many trendy manicure options now, it’s hard to think of taking time off to let our nails go bare for a while. However, keeping polish on nails for a prolonged period of time can be doing our nails harm. Find out how your nails might be suffering the effects of being constantly polished and what you can do about it.

Many of us have heard of the benefits of leaving polish off to let nails ‘breathe’. The reality is, nails don’t actually need to breathe, as they receive nutrients and oxygen from the blood stream, not the air. However, leaving polish on can lead to keratin granulation. “These are white, rough patches on the nail that form when the polish is removed along with the superficial layers of nail cells,” explains certified dermatologist and nail specialist Dana Stern. Stern goes on to explain that these are caused by trauma to the nail matrix. The granulations do grow out over time but can result in permanent damage to the matrix that can lead to nail alteration.

Foot specialist Joy Rowland expands on this theory. “The danger with keeping your nail polish on too long is that the pigment in the nail polish can soak into the top few layers of the nail and dry it out,” says Rowland. When that happens, mildew, yeast, mold and bacteria can develop under the nail plate which can lead to long term problems. Rowland recommends leaving polish off and trying to keep feet dry to promote healing. She also recommends rubbing the nail beds with vitamin E.

Nail polish remover can also be dangerous to the nails. Dermatologists simplify the science behind this by comparing nails to tiles on a roof. “These tiles are made of protein, specifically keratin, just like our hair. These cells are very delicate and can become damaged with prolonged exposure to certain chemicals,” says Stern. One of these chemicals is acetone, commonly found in nail polish remover. Acetone can dry out the keratin cells that make up the nail plate causing them to separate, split, peel and break.

Obviously, it is a good idea to take breaks between manicures and let nails go bare. A few weeks with nail polish on, and then a few weeks with bare nails is the recommended procedure. Here are some other helpful hints for keeping nails healthy:

  • Always wear a protective base coat. This will keep nails from yellowing.
  • Take biotin and vitamins to keep nails healthy.
  • Use gloves while doing housework.
  • Keep nails trim and buff them lightly in one direction.
  • Don’t peel your nail polish. This will make the cells on your nails grow in a slanted direction and weaken them.
  • Rub oil into nails to seal in moisture.
  • Avoid overexposure to water and alcohol (which can be found in hand sanitizers).