The Home Remedy for Cracked Cuticles

Dr. Janet Zand

October 8, 2021

 
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Dry, cracked cuticles can be painful, and they look terrible, too.

Even worse, cracked cuticles can leave you more vulnerable to infections. That’s because the cuticle is supposed to protect new nails from bacteria as they grow out from the nail root. But the cuticle can’t do that if it’s damaged.

The good news is that there's a simple DIY solution for cracked cuticles ... and it’s available at your local drugstore.

So what is it?

Castor oil. And here’s why it’s so great for your cuticles...

Castor oil is rich in fatty acids, which are hydrating by nature. Also, one of the fatty acids in castor oil is ricinoleic acid, an anti-inflammatory that also has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. That’s particularly great for cracked cuticles, because it means the castor oil can hydrate, decrease inflammation, and protect against infection. 
So what’s the best way to use castor oil for repairing cuticles?

Just take a few drops of the oil and massage them into your cuticles. Ideally, you want to do this before bed, so that the oil has several hours to soften and repair the skin.
If you want to, you could apply the castor oil and then put on a pair of moisturizing gloves. They’ll help to really lock in the moisture (and treat dry skin on your hands, too).

One word of caution: If you have eczema, castor oil may not be the right choice for you. That’s because some studies have found that it can actually cause more irritation in people with eczema. Instead, try coconut oil. Coconut oil will provide hydration, and some studies show that it also contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Now besides treating cracked cuticles, you should also take steps to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips for keeping your cuticles healthy:

1. Switch to an acetone-free nail polish remover. It won’t dry out your cuticles like the harsh removers.

2. Ask your nail technician to push your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher, instead of cutting them. That way you won’t risk damage or infection.

3. Carefully remove hangnails with tweezers or clippers, instead of picking at them or biting them off. 

Alright, that’s it! These simple strategies should keep your cuticles healthy and looking good. So try them out, and let me know how it goes.

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