How To Treat Dry Peeling Cuticles At Home?

By Patricia | July 17, 2009

Our hands are very important, because not only do they help us to work, but they reflect a lot of our personality. Most of us would like to keep our hands looking their best. This is because we are often judged by the condition of our hands and nails.

While some would like to sport well-manicured and polished, flashy red nails, others may prefer a clean, natural and active look. Dry cracked cuticles or skin peeling off our fingers, are a frequent and common complaint, but they would certainly reflect poorly on maintenance, as well as our sense of hygiene. They are also painful and irritating. So, if you are plagued with such a condition, 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.


But before you start on the treatment, it would be better to first learn the causes of dry cuticles, and how to prevent them in the first place.

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.

The cuticle is the area of dead skin between the skin of our fingers and the start of the nails. Dry cuticles can cause tears in the skin layers, leading to peeling, further infection and irritation. 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 dry skin cuticles problems, 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.

Taking care of your hands: This will prevent dry skin under your fingernails. A daily application of some oil, cream or moisturizer is enough to take care of your hands and prevent dry cuticles symptoms, but you would need a more intensive routine in the beginning to help remove the dry and peeling skin of the cuticles and fingernails.

Soak your nails in warm (not boiling) 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 heavy creams or the cream from milk has a beneficial effect. The best time to apply the 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.

A home manicure:

If possible you could get a manicure done professionally every month. But if that is impossible or too expensive, you could go in for a good manicure set and follow the procedures at home.

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. Also take care while snipping, since the tool is very sharp and you could end up cutting off live skin.

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.

Peeling cuticles is a normal situation that occurs in the fingernail area. There are two common areas of peeling that are the cuticles – the area of dead skin that forms a protective layer between the start of the nail and the skin, and under the fingernails. Cuticles drying out and peeling occur due a tear in the skin layer and peeling below the fingernail is the natural skin peeling that occurs.

What Is Skin Peeling Off Fingers

Skin is the protective layer that covers our entire body from head to toe and continuously regenerates in layers. The topmost layer of skin is the oldest and peels off regularly or flakes off microscopically as it dries out. When this skin is not removed by some kind of frictional process, it accumulates, and since it is still one cohesive layer, will start to peel. Solving the problem of peeling requires the use of some acids that are able to break open the protein bonds that hold dead skin together and allow it to peel off naturally. Never attempt to peel off a cuticle as it can end up ripping into the soft healthy skin at the start of the nail. Apart from this, you could end up ripping it out completely and this will leave a gap open inside for bacteria to grow. To break dead skin, all you need is salicylic acid – a plant derived acid that is used commonly in many face washes – or you can also you use some lemon juice or vinegar at home. Start by squeezing about 5 lemons or pouring some vinegar into a bowl along with an equal quantity of water. Dip your hands in this solution for about fifteen minutes before switching to the other hand. Wash your hands thoroughly, then take some salt or sugar and rub it over the area of dead skin. Salt or sugar does not serve any other process apart from being abrasives that can sandpaper off loose, dead skin. This process may have to be repeated a few times and for a few days before this starts to show some effect.

Infected Cuticles Treatment

Once the immediate problem is solved, you have to prevent the situation from arising again. Usually dead skin only irritates when it has dried up and is peeling off so it is a good practice to keep the area moisturized and the skin soft so that it can rub from the natural force of friction. This can be done by dipping your hands in a solution of milk every night before bed. Alternatively, you could also just apply a petroleum jelly-based cream or any moisturizing lotion.

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