What can I do to prevent hangnails and inflammation around my nails?

Often this occurs from irritation to the skin surrounding the nail. To decrease irritation, particularly in cases where there is frequent hand washing, it is important to avoid irritants such as scented or alcohol containing products or friction of any kind. Additionally, it is helpful to only use products with labels such as “unscented”, “fragrance free”, or “sensitive skin”. Lastly, it is very important to frequently moisturize the hands and nails, with a hydrating moisturizer, e.g. one containing ceramides. Best results are achieved when moisturizer is used after every time hands are washed. This usually means needing to have several bottles of lotion in convenient places, around the house and on the go.

How can I have less brittle and healthier nails that don’t crack?

Often nails can be dry and cracked from frequent hand washing and wetness. Therefore, it is important to apply moisturizer after every time hands are washed, making sure to apply some to the cuticle (where the nail root is). Additionally, some patients find it helpful to supplement with over the counter biotin, 5mg daily for about 6months, to see if it makes a difference. If there is persistence cracking of the nail without improvement despite doing the above regimen or if you are experiencing any systemic symptoms, a laboratory work-up can be done to insure that there are no underlying systemic causes for brittle nails.

When should I see a dermatologist about my nail concerns?

You can see a dermatologist for this at any time. It is especially important to come in if you have discoloration or lifting of the nails or if they display symptoms of discomfort or pain.