Makeover Momma
hard skin around nails

Is The Skin Around Your Nails Hard And Calloused?

This article is concerning the skin around both toenails and fingernails.

If you've tried researching this topic, you probably came across articles and authors referring to people with hard skin around nails as sufferers. But, I like to think of it as a regular occurrence... in fact, as I'm writing this article, I'm picking on a particularly hardened piece of skin around my thumb nail. I know I probably shouldn't, but it's very irritating...

The state of your skin in this area may also depend on the season (cold weather will dry out your skin and make it hard, or cause tiny cracks), on your line of work (if you are involved in demanding manual labor), or your diet (specific vitamin deficiency).

So, is there something you can do about it? Of course there is! 

skin around nails hard and calloused

How To Get Rid Of Hard, Calloused Skin Around Your Nails?

Soak your fingers in warm water to soften the skin. Once softened, remove cuticles, hard skin, and callouses using manicure scissors. Afterward, apply lotion to moisturize the skin and lock in the moisture overnight.

Fingernails and Toenails Structure

Fingernails, and toenails, are a protective structure present in most primates, which corresponds with claws in other animals. They are built up of alpha-keratin, a protective protein and the primary component of hair, horns and skin epidermis.

We already talked about the structure of nails, you can find this info here - What Is Nail Structure and Function?

Why Does The Skin Around Your Nails Become Hard?

Since fingers are the most used and exposed parts of our body, it comes as no surprise that the skin around the nails will suffer. This is especially true for those that do not take good care of it.

So, why does the skin around our nails become hard?

It's a natural process where the skin forms hard, thickened areas as a response to repeated irritation, friction, or pressure. By developing these calluses, the skin is actually doing its job; and, though they are generally not harmful, if left neglected for long, these calluses can become irritated.

But how?

Whenever we put pressure on the tips of our fingers, the delicate skin gets pushed against/under the sharp edge of the fingernail. This constant friction causes the skin to lose moisture, and, by becoming overly dry, it becomes vulnerable.

Our body's natural response is to protect this vulnerable area by piling up dead skin cells, making the area thicker, harder, and more resilient.

You see, our skin is only trying to protect us, but these calluses are not aesthetically appealing, so we frown upon them and want to get rid of them as soon as possible. How do we do that? We'll discuss it in the following paragraphs.

How To Get Rid Of Hard, Calloused Skin Around Nails And Soften Your Skin?

Taking care of the calluses around your fingernails is easier than you think, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home. All it takes is 15 minutes of your time and following these simple steps:

  • Soften The Skin By Soaking Your Hands

Grab a bowl big enough for both hands (even if your skin hardened only, on the one hand, it's generally a good idea to treat both at the same time), and fill it with hot water. How hot? You can be the judge of that, make it hot but pleasant and tolerable.

Submerge your fingertips and hold up to 5 minutes. It's not possible to "oversoak," but there is no need to do it more than 5 minutes.

  • Pat Your Fingers Dry

You can either pat them dry or wipe them off, just make sure there are no more water drops. It's important to immediately move on to the next step while your skin is still moist.

"Working" with moist skin will make the next step more comfortable and pain-free.

  • Cut The Excess Calloused Skin Around Your Nails


This is the crucial step in removing hard skin from around your nails, but you must be careful not to hurt yourself.

This is why I recommend getting manicure nippers (you can find one on Amazon). Of course, you can use ordinary nail clippers, but manicure nippers will give you more control, allow you to "hit the right angle," and get the job done better.

You might be worried that the nippers might cost more than nail clippers, but that's not always the case. Most manicure nippers cost as much as your everyday nail clippers.

Back to the process at hand...

Once your skin is nice, soft, and dry, you can proceed with the callous removal. But how can you tell how far you should go?

A general rule of thumb is only to nip extra skin that is white in color and loose. If this is the first time doing it, I would advise going slow. You can always repeat the process and cut a bit more dead skin next time around.

  • Moisturize The Skin Afterward

This step is just as important as the previous one since you need to take care of the skin you've only treated.

Which moisturizer to choose?

Between you and me, any old moisturizer will do, since all of them are designed with one purpose - to hydrate your skin and help it lock in more moisture.

Of course, there are those specially formulated to treat the delicate skin around your fingernails. These usually come enriched with vitamins to promote, not only skin health but nail health as well. Bee Natural cuticle oil is undoubtedly one of these and my warm recommendation.

How To Prevent Hard Skin Around Nails And Keep It From Coming Back?


I emphasize prevention as much as I can, but here, the situation is not as black and white as we would like it to be.

We already talked about these cuticles around your fingernails as a naturally occurring process. So, why would you want to prevent it?

This is why I recommend we look at this "problem" from a different angle. Instead of talking about how to prevent hard skin around your nails, let's talk about just keeping the skin on your hands healthy overall.

Here are some tips to help you with that:

  1. 1
    Avoid soaps as much as you can - soaps with artificial fragrances and chemicals will dry your skin out and strip it of its natural oils. Actually, this is the situation I'm facing at my place of work. We have this cheap, liquid soap that's just terrible for my skin. If you've read some of my previous articles, you saw I have dry, flaky skin on my palms (click here to read more about it), and I need to be extra careful with personal hygiene products. The solution? I started taking my home soap with me.
  2. 2
    Use protective gloves when doing the dishes - this is a must for those of you with sensitive skin around your fingers/on your hands. Most detergents contain chemicals that will damage your skin and dry it out.
  3. 3
    Wear gloves when it's cold outside - cold weather will dry out your skin, making it prone to cracking and becoming hard around your fingernails
  4. 4
    Avoid hot-air hand dryers - though they are becoming more popular as they keep the costs low, keep an eye out for toilet paper and use it is possible
  5. 5
    Moisturize - if you've got a problematic skin, don't wait to get home to apply a moisturizer; keep one on you at all times and use it every time you wash your hands

Igor Marcikic

I've struggled with acne and oily skin for the better part of my life. Along the way, I've picked up some valuable information, tips, and tricks, which helped me manage my "situation." This website is a way of giving back and trying to help others like me! Enjoy your stay, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.