All About Keratin

Your hair and nails are actually made out of the same substance. It's a protein called keratin and we're not the only animals who have it. It also happens to be the main component in horns, hooves, beaks, feathers and scales, just to name a few [source: MSN Encarta].

Preventing Cuticle Damage

The only thing better than solving problems is preventing them in the first place. When it comes to cuticle damage, prevention usually means dropping a few bad habits and forming some good ones to replace them. The worst thing you can do is bite your fingernails or the skin around your fingernails. No good can come from it. It's the most common cause of cuticle damage and it's totally preventable. The first step to breaking your bad habit is becoming aware of it. If that doesn't seem to be enough to keep you from nibbling away, you can try wearing bandages over your fingertips or putting something that tastes bad on your fingernails to dissuade you from doing it [source: WebMD].

Another common cause of cuticle damage is dry skin. This tends to be a problem among those who work in jobs that require their hands to be exposed to excessive amounts of water or irritants. However, rubber gloves provide a simple solution to this problem. Dry skin can also be a result of the climate you live in. People tend to have more issues with dry skin in the winter because the air itself is so dry. If you find that your hands are drying out and your cuticles are getting damaged as a result, try using a good moisturizer for your hands and a cuticle cream for your cuticles. These specialized creams use fats and waxes like petroleum and beeswax [source: Milady].

Aside from that, there isn't much more you can do to protect your cuticles. The only other option is to wear gloves all the time -- and that's just not practical for most people.

For a lot more information on treating damaged cuticles, take a look at the links on the next page.