Despite spending a fortune on manicures, are your cuticles still dark and patchy? Well, manicures may not be the solution, for there might be a deeper reason behind your problem.
To find solutions, it is first important to understand what dark cuticles mean, and the reasons that may be causing this skin problem. Keep reading to find out more.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Lack of healthy circulation can trigger vata imbalance and result in dark cuticles.”
-Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Do Dark Cuticles Mean?
Dark cuticles refer to the presence of dark patches on the dead skin at the base of your fingernails or toenails. These dark patches on your cuticles can be caused by various aspects based on your dosha imbalances.
Often an imbalanced pitta dosha can cause fungal infections on your skin, leading to darkened cuticles. Also, an imbalance in vata dosha can lead to dehydration, resulting in darkened cuticles.
Along with dosha imbalances, there are various illnesses and dietary negligence that can lead to dark cuticles too. Often minor injuries can also make your cuticles dark but they usually return to their normal color within a few days and do not need special care. However, if the skin around your nails remains discolored for a longer period of time, then it needs to be treated. 
What Causes Dark Skin Around Nails?
There may be various reasons that lead to dark skin around nails. As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Lack of healthy circulation can trigger vata imbalance and result in dark cuticles.” A few causes behind dark cuticles include,
1. Nutritional Deficit
Dark cuticles can be caused by a lack of nutrients in your body. A diet of excessive junk food often eliminates nutrients from the diet which can lead to dark skin around the nails.
While all vitamins are important for healthy cuticles, a deficiency of vitamin B12 will most certainly turn the skin around your nails brown or black. Also, a lack of some fatty acids and zinc in your diet can cause darkened cuticles too. Vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 3% and 43% of older adults. 
If you don’t include fresh fruits, leafy vegetables and milk products in your diet, you have a possibility of having dark cuticles.
2. Exposure To Chemicals
Sometimes when your body is exposed to harmful chemicals, they leave their residues in the form of darkened or pigmented areas on the skin around your nails. This can be caused by exposure to any kind of chemicals, like certain soaps, or even due to overuse of nail paints. Even wearing latex gloves for long hours can cause dark cuticles.
Nail paint removers with high amounts of acetone and methanol can also react with your skin and cause dark cuticles. Apart from that, if your profession requires you to work with harmful chemicals for long hours in a day, then also you can get dark cuticles.
Dark cuticles can also be one of the initial signs of dehydration. Often a disbalance in vata dosha can make your body and skin dehydrated, which can further lead to darkened cuticles.
If you are prone to excessive sweating or urinating more than usual, then you have to balance your body’s water reserve by drinking a lot of water, or else you can get dehydrated and get dark cuticles.
4. Excessive washing
Many people have developed darkened cuticles in the past 2 years because of washing their hands too much. The use of sanitizers and excessive hand-washing with soap, has disrupted the pH balance of skin and as a result, the skin around the nails has turned darker in color.
5. Environmental Effects
In the hot summers, direct exposure to the harmful rays of the sun can cause skin damage. Even around the nails, it can cause a disbalance in the melanin production of your body, resulting in dark cuticles.
Also, if your hands are directly exposed to the harsh wind of cold winters, it can cause rapid moisture loss. Sudden changes in the weather can also affect your skin and cuticles.
6. Medical Reasons
Various medical conditions can be responsible too. Fungal infections, bruises, kidney problems, heart problems, etc. can be the cause.
Another medical condition that can cause the darkening of your cuticles is melanoma or skin cancer, but this particular symptom appears in very few people. Often in this case a darkened cuticle is accompanied by the growth of skin tissues, warts, etc. if you notice such symptoms on your skin, you must immediately consult a dermatologist. 
How To Get Rid Of Dark Skin Around Nails?
Make sure to drink a lot of water especially during the hot summers when you sweat a lot and during the winters when your body already lacks hydration to avoid dark cuticles. Try to use natural cleansers for washing your hands in place of harsh chemicals and test the pH balance of your tap water every once in a while. You can also follow the below-mentioned remedies for relief.
A. Home Remedies
1. Lemon & Cucumber Scrub
Vitamin C present in lemon can lighten your skin while cucumber will keep your skin hydrated.
- Take the juice of 1 whole lemon.
- Grate half a cucumber and add to it.
- Apply around your cuticles.
- Let it dry for 30 minutes and then wash it with normal water.
- Use this scrub once a week.
Potato juice can be used as a natural cleansing agent as it fights pigmentation and uneven skin tone.
- Grate and squeeze the juice out of 2 potatoes.
- Apply the juice on your cuticles with the help of a cotton pad.
- Wash it after 15-20 mins.
- Use it as many times as you want.
- Take a tbsp of curd with ½ a tsp of turmeric.
- Mix them well and apply them on your darkened cuticles.
- Wait for an hour before washing it.
- Use this mixture 2-3 times a week
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is packed with antimicrobial compounds which are very useful for pigmented skin.
- Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a bowl.
- Add a few drops of any essential oil to it (tea tree, grapeseed, jojoba etc.).
- Mix them well and heat them until lukewarm.
- Apply the mixture around your cuticles with a cotton ball.
- Leave it as it is or wash it off before you go to sleep.
- Repeat the process every day if you can.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is high in antioxidants, so when you apply it to your dark cuticles it will rejuvenate the area and make it brighter and softer. 
- Scrape the gel out of an aloe vera leaf.
- Add ½ tsp honey to it and mix well.
- Apply it on your cuticles and wash it after an hour.
- Repeat the process 3 times a week.
- Take 1 tsp of sandalwood powder and 1 tsp of calamine.
- Mix them well with a few drops of buttermilk and add a few strands of saffron if you can.
- Apply it around your cuticles and wash it off after it completely dries. 
Vedix Tip: Another easily available ingredient from your kitchen that you can use to remove your dark cuticles is tomato. Rub tomato slices on the skin around your nails and leave it overnight.
B. Ayurvedic Remedies
1. Kumkumadi Tailam
Kumkumadi tailam is made of various Ayurvedic herbs like kwath dravya , dasamoola , kalka dravya and various other ingredients like sesame oil, rose water, and milk. This Ayurvedic concoction helps in healing pigmented and damaged skin, and especially reducing dark spots. You can apply this oil around your darkened cuticles to get rid of them. 
2. Nalpamaradi Tailam
The nalpamaradi tailam is made of ingredients like ashwattha, triphala, chandana, manjistha, tila taila (sesame oil), turmeric and nalpamara (a group of tree barks). This concoction has powerful de-tanning abilities.
3. Jwalini Tailam
This Ayurvedic tailam is made by simmering coconut milk, sesame oil, cinnamon and frankincense. This concoction provides immunity towards microbial and fungal infections and also helps in curing dark patches around your nails that are caused by dehydration.
C. Food And Lifestyle Changes
- Exfoliate your skin frequently in order to remove dead cells and accumulated fungal or bacterial growth.
- Drink 2-3 litres of water every day to stay hydrated and if you perspire or urinate more than the average, then drink more water.
- Do yoga and traditional exercises like the pranayam to improve your blood circulation and avoid dark cuticles.
- Quit smoking cigarettes.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B12.
- Do not wear nail paints for long periods of time.
- Avoid using latex gloves and find an alternative to latex.
- Consult your dermatologist regarding your symptoms.
The Last Word
Before applying any homemade remedy or Ayurvedic concoction on your darkened cuticles, make sure to consult a dermatologist. Identify your unique prakriti and the imbalance which is causing the skin around your nails to darken and choose a solution accordingly.
The dark skin around your nails that is ruining your perfectly applied nail paint and your hands, can be caused by various minor and severe reasons. Although most reasons that lead to dark cuticles may not be life-threatening some might, which is why you need to consult a dermatologist immediately.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Deformities, Dystrophies, and Discoloration of the Nails, Dec 2021
2. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Consumers, July 7, 2021
3. HOW TO CHECK YOUR NAILS FOR MELANOMA, July 5, 2021
4. Turmeric, May 2020
5. Aloe Vera, August 2020
6. Re-discovering Sandalwood: Beyond Beauty and Fragrance, June 2019
7. Impact of particle size of Kwatha Dravya (Decoction powder) in the preparation of Phaltrikadi kwath, April 2018
8. Experimental evaluation of analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet potential of Dashamoola, March 2015
9. THE EFFICACY OF KUMKUMADI TAILAM IN DISCOLOURATION OF LIPS DUE TO SMOKING, November 2020
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