6 Symptoms of Stress, Plus How to Treat Them
When you’re pushed to the max, things can get ugly (literally). Here’s some face-saving relief.
Ragged Cuticles and Tips
Why it happens: According to Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist and psychiatrist in New York City, trying times don’t directly affect the thickness
or the strength of the nail beds. But they can cause people to ease their stress by biting or picking at their cuticles, which
may have long-term effects on the appearance of the nails, she says. Picking at cuticles leaves fingertips vulnerable to inflammation,
infection, and swelling, which can, in turn, cause nails to grow with unsightly grooves and bumps. And over time nibbling
can permanently weaken nails, altering their shape and ability to grow.
How to treat it: If you’ve picked your cuticles to the point of redness, apply a small daily squeeze of an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. If they’re ragged, rub in a treatment like CND SolarOil ($11, cnd.com for info), which conditions with sweet-almond and jojoba oils. If nail biting is your bête noire, try a long-lasting salon gel manicure. “The professional grooming will keep your nails neat, so you’re less tempted to pick and bite, and the amount of time that you can expect a gel manicure to stay on—three weeks—can help wean you off a bad habit,” says Dana Stern, a New York City–based dermatologist who specializes in nails.
Grooved Nail Beds
Why it happens: Not unlike telogen effluvium, stress-induced changes in diet can cause nails to stop growing. Luckily, nails don’t fall off
en masse the way that hair can. Instead, about three months after the intense event, a deep and harmless horizontal groove,
known as a Beau’s line, appears on the nail bed.
How to treat it: “As the nail with the Beau’s line grows, it can occasionally lift off the nail bed and smooth itself out,” says Stern, and this is normal and painless. But more often it simply grows out and is filed away. To even out the divot temporarily, use a ridge-filling base coat, like Deborah Lippmann Ridge Filler Base Coat ($20, neimanmarcus.com).