Don't Neglect your Cuticles!
By Suzanne Roberta-Meyer, MBA
When it comes to taking care of our nails, many of us tend to focus solely on the nail plate itself. However, our cuticles play an equally important role in keeping our nails healthy and strong. Neglecting our cuticles can lead to a variety of problems, including infections, which can be painful and difficult to treat.
So, what are cuticles and why are they important? Cuticles are the thin layer of skin that surrounds the base of our nails. They protect our nails from dirt, bacteria, and other harmful substances that can cause infections. In addition, they help to keep our nails moisturized by preventing moisture loss from the nail bed.
Unfortunately, many of us neglect our cuticles, leading to dryness, cracking, and even bleeding. This can make us more vulnerable to infections, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Infections can range from mild to severe, and may require medical treatment to heal.
One of the most common infections caused by damaged cuticles is paronychia. This is an infection of the skin around the nail, which can be caused by bacteria entering the area through a cut or crack in the cuticle. Symptoms of paronychia include redness, swelling, pain, and pus-filled blisters. In severe cases, the infection can spread to the rest of the finger or even the hand, and may require antibiotics to treat.
Another type of infection that can be caused by damaged cuticles is onychomycosis, also known as toenail fungus. This is a fungal infection that can affect both the nails and the surrounding skin, and is more common in toenails than fingernails. Symptoms of onychomycosis include thickening, discoloration, and separation of the nail from the nail bed. In severe cases, the nail may even become deformed or completely detached.
To prevent these and other types of infections, it is important to take good care of your cuticles. Here are some tips to keep your cuticles healthy:
- Moisturize regularly: Dry cuticles are more prone to cracking and bleeding, so it's important to keep them moisturized. Apply a moisturizing cream such as Strengthening Bamboo Cream or a cuticle oil such as Sweet Almond Cuticle Oil to your cuticles and nails daily to keep them soft and hydrated.
- Avoid harsh chemicals: Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as nail polish remover or cleaning agents, can damage your cuticles and increase your risk of infection. Wear gloves when doing household chores and use a gentler, acetone-free nail polish remover.
- Use only 12 Free nail polish to ensure that your nails and cuticles are not being exposed the the 12 most toxic chemicals, commonly found in many nail polish brands.
- Don't cut your cuticles: While it may be tempting to trim your cuticles, it's best to leave them alone. Cutting or trimming your cuticles can damage them and increase your risk of infection.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands regularly and keep your nails clean and dry. Avoid biting your nails or picking at your cuticles, as this can introduce bacteria into the area.
- Visit a professional: If you're having trouble with your cuticles or notice signs of infection, it's best to visit a professional. A dermatologist or nail technician can help diagnose and treat any problems and provide advice on how to keep your cuticles healthy.
In conclusion, taking care of your cuticles is just as important as taking care of your nails. Neglecting your cuticles can lead to dryness, cracking, and infections, which can be painful and difficult to treat. By following these simple tips, you can keep your cuticles healthy and prevent infections from occurring.