Though you may only think about your cuticles when you get a manicure, they’re not just hanging out on your hands. They serve a purpose, and they need your TLC. Your cuticles are part of your skin. They sit atop your nails’ growth matrix, which is the part of your nails that grows. Cuticles are there for a reason, like a barrier or a protection for the nail matrix. Here’s some tips on how to keep your cuticles healthy and in tip top shape!
Don’t Cut Your Cuticles
Dermatologists say there’s no good reason to cut the cuticles. Cutting them could open the door to infection or irritation. If you remove the cuticle, that space is wide open, and anything can get in there. Cutting your cuticles can also lead to nail problems, such as ridges, white spots, or white lines. If you get a bacterial infection in that area, it can hamper that fingernail’s growth. That’s not particularly aesthetic, as well as being uncomfortable.
When I want to make my nails appear longer, I push my cuticles back gently with a wooden orange stick instead. I don’t cut my cuticles. They’re supposed to be soft, and cutting can make them hard, more likely to fracture. If you cut it, it has an increased tendency to split off. Some people who cut their cuticles regularly are afraid to stop, because they worry that their cuticles will grow and grow, giving their hands an unsightly look. I say this simply won’t happen, and switching from cuticle clippers to an orange stick is a smart move.
Although the cuticles don’t feel like the soft skin on the rest of your hands, they’re composed primarily of skin, so it’s essential to keep them moisturized. Cuticles get dry. They crack, peel, and flake, just like the skin does. A good moisturizer for the cuticles is important, just like for dry skin. Any skin moisturizer will work fine for the cuticles. When you put it on your hands and there’s some left over, rub it into the cuticles. I recommend thick moisturizing products, such as ointments or creams, for the best results. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as an inexpensive way to care for the cuticles. But some doctors say that using a thick product like petroleum jelly throughout the day isn’t always practical, so there are alternatives to use when you’re active. Ointments are harder to wear during the day, because they’re messy. I use ointment at night when I’m not touching papers in my office. Lotions can be used throughout the day, because the hands don’t get as greasy, but lotions aren’t as moisturizing as creams and ointments. Read my blog post “10 Must-Have Hand Creams”
to help you choose one or few that you like and will work great for your hands and cuticles. A hot wax treatment, which may be offered at the nail salon, is another good way to moisturize the cuticles. Special oily wax is heated until it melts. People dip their hands into the warm, oily wax, then put on plastic gloves and a mitt to seal in the heat, which they wear for 10 to 15 minutes. After you take it off, the hands, nails, and cuticles are softer. It’s a wonderful treatment for nails and cuticles, which I personally like. Whatever method you choose, be sure to moisten your hands regularly. The more frequently you lubricate the hands, including the nails and cuticles, the better they will be.
Avoid Rough Manicurists
Many people see their dermatologist when they develop red, sore spots around their nails or cuticles caused by a skin infection called paronychia. Often, patients come in to me when they went to a new nail salon and had a very aggressive nail technician. Usually, they have an infection from over-vigorous manipulation, which usually manifests as redness and soreness. Antibiotics may be necessary. Before getting your nails done, tell your manicurist that you only want your cuticles pushed back very gently with an orange stick, nothing more. If she pushes the cuticles too vigorously, ask her to stop right away.
Steer Clear Of Drying Agents
The hands, nails, and cuticles can dry out from frequent dish washing and from nail polish remover containing acetone. I recommend wearing gloves for dish duty and using acetone-free nail polish remover. Whether washing clothes or dishes, you really need to wear vinyl gloves. That’s a good time to put the lubricant on. Having the gloves on keeps the oil on the cuticle and nail plate, and it protects them from the drying effects of water.
Keep Your Hands Out Of Your Mouth
This goes without saying. Your mouth is a dirty area, and saliva is an enzyme that breaks down skin. You can get an infection if you violate the cuticle. So if you have a habit of biting your nails or nibbling on your cuticles, work on kicking those habits for prettier, healthier hands.
Bonus Tip: I was recommended cuticle oil by Prolana when I went to get my manicure done at the local spa. I love it! I definitely recommend for those with splitting, dry, peeling and weak nails. I mostly use it to help my cuticles to keep them healthy.
I hope this post was helpful! What do you do different to keep your cuticles healthy? Share in the comments section below!