When it comes to your nails, the cuticles often play an important role in their overall look and health. But despite their obvious importance, many people need to figure out what a cuticle is and why it should be looked after. From understanding how they work and caring for them properly to knowing the best ways to keep your cuticles healthy, we have all the essential information on how to get your hands and nails looking great!
What are cuticles, and why are they important?
Cuticles are the small pieces of skin at the base of the fingernails and toenails. This often overlooked part of the human body is essential for protecting the nail from bacteria and other germs which could cause infection. Cuticles also help to keep nails moisturized and healthy, preventing them from becoming brittle or fragile. The keratin layer of the cuticle helps to provide a barrier between the nails and external agents, such as environments where hands may be frequently submerged in water or exposed to harsh chemicals. An unhealthy cuticle or insufficient cuticles can lead to painful irritations around the fingertips or even infections requiring medical attention. Properly caring for your cuticles through regular moisturizing and cleaning will help preserve their health benefits while keeping your hands looking attractive and well-groomed.
How do you properly care for your cuticles?
Taking care of your cuticles is important to the manicure and general nail health. To keep them looking great, it’s best to gently push them back with a soft cuticle stick or pad after bathing or showering when their natural oils are softened. After pushing your cuticles back, it’s important to keep them hydrated and moisturized. Rich cuticle oil should be applied to the entire length of each nail and just underneath the free edge for extra nutrition. Alternatively, some people like to soak their hands and nails in a lemon + olive oil mixture for at least 10 minutes before adding a generous amount of hand lotion overnight. One more tip – wearing gloves when washing dishes and doing any other type of manual outdoor work will help protect your nails and skin and ensure they stay healthy and beautiful!
What are the common mistakes to avoid when caring for cuticles?
Common mistakes you should strive to avoid when caring for your cuticles include:
- Overcutting them.
- Cutting them with sharp objects like scissors.
- Picking or peeling them.
- Pushing them back too hard.
Overcutting leads to crevices and can cause infections while cutting with anything other than a soft-tipped cuticle tool can be painful and dangerous. Picking and peeling causes irritation and potential infection, so it is best avoided. Additionally, pushing too hard can cause cracking or splitting in the nail bed, increasing your risk of infection. By taking time and being gentle when tending to your cuticles, you will maintain healthy nails and help prevent more serious infections.
How to repair damaged cuticles?
Properly caring for your cuticles can help prevent dryness, tears, and other damage; however, it may still occur. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps that you can take to restore healthy cuticles and reduce the appearance of damage. To start, soften the damaged area by immersion in warm water for a few minutes and massaging oil or cream into your cuticles. Avoid cutting or trimming any hangnails or tears, as this can further damage and irritate the skin around your nails. Instead, use an orange stick wrapped in cotton to push back any overgrown cuticle material gently. If necessary, seek professional assistance from a manicurist for particularly severe cuticle damage for the best results possible.
What is the relationship between cuticle care and overall nail health?
Cuticle care is one of the most important factors in maintaining strong, healthy nails. Proper cuticle maintenance helps to protect the nail plate and promote healthy growth. The skin around the nails is a porous barrier that absorbs moisture, so if it becomes dry and brittle, your nails will lack necessary hydration and be more prone to splitting and cracking. Furthermore, when the cuticles are properly groomed, they can help prevent dirt and bacteria from entering nail beds, substantially reducing the risk of infection. To keep your cuticles soft and supple, avoid cutting them as this can lead to irritation; instead, use cuticle oil daily to keep them moisturized. Additionally, investing in regular manicures can also support optimal nail health by buffing away any ridges or hard skin, which prevents growth. Overall, taking care of your cuticles is essential for overall nail health.
Now that you know a little more about cuticles, their important role in maintaining healthy nails, and how to properly care for them, put these tips into practice. Show your cuticles some love by massaging them with oil before pushing them back. When it comes time to trim them, do so gently with sharp scissors. And last but not least, resist the urge to pick at or tear them – your nails will thank you!
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de Berker, D. (2013). Nail anatomy. Clinics in Dermatology, 31(5), 509–515. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.06.006
Holzberg M. (2015). Nails. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21250055/