Fingernails and toenails are made of a protein called keratin. The exposed portion is called nail plate and is composed of dead, compacted and hardened keratin. The nail bed is the skin beneath the nail itself. The cuticle is the dead skin that overlaps your nail plate at the base to form a seal. The nail is formed beneath the cuticle at the matrix. Ragged cuticles can be annoying, but whatever you do, don’t snip or bite them; they’re the most important part of your nails. Here are some cuticle care tips by Phoebe Rich, M.D., of Portland, Oregon.
1. Moisturise your hands
Keep your cuticles from drying out by a moisturising each time you wash your hands, and don’t use nail polish remover more than once a week; it’s too drying.
2. Wear gloves
Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when using household cleaning products. They’ll help protect your cuticles and nail surface, so that your hands will look clean and natural. No more nail destruction for you, just healthier, happier nails!
3. Do not bite
If cuticles look ragged, gently rub away dead skin with a soft washcloth. Never push cuticles too harshly and fight the urge to bite your cuticles.
4. Use clean tools during manicures
Be sure that your nail technician sterilized all tools used during a manicure, or bring your own. Notice if the stations are clean, if the nail technician washes her hands between clients and if her license is displayed.
5. Get treated
If you have an inflammation or an infection, see a dermatologist or podiatrist for a topical antifungal or antibacterial cream, or prescription oral antifungal. In forming a seal between the skin and the nail plate, cuticles protect the body from bacteria, yeast, even fungus. Look out for minor redness, which is usually a symptom of irritation from cutting your cuticles or from immersing hands in household cleaning products. Itchiness and blisters around the cuticles and nails can be triggered by methyl methacrylate (MMA), used in the application of acrylic nails, and tosylamid/formaldehyde resin, found in some polishes. Meanwhile, discoloured debris under the nail or separation of the nail from its bed are signs of a fungal infection.