Nailed It! Keeping Cuticles Healthy

Keeping your nails healthy is as simple as taking good care of your cuticles.
Cuticles protect your nails and the area around them by creating a barrier versus bacteria and other infectious agents - and they protect the tissue that helps your nails grow.  Damaged cuticles - either from biting your nails or other factors - allow bacteria into your body which may cause a pretty gnarly infection.  About 12% of all Americans have fungal nail infections.  Gross!
One of the most common infections is paronychia which causes the nail and cuticle to separate.  Not only does that feel pretty awful, it can cause painful blisters and even worse infections since all sorts of bacteria can slip beneath the nail bed.  Happily, paronychia is pretty easy to treat.  Just soak your fingers in hot water 2-3 times per day if you notice the infection - if it's really bad, check with your doctor about getting an antibiotic.
Caring for your cuticles is key, then, to preventing nasty nail problems.  How does one go about doing this effectively, though?
Keep your cuticles strong by using hydrating lotions or nutrient-rich oils on a regular or as-needed basis.  You should also never cut your cuticles - this causes damage to their growth patterns, making them brittle and easily cracked.  Instead, use a soft wooden stick to push the cuticles back if they are growing up too high on the nail bed until you can see the lunula (that white half-moon shape on your nail bed).  Pro tip: don't ever do this dry!  It's best to push your cuticles back right after a shower while they are soft and damp.
Cuticle care is pretty simple, but the benefits are immense.  While you can do a great deal of cuticle and nail maintenance at home, it's also nice to get ultra-pampered with a pedicure once in a while!

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