Your cuticles are one of the least understood parts of your anatomy. You almost tend to take them for granted. However, they are extremely important for protecting your fingers and helping them function the way they do.
Eponychium is another name by which cuticles are called. They are located at the base of every fingernail and toenail, where the nail merges with the skin. They form a seal and prevent bacteria and other harmful organisms from entering into your skin near the base of the nail. However, some people are in the habit of cutting their cuticles as part of a manicure routine. Some people even bite on their cuticles as a habit.
These practices could have undesirable consequences as torn cuticles can allow bacteria to enter in and cause inflammation or infection. Torn or infected cuticles can also lead to the deterioration of nails. Medical treatment would be necessary to cure acute or chronic infections of nails. Therefore, it is always better to prevent infection in the first place. Repeated infections can even cause distortion or warping of fingernails and toenails. You might also experience pain if you abuse your cuticles.
Although cuticles seem to be a redundant piece of tissue over the nails, they form an important function that keeps the nails healthy. New nail cells are constantly being produced under the cuticle and are pushed out towards the tip of the finger. The cells get older as they progress towards the nail tips.
If you really need to cut your cuticles to improve the appearance of your nails, then you should use a specially designed cuticle cutter to trim your cuticles. You must first soften your cuticles by soaking them in warm water, or some chemical that is meant for softening your cuticles. You should then take a sharp cuticle cutter that is made of stainless steel, and use it to trim the thicker regions of your cuticle.
You need to ensure that the regions that you are removing are not living tissue, but rather dead cells. However, if you cut into living cuticle tissue, it can give rise to an infection called paronychia that develops close to the base of your nail fold. You might get symptoms like pain and swelling of the tissue or develop areas of yellowish pus around the nails.
In order to treat paronychia, you might have to soak your nails in warm water and apply antibiotic creams. If the condition worsens, you might have to supplement the cream with oral antibiotics medication. Therefore, it pays to take good care of your cuticles and prevent any damage to them.