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The Danger of Cutting Your Cuticles

When you get a manicure—or give yourself one—should you cut your cuticles?

"Some people like the way trimmed cuticles look, but cutting this protective layer of skin increases your risk for infection," says Erika Summers, MD, a dermatologist at University of Utah Health.

Here’s why:

When the skin around the nails is traumatized by biting or trimming cuticles, or picking at hangnails, bacteria or fungi can enter into the wound. This can cause an infection of the skin around the nail.

Symptoms of an infection may include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Pus

If you prefer the look of trimmed cuticles, a safer option is to gently push them back with an orange stick. But even better—leave your cuticles alone. If your cuticles are cracked or dry, Summers advises to moisturize them with lotion or use a warm paraffin wax treatment designed specifically for nails.

Are you planning to get a pedicure? Here are some precautions to further reduce your risk for infection at the nail salon.

cuticle dangers