Doctors forbid it, but manicurists persist: Cutting the cuticles makes fingers and toes look well-groomed, is it really so bad?
Even the boldest polish can't distract from jagged, ragged cuticles. But grooming them can be tricky.
Push back the cuticles too forcefully or cut them, and you can cause damage to the nail, potentially making a white spot or divot appear a few weeks later.
Aggressively snipping cuticles can also lead to a swollen, painful infection, says Richard K. Scher, professor Emeritus of dermatology at Columbia University.
He Suggests soaking hands in warm water to soften cuticles, then pushing them back with a damp washcloth. As for any bits of skin that pole out around the nails and practically beg to be picked, doctors say you can trim them - carefully.
"First, wash your hands with antibacterial soap," Says Mary P. Lupo, Clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans. Using sterile clippers (wipe them with alcohol before each use), nip (don't pull) at the base of the skin. And then stop before you go too far. Finally, dab on an antibiotic ointment to get from infections.