Toenail Cuticle Problems

foot image by Ingrid Walter from

Toenail cuticles are an integral part of the health of your foot as well as the health of your body, so it is important to always take care of them. Many different problems can affect the cuticle of your toenail and cause other problems to the nail and foot itself.

What Is A Cuticle?

The cuticle is the dead skin that overlaps the nail bed at the base of the nails. Cuticles act as a seal between the nails and fingers, protecting fungus, bacteria and yeast from entering your body. Thus it is very important to take care of your cuticles as negligence can cause several problems.

Bacterial Infection

Paronychia is a common toenail infection that causes inflammation of the cuticle and skin around the nail as a result of bacterial infection. Symptoms of this infection include swelling and redness around the nail cuticles, making it painful to the touch. A yellow-green discharge from the cuticle area may also be present.

If you believe you have Paronychia, it is a good idea to see your doctor, as this infection must usually be treated with antibiotics.


The term hangnail is misleading as it is not actually part of the nail, but rather a small piece of the cuticle that has become torn. Most often hang nails are caused by dry skin, or by damage to the cuticle such as nail biting.

Hangnails should always be properly cut with nail scissors or nail clippers as biting or tearing them can often make them worse, cause pain, further damage to the cuticle and possible infection. Always make sure to keep cuticles and skin moisturised to avoid hangnails from forming.

Fungal Infection

Nail fungus can be another issue for cuticles. Nail fungus comes in many different varieties and can have many different symptoms, including severe itching, soreness and bleeding around the cuticle as well as the eventual loss of the nail itself. Nail fungus is very contagious and can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, showers, locker rooms or even from your local manicurist if the manicure tools are not disinfected properly.

A doctor will prescribe anti-fungal medicines for the treatment of nail fungus, and some over-the-counter creams and lotions can also be bought to treat this issue.


To prevent any of the above-mentioned problems with toenail cuticles, always be sure to properly take care of your feet. Keep skin moisturised and make sure to always wear adequately ventilated shoes and socks, especially if your feet sweat often. Make sure to properly disinfect all manicure tools and avoid, if possible, contact with locker room shower floors and other places where fungus could possibly be a contaminant.

If you feel you have any sort of infection, see your doctor to make sure you get the correct diagnosis and the best possible treatment. Some infections can be hard to treat and may require several rounds of treatment before the infection is gone.

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