Dried or damaged cuticles can be very irritating, and even painful. They can become swollen, red, and sore. Since they sit at the tips of your fingers and toes its likely that you be bumping and rubbing them on things throughout the day. Every time you reach into your pocket to grab your phone or your keys, your cuticles are going to rub against the fabric of your pants. If they're irritated and swollen, that's going to be annoying at best, and painful at worst.
You can always try applying lotion to them, but you may find that the lotions and ointments at your pharmacy only provide temporary relief. Luckily, there's a better, more permanent solution for your cuticle problems.
What are Cuticles?
The basic definition of a cuticle is a tough, flexible, and non-mineral outer coating which provides some level of protection to an organism. This means that there are many different kinds of cuticle in the world. There's even more than one kind of cuticle in the human body.
In fact, the layer of tissue that surrounds the base of our hairs and locks them into the follicle is a cuticle. Usually, though, when anyone- including medical professionals- refers to a cuticle, they're talking specifically about the thin layer of tissue that sits at the base of our finger and toe nails.
The scientific term for this tissue is the eponychium. It consists of a layer of thickened skin from which a sheet of dead skin extends over the area where the nail and the epidermis meet.
What is the Cuticle For?
The purpose of the cuticle is very simple: it protects you from infection. It uses a layer of dead skin cells to seal off the gap where the nail meets the skin and block bacteria and viruses from getting in. You can think of it like the piece of rubber weather stripping and the bottom of the doors in your house.
Why and How Do Cuticles Get Damaged?
Since cuticles, especially those on the fingernails, are located at the ends of our digits, that are exposed to all kinds of bumps and scrapes. As they consist primarily of dead skin, they don't have the same kind of elasticity that living skin has, nor to they have the hardness of a mineralized tissue like bone or nails.
As a result, they can suffer damage relatively easily. It's common for the cuticle to be pushed back and crumpled, or torn. This in itself is often painless, since its dead tissue. However, it does expose the area where your nails meet your skin, and makes infection much more likely. Often when the cuticle area is red and swollen, what's happened is that a gap was opened in the cuticle, and bacteria have made their way in.
This sort of injury is much more likely when the cuticle is dry and brittle, so one of the best ways to protect yourself against such an injury is to keep your cuticles well-moisturized. Unfortunately, most of the lotions and ointments you can buy will only provide a temporary solution, because they can't be properly absorbed by the skin cells of the cuticle. So, while they make it appear as if the cuticle is well-moisturized, in actuality they've only treated the outermost layers of skin cells.
How Essential Oils Can Help
Essential oils are much more easily absorbed by the dead skin cells of the cuticle than any lotion. They can penetrate through the entire cuticle and fully moisturize the tissue. This can provide long-lasting relief from dry cuticles and dramatically strengthen the tissue, reducing the likelihood of a cuticle injury leading to infection.
In addition, many essential oils have powerful antibiotic properties. So, many of these oils, in addition to strengthening the tissue, will also destroy the bacteria trying to make their way into your body. Applying essential oils to your cuticles is a great way to boost your body's defense against these microscopic invaders.
In addition to helping your cuticles, applying essential oils here can actually help your nails and the nail bed, too. Most oils will be absorbed deeply into the tissue and will easily penetrate into the nail bed, which is the tissue that supports the growth and maintenance of the nail itself. You'll likely find that using essential oils to heal your cuticles will end up greatly strengthening the whole nail, too.
Best Essential Oils for Cuticles
Not every essential oil is good for every purpose, although there are a few that have such a wide range of uses they're essentially "one size fits all" oils. Make sure that you're using essential oils that will really work for your cuticles. The following are the best essential oils for cuticles.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is often our "go-to" oil, because it seems as though it can be used to treat nearly every condition you can imagine. It's a remarkably versatile oil that's almost certain to help with all kinds of problems.
Lavender is most known for it's soothing, relaxing properties that make it an especially effective anti-anxiety tool, as well as a powerful sleep aid. In addition to bottles of the pure essential oil, you can find lavender oil in lotions and air fresheners that are marketed as sleep aids and aromatherapy products.
Lavender is also a remarkably effective painkiller, so in addition to soothing your nerves it will literally soothe your pain if you have damaged, inflamed, or infected cuticles. It's an effective antibiotic, too, so if your cuticles are already infected it may just be the best choice as it will simultaneously reduce the pain and treat the infection.
Lavender has the great advantage of having been put through the scientific ringer, with study after study on its effectiveness. The results are clear: lavender really works. Just about every claim made about lavender's medicinal properties has held up to intense scrutiny.
In fact, in one study, lavender aromatherapy was found to be just as effective as pain medication in reducing pain during childbirth. As that's one of the most intense and painful experiences a human can go through, it's hard to imagine a more powerful statement of lavender's effectiveness.
The primary mechanism through which lavender treats pain and anxiety is by reducing inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural immune response to many things, but it cause pain and, in our modern world with all its stresses, pollutants, and toxins, many people are experiencing chronic inflammation. This can cause a myriad of health problems, including anxiety. Lavender is very effective at treating this.
The combination of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions makes lavender ideal for treating damaged, swollen, infected cuticles. Added to a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil, which have natural moisturizing properties, it can make an incredible difference in your cuticle health.
When buying an essential oil, you should always purchase an oil that has been cold pressed or steam distilled. These are the gentlest methods of extraction, so they don't damage the delicate compounds of the essential oils.
They're also the only methods that produce a pure, natural oil. Cheap essential oils are often extracted using harsh chemical solvents that can not only damage the oils, but also remain in them. Which means when you use the oil, you're exposing yourself to those chemicals, too.
This lavender oil is steam distilled for purity and potency. It's extracted from the finest Bulgarian lavender and bottled with no added ingredients. We highly recommend it.
Myrrh Essential Oil
Myrrh isn't just one of the gifts of the Magi. It's an ancient oil that's been used for medicinal and religious purposes for so long its use predates recorded history. Ancient Egyptians used it in their embalming ritual. Ancient Hebrews burned it as incense and used it when they prepared the dead for burial.
It has a long history of use in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, too. It's long been recognized for its antimicrobial properties and it's moisturizing ability for the skin. It's very effective at reducing skin irritation, and can even be used as an aftershave treatment to prevent or treat razor burn.
Like lavender, myrrh can be used to help relieve stress and diffuse anxiety, while uplifting the mood. It's most popular use throughout it's history has been as a skin treatment. It promotes smooth, youthful-looking skin and can improve complexion.
It's one of the best, if not the best, treatments for your cuticles. It's a powerful moisturizer with long-lasting benefits, and it's healing properties will extend beyond the cuticle and down into the nail bed as well, leading to healthier, stronger nails overall.
Myrrh is made from the sap of a tree native to the Middle East and North Africa. The trunk of the tree is cut and when the sap leaks out, it dries and hardens into a tough, durable resin. This resin is what is burned as incense in religious ceremonies and aromatherapy. In fact, it may represent the oldest form of aromatherapy.
To extract the essential oil from this resin, some manufacturers turn to chemical solvents, but the most reputable companies will use steam distillation. This extraction method leads to a very pure, potent oil with all of its delicate aromatic compounds intact, and no potentially harmful chemicals left in the oil.
This myrrh oil is steam distilled from resin harvested in Somalia, where myrrh has been harvested for millennia. It's pure, potent, and, highly recommended as a cuticle oil.
Frankincense and Myrrh Essential Oil Combo
Frankincense and myrrh essential oils have several health benefits including: boosting immune system and relieving stress and anxiety.
Vivorific’s frankincense and myrrh essential oil combo is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is most commonly used in hair products, particularly shampoo and conditioner. People like it for its scent but also for it's purported benefits to the hair and scalp. This includes healthier hair follicles, stronger hair, and reduced dandruff.
Remember earlier when we mentioned that there's a cuticle that covers the base of each hair and the opening of the follicle?
Yep- it if benefits those cuticles, it can benefit other cuticles, too. Tea tree has many benefits, and it's a great oil to have on hand for a variety of uses.
Tea tree- not to be confused with tea plant, from which we get tea leaves- is a plant with a long history of medicinal usage. One of it's most significant benefits is its antifungal nature, which is how it combats dandruff. Dandruff is the result of a fungal infection, and tea tree oil kills the fungus and thus treats the root cause of the dandruff.
It can also be beneficial to fungal infections in and around our nails, which are more common than you may realize. A huge number of common nail problems are the result of a fungal infection, and regular application of tea tree oil to the cuticle can go a long way towards preventing this issues and treating them once they arise.
It's also highly effective at treating athletes foot- which is another type of fungal infection. It can also improve acne when used topically. Applying to your cuticles regularly can help deal with minor skin irritation and prevent fungal infections from taking hold, which makes it a very good preventative treatment for your cuticles and nails.
This tea tree oil is steam distilled from the leaves of tea trees grown in China. It's of the highest possible quality, and 100% pure.
Clove Essential Oil
You're probably familiar with cloves as a spice. They're common in Indian cuisine, although Mexican and Latin American cuisines, along with Middle Eastern North African all make heavy use of them. In European and North American homes they're used in a variety of desserts and beverages.
They have a pungent and potent smell which is spicy, camphorous, and vaguely menthol-like. A little bit of cloves will go a long way. While they've been used as a spice for thousands of years, they've been used as medicine for just as long.
Cloves are an incredibly strong painkiller and antibacterial agent, and they've been especially useful as a dental medicine. A common practice has been to chew cloves to relieve toothache. They quickly numb the inside of the mouth, while also killing off the bacteria that are infecting the tooth.
Cloves have also been used in poultices to treat wounds on other parts of the body, where their combination of numbing and cleansing would dramatically improve the odds of healing from a wound that might otherwise fester and become a real problem.
Clove oil can still be used in this manner, and in a topical application can even relieve muscle pain. It also improves digestion and can help treat coughing and asthma.
If your cuticle has been damaged and is inflamed, clove oil will relieve the pain while also treating any infection that's taken hold. In this way it can dramatically speed up the healing process and return your cuticles to their normal health quickly.
This clove oil is extracted using 100% natural methods and is pure, and highly potent. We strongly recommend this as a cuticle treatment oil.
How to Use Essential Oils
While there are many different ways to use essential oils, there's really only one method for cuticles, and that's topical application. Take a few drops of your essential oils, blend them with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil, and then rub it into your cuticles.
Essential oils can help treat your dry, inflamed cuticles better than any of the lotions or ointments you can find in the pharmacy. Try out a blend of the oils we've listed here to experience their full benefits.
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