Manicures are amazing, but cuticle problems that can occur because of them are not. If this happens to you, don’t neglect your cuticle hoping it will clear up on its own; instead follow these instructions to avoid further infection. If that fails, see your doctor.

Here’s the boring stuff: the technical term for a cuticle infection is paronychia and it occurs when the cuticle area, the skin around the fingernail, is over-cut and becomes infected with staph bacteria. A bacterial cuticle infection will become red, inflamed and painful with a pus-filled blister under the skin. Don’t overlook this seemingly innocuous infection because if not treated properly, it will spread. A simple cuticle infection can even lead to the loss of a finger, yikes! Treating it is simple if you are diligent.

Things You'll Need

Keep the area clean by washing it with soap and water, then buy yourself white vinegar and mix it with equal parts water in a small bowl. Dip your infected finger in the bowl and keep it there for 15 minutes. It might sting at first, and if the pain is too intense, add more water to the mixture.

After soaking the infected area, wash your finger to get rid of the vinegar smell. Then put Mupirocin (brand name Bactroban, the ointment used to treat staph infections) on the infection and cover it with a band-aid. If you don’t have Bactroban, try to get a prescription from your dermatologist. Use regular over-the-counter antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin until you can obtain the prescription for Mupirocin.

The trick to using the ointment is to keep it on the infected area for at least 30 minutes. Refrain from washing your hands or bathing for 30 minutes after you apply it.

You will have to repeat these steps twice a day and keep up the routine for at least one week. Taking an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen can also help reduce the swelling and pain.

If the infection has not cleared after one full week, you may have to be put on antibiotics. If you notice the infection getting worse, see your doctor immediately.

Another tip is to always bring your own manicuring tools to ensure that cuticle scissors used on someone else aren’t used on you.  If you think you can get away without cutting your cuticles, don’t get them cut; instead, gently push them back with a soft rubber tip. This will greatly decrease your risk of potential infections. Oil is a miracle aid for cuticles, so apply it daily and your cuticles will instantly look better.