Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Why do cuticles grow over the fingernail?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do cuticles grow over the fingernail?


What causes cuticles to grow out over the fingernail? I feel like I'm constantly scraping back my cuticles, but they grow halfway up my nails if I let them. Is there some appropriate way to manage your cuticles to keep this from happening? Or could there be something strange about my fingernails in particular?


Many people have questions on how to take care of their fingernails. The doctors who are best able to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor and your dermatologist. Cuticles are an important part of the nail structure. They are composed of skin that grows over the base of the nail and that is important for keeping moisture, dirt, and infections out of the base of the nail. Long cuticles are basically a normal variant, not a nail disease. In fact, it is very important to avoid manipulating the cuticle to much. Aggressively pushing down the cuticle, cutting it it with sharp manicure tools, or biting it can lead to damage to the skin around the nail and infections which can look much worse! The only safe treatment is the frequent application of a cuticle moisturizer. This will minimize the thickness of the cuticle and may allow it to sit at the base of the nail without growing up as you describe. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your specific concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your primary care doctor or your dermatologist might be advised.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.