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Can I cut the keratinised proximal nail fold?

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The Proximal Nail Fold is living tissue and the more it is damaged, i.e., cut, nipped, or abraded, the thicker and coarser it will grow. That is a fact of the skin’s physiology.

The PNF forms part of an important seal of the nail unit together with the cuticle (shed from the eponychium and made very ‘sticky’ so it sticks to the nail plate below and the PNF above it.) This seal needs to remain intact.

The frame of clear skin that is the distal edge of the PNF can grow wide because it is connected to the cuticle that grows along with the nail plate, so it gets stretched.

How the nail grows

What should be a ‘pleasing look’ is the seal intact and a very narrow and neat edge to the PNF. Many choose to create a look where there is no evidence of the seal. This leaves the area clearly open to the invasion of pathogens. This is an unfortunate perception of a “pleasing look” when, in fact, it is damaging.

Both many nail professionals and clients refuse to have any patience in creating a safe “pleasing look”. They want instant results. This can even go to the lengths where there is a wide gap between the damaged PNF and the nail plate. This, without exception, results in swollen and inflamed skin.

Breaking the seal by cutting the proximal nail fold
Breaking the seal by cutting the proximal nail fold

Instead, if the clear frame of the PNF is gently lifted from the cuticle and massaged daily with a good nail oil, it will shrink back and not be so obvious. But the seal will remain intact and the skin healthy.

The right oils are the answer to SO many problems with the nail unit! It may not be the instant result that many want but it is the safest. The “pleasing look” has come about due to the “instant gratification” that has grown in popularity. However, all it takes is just a little patience and understanding what is safe and what is harmful. (“Trout pout” for nails anyone?? No!)

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