Nail cuticle infections are often caused by bacteria, yeast or fungus. The medical term for an infection around the base of the nail is paronychia. Symptoms include redness, swelling and tenderness at the base of the nail, often the cuticle. The nail can become brittle, damaged or even fall off, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, but a variety of natural remedies can treat nail cuticle infections before the condition becomes too severe.
MedlinePlus advises patients to soak affected fingers in hot water two to three times a day to decrease infection. Several drops of tea tree oil can be added to the hand soak for additional relief. Tea tree oil has disinfectant, antibacterial and antifungal properties, according to MotherNature.com. An alternative to tea tree oil is grapefruit seed extract, which has the same properties, Vanderbilt University notes. Hands should be dried thoroughly after each session. Protect the nails from additional pain and keep dry by covering with rubber or plastic gloves when exposure to water occurs. It is important to keep hands dry throughout the day.
MayoClinic.com reports that soaking fingers in a vinegar solution may decrease fungal growth which often irritates cuticles. The website also nottes that vinegar may inhibit the growth of some types of bacteria. One part vinegar and two parts water create the vinegar soak. Fingers should be soaked in the solution for about 15 minutes. Cuticles may be soaked in the solution daily. However, if irritation occurs decrease treatment to two to three times a week. Additional water may also decrease irritation by slightly diluting the vinegar soak.
Removing additional bacteria and debris from the infected cuticle is critical. Washing hands with antibacterial soap when dirty and drying them is critical to stopping an infection, reports the American Osteophathic College of Dermatology. Lotion prevents hands from over drying and can be used if needed.
Hangnails often occur around the cuticle and may cause a severe cuticle infection. Hangnails should be clipped off with a pair of sterile scissors. Fingers may be soaked in warm water and oil solution to soften a hangnail. According to MotherNature.com, warm water and a few drops of bath oil will soften a hangnail and decrease the risk of irritation. Olive or safflower oil rubbed into the cuticles prevents hangnails from occurring.