Adorning the fingernails with polish and nail art has become a common element of many beauty routines. However, what lies beneath those pretty nails can significantly impact your health. Read on to learn why it is so important to keep your nails clean.
Nails Provide a Hiding Place for Germs
The area under the tips of the fingernails can harbor dirt, fungus, and bacteria. Even frequent hand washing won’t necessarily take care of this problem.
Your nails act as barriers to germs, protecting your fingers and toes from infection. That said, the protective effect is lost if you allow bacteria and fungus to persist under the tips of the nails.
Trim nails weekly with clean, sanitized clippers or scissors. Then, use a soft nail brush to clean under the nail. Avoid using a metal tool under your nail tip, as this could pull the nail away from the nail bed and invite infections.
Longer Isn’t Necessarily Stronger
The trend for super long acrylic nails may be fashionable, but having extra long nails only provides more area for germs and dirt to gather. Plus, the chemicals necessary to bond the false nail to the natural nail surface, and later remove it, can dry and weaken natural nails, causing cracking or peeling.
For lovers of a pretty manicure, try a shorter nail shape created from a polish that soaks off quickly,minimizing the time you must expose your nails to acetone polish remover.
Keep an Eye on the Skin Around Your Nails
Your nails and the skin around them can serve as early warning signals for a variety of health conditions. If you notice redness or swelling in the skin around your nails or thickening of the nail, see your doctor to identify any potential infections or warning signs of disease.
In addition to keeping your nails trimmed and using a soft brush to clean under them, the Center for Disease Control recommends that you:
- Clean your nail grooming tools before each use.
- Avoid cutting cuticles or tearing hangnails. Your cuticles act as infection barriers, and tearing or biting at hangnails can create an avenue for germs to enter. Carefully clip hangnails with a sterilized nail clipper instead.
- Resist any urge to bite or chew on your nails.
Bacterial or fungal infections of the nails can cause serious health consequences if they go untreated. It’s so important to keep your nails clean because doing so is a form of preventative care. Also, next time you see your doctor, make sure to have them examine your nails to identify any warning signs of health issues that may need attention. These could include thyroid issues, liver disease, heart conditions, arthritis, or kidney disease.