Regular nail care results in healthy nails that you can be proud to take to work or out on the town. Your nail care plan can be simple and inexpensive. But being overly aggressive with cleaning and maintaining nails might actually put your normally strong nails at risk for yeast or bacterial infections. You won’t need frequent manicures to maintain good-looking nails if you follow these simple tips.
1. Keep nails shaped and trimmed
Trim and file your fingernails regularly. Use a sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve. It might be easiest to trim and file your fingernails when they’re soft, such as after bathing. Trimmed nails protect your wardrobe, preventing nails from tearing or catching on clothes and other items.
2. Keep nails dry and clean
This helps protect them from fungi and bacteria. This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails. Don’t fall for the labels on dishwashing soap claiming they are good for your nails. Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to split fingernails. Hot water and soap can be a damaging combination. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
3. Moisturize the cuticle area
The cuticles are the only line of protection between the nail bed and the bacteria and fungi of the world. Moisturizing them prevents hangnails, cracking and peeling, which can cause damage to the nail bed. Moisturizing just before bed is a perfect time. Massaging the cuticle area also stimulates blood circulation, which helps nail growth. When applying hand cream or sunscreen during the day, take an extra few seconds to rub a little on the cuticle area of each finger.
4. Sterilize nail tools
Don’t let your inner penny pincher convince you that the leopard print nail file you used in college is still an acceptable tool. Nail tools should be meticulously cleaned and sterilized and nail files should be replaced regularly to prevent bacteria and microbes from colonizing. Risking your health and well-being for a manicure is just not worth it, and that is a definite possibility with bacteria-laden nail instruments
5. Disinfect tears or cuts on the cuticle
Infections on this delicate area of skin around the nail are not only unattractive, but can cause long-term damage. Smoothing ragged edges and wrapping a broken nail in an adhesive bandage are fine, but if you see signs of infection, check in with your doctor for the needed nail care. Disinfect any tears or cuts immediately with antibacterial ointment. Any drugstore antibacterial ointment, such as Polysporin, Neosporin or Bacitracin, will do.
6. Treat ingrown and torn nails
Unsightly and painful, ingrown nails and torn nails should be treated immediately to avoid infection. Most respond well to home remedies including antibacterial ointment. This makes everyday tasks such as typing on a keyboard or doing the dishes painful. In rare cases, these conditions may need to be seen by a dermatologist.
7. Take zinc and biotin supplements
If you suffer from weak or brittle fingernails, these supplements often labeled “hair, nail and skin supplements” might be just what you need to strengthen your nails. The key is to look for a product with biotin, a B complex vitamin that can increase the thickness of nails. Biotin helps activate protein and amino acids, which stimulate nail growth and strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.
8. Wear gloves
Frequently immersing hands in hot, soapy water to wash dishes can weaken even strong nails, mostly because this process dries them out along with the rest of the skin on your hands. When you are standing at the sink washing dishes, using household chemicals to clean, or pulling weeds in your garden, your hands and nails are often taking a beating. Putting gloves on can protect both the hands and the nails from the wear and tear that these common activities cause.
9. Coat outside of nails with polish
Putting a clear coat or regular polish on the nails actually helps keep them moisturized, strengthen nails and prevents splitting or breakage. For a no-fuss natural look, simply apply a topcoat. Make sure your nails are clean and your tips look nice and white before applying any clear or sheer polish. Plus, keeping your nails pretty can actually make you want to point out menu items to your restaurant server or communicate with your hands.
10. Do get manicures
A weekly manicure even for short nails is key. Grooming your nails will make any shade look great, whether you do it at home or go to the salon. The most important thing is to start with a proper manicure so that the nails are the same length and shape, and cuticles are pushed back. Keep manicures simple to preserve healthy nails. Go in, get your nail polish removed, have them shape your nails, get a fresh coat, and be done with it. Skip the acrylic nails, which ultimately could lead to more infections.