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Tips for Healthy Nails

THURSDAY, Feb. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Want to have attractive, well-groomed hands? Here's a guide to the right way to trim your nails.

The American Academy of Dermatology notes that short, manicured nails not only look great, but are less likely to trap dirt and bacteria that can lead to infection. And the correct nail clipping technique can also prevent hangnails and ingrown toenails, academy experts said.

"Short nails stay cleaner and break less often, which is good for both your appearance and your health," nail specialist Dr. Shari Lipner said in an academy news release.

"Nails are a reflection of your overall health," Lipner added. "Keep an eye on your nails, and if you notice a change in the color, texture or shape of your nail, see a board-certified dermatologist. While some changes are harmless, others could be a sign of a disease, such as melanoma, or an infection, such as a nail fungal infection."

Lipner recommends the following:

  • Soften your nails first. The best time to trim your nails is after taking a bath or shower. If that's not possible, soak your nails in lukewarm water for a few minutes.

  • Use the correct clipper. Use a nail clipper or nail scissors for your fingernails and a toenail clipper for your toenails. Clippers should be regularly disinfected: Use a small scrub brush that's been soaked in a bowl of isopropyl alcohol, then scrub your clippers or scissors and rinse them in hot water and dry them before putting them away.

  • For fingernails, cut almost straight across the nail. Then use a nail file or emery board to slightly round the corners. This can keep them strong and prevent them from catching.

  • To reduce the odds of an ingrown toenail, cut toenails straight across.

  • Use a nail file or emery board to smooth uneven or rough edges. Always file the nail in the same direction -- filing back and forth can weaken nails.

  • Don't fuss over your cuticles. Cuticles protect the root of the nail, which is why you shouldn't cut or push them back. Trimming or cutting your cuticles can invite bacteria and other germs into your body, causing an infection. A nail infection can take a long time to clear.

  • After trimming, moisturize your nails to keep them flexible. This is very important when the air is dry, because dry nails split easily.

More information

The Mayo Clinic offers more information on nail care.

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, press release, Feb. 12, 2019

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