Nails are more than a fashion statement – they reflect our overall health. A new video from the American Academy of Dermatology provides advice on caring for your nails to keep them looking their best.
“Always keep your nails clean and dry and cut nails straight across using sharp nail scissors or clippers. Slightly round the tips of your nails to provide maximum strength,” says board-certified dermatologist Phoebe Rich, MD, FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, Portland. “Never bite your nails or remove the cuticle. Not only do these actions damage the nail, they also increase the risk of infection.”
Dr. Rich shares more nail tips
1. Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.
2. Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening pop cans.
3. Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
4. When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see a dermatologist for treatment.
6. Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day.
7. Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.
When to see a doctor
“If you notice changes in your nails or experience swelling or pain, see a board-certified dermatologist as these can be signs of serious nail problems,” says Rich. “It’s very important to see a dermatologist if you have diabetes or poor circulation and experience nail problems, as nail infections could affect your overall health.”
These tips are demonstrated in “Tips for Healthy Nails,” a video posted to the Academy website and the Academy’s YouTube channel. This video is part of the Dermatology A to Z: Video Series, which offers relatable videos that demonstrate tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the Academy’s website and the YouTube channel each month.