Nail care

Because your nails are important and can even help a doctor find out if you are healthy or not, it's important to take good care of them. It's not that hard. Here are some dos and don'ts of fingernail and toenail care.

Do:

  • Keep them short and clean. Use a good nail clipper or a small nail scissors to cut them every week or two. If you let your nails get too long, they're more likely to break and to get germs under them that can make you sick.
  • Cut them in the shape of the tip of your finger, kind of straight across but a little round at the sides so they're strong.
  • Cut your toenails straight across, using a clipper designated for toenails.  This will help prevent an ingrown toenail.
  • Some people use a nail file or emery board (it looks like a popsicle stick with rough surfaces) to smooth the ends of their nails.  Make sure that the file is not old and dull. It will work better if it is new. Rub it back and forth very gently along the end of your nail to remove any rough edges.
  • Ask your mom or dad for help if you don't know how to cut your nails. 
  • Dry your hands really well after washing them, or getting them wet.
  • Rub lotion on your fingernails, especially when your hands feel dry.
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet keeps your nails strong.
  • Change your socks every day. 
  • Wear flip flops in public showers and at the pool to prevent infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.

Don't:

  • Bite your nails or pick at the skin around your nails. It can cause an infection and it hurts, too!
  • Pry or poke at things with your nails. This can damage them.
  • Cut or push back the cuticles, the tiny sliver of skin where your nail grows out your finger. That can lead to infection.
  • Use nail-polish remover more than twice a month. It's really hard on your nails.
  • Use acrylic nails (artificial nails) as these can be very harmful to your nail and are not recommended.
  • Wear shoes that are too tight, which can cramp your toes.

If you are having problems with your nails, ask your parents to take you to a skin doctor (dermatologist).

Next: Hangnails.

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