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What kids should know about nail care

Nails are important

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.

Illustration of feet and hands


Keep them short and clean

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.

Illustration of a child's hand

Cut them in the shape of the tip of your finger

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.

Illustration of a index finger and its nail

Cut your toenails straight across

Cut your toenails straight across, using a clipper designated for toenails. This will help prevent an ingrown toenail.

Illustration of a correct way to cut toe nails

Emery board

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.

Illustration of emery boards for finger and toe nails

Ask for help

Ask your mom or dad for help if you don't know how to cut your nails.

Illustration for parent helping child to cut nails

Dry your hands

Dry your hands really well after washing them, or getting them wet.

Illustration of hands being dried

Use lotion

Rub lotion on your fingernails, especially when your hands feel dry.

Kid applying hand lotion illustration

Eat healthy foods

Eating a healthy balanced diet keeps your nails strong.

Illustration of fruits and vegetables

Change socks every day

Change your socks every day.

Child putting on socks illustration

Wear flip flops

Wear flip flops in public showers and at the pool to prevent infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.

Kids in a pool with a detail of flip-flops


Don't bite your nails

Don't bite your nails or pick at the skin around your nails. It can cause an infection and it hurts, too!

Illustration of do not bite your nails with a young child

Don't pry or poke with your nails

Don't pry or poke at things with your nails. This can damage them.

Illustration of hand, nail prying a jar open

Don't cut or push back the cuticles

Cut or push back the cuticles, the tiny sliver of skin where your nail grows out your finger. That can lead to infection.

Illustration of cuticles being pushed back

Don't use nail-polish remover more than twice a month

Don't use nail-polish remover more than twice a month. It's really hard on your nails.

Illustration of nail polish remover

Don't use acrylic nails

Don't use acrylic nails (artificial nails) as these can be very harmful to your nail and are not recommended.

Illustration of acrylic nails

Don't wear shoes that are too tight

Don't wear shoes that are too tight, which can cramp your toes.

Illustration of shoes that are too narrow and shoes that have the right fit.
Skin doctor = Dermatologist

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

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