Exercising, eating healthy and showering are common everyday things many of us do to take care of our bodies. But when it comes to our nails, we often pay attention to them only when they need to be trimmed or polished. The reality is that mistreating our nails, or not caring for them properly, can negatively affect your health.
You’ve probably heard many of these tips on how to keep your nails healthier and looking their best, but you may not be aware of what could happen if you ignore them. Here are a few ways mistreating your nails could potentially backfire on you.
Don’t bite your nails.
Even though we’ve heard this time and time again, nearly half of all children bite their nails, and many continue throughout adulthood. Nail-biting can not only damage the skin around the nail but it can also increase your risk for infection, harm your teeth and contribute to jaw pain or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. Boredom, stress and anxiety are all triggers for nail biting. Some tips to stop include keeping your nails trimmed short, identifying your triggers and replacing the nail-biting habit with a good habit, such as playing with a stress ball to keep your hands busy.
Quit messing with your cuticles and hangnails.
Many people pick at their cuticles or pull their hangnails, but these habits may cause damage and may increase your risk for infection. Apply nail oil or hand cream to the nails and skin surrounding the nails to further help reduce peeling skin (and the temptation to pick at it).
Use acetone-free nail polish remover and stay moisturized.
With all the different varieties of manicures and pedicures you can get today, from gel and acrylic to dip polishes, it’s hard for your nails to get a break. The polish and chemicals used in manicures and pedicures tend to dry out your nails. This can decrease their flexibility, making them prone to splitting and peeling. Applying a protective layer like a formaldehyde- and toluene-free nail hardener may help strengthen your nails in between manicures and pedicures. Also, try using acetone-free nail polish remover to prevent drying, splitting and peeling of the nails.
Keep fingernails dry and clean.
Try thinking about how many times you wash your hands or clean the dishes. It can add up rather quickly. Each time you expose your nails to water or chemicals, you are putting them at risk for yeast and bacteria to grow under or around the nails. Too much water exposure may even cause your fingernails to split. Consider wearing gloves with cotton liners when cleaning with chemicals or washing dishes.
Practice good nail hygiene.
Many of us maintain good hygiene by showering daily but often overlook the importance of practicing good nail hygiene. Here are some ways you can care for your nails on a routine basis.
- Trim your nails with sharp manicure scissors or nail clippers, then gently file away any sharp edges to avoid scratching yourself.
- Use a soft nail brush to clean under the nails.
- Avoid using sharp tools under the nails as this can lift the nail and welcome bacteria.
- Apply moisturizer to your hands, fingernails and cuticles to help keep them hydrated.
Nail changes are also important to pay attention to, because they could be cluing you in on your overall health.
Instead of ignoring your nails until they need cosmetic attention, you may want to consider giving them the proper care they need before it starts affecting your health.
Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you have further questions regarding nail health.