We are diligently washing our hands with soap and water every now and then and using hand sanitisers after touching any alien objects. But, are we maintaining nail hygiene? We have been always taught to take care of our nails and keep them clean, but we are forgetting these habits. “In India, all things including eating, washing clothes, utensils and even mopping the floor are done with bare hands, so it is important to keep our hands and nails clean. Nail hygiene is crucial as without which hand hygiene is incomplete. It’s is an integral part of our overall health. However, it is also one of the most neglected aspects. While the need for washing hands and maintaining appropriate hand hygiene is adequately underscored but nail hygiene often fails to get the attention it deserves,” says Rajesh U Pandya, Kai India.
Most young people are not adequately aware of the need to keep the nails clean, short and in hygienic condition as a preventive measure to keep the coronavirus infection or any other diseases at bay. With India having the culture of eating with hands, unhygienic nails can be a health disaster. The undersides of our nails can be a breeding ground for bacteria. When we use fingers to consume food, we can easily ingest the germs and dirt from the underside of unclean nails.
“Ignoring nail hygiene makes you susceptible to viral infections. Constant negligence towards nail hygiene causes a series of complications such as bacterial and viral infections. Often these complications result in serious health issues. Even if you wash your hands regularly but fail to clean the underside of your nails, your hand hygiene is not perfect. Practicing good nail hygiene involves following a systematic process to ensure longevity of your nail health structure. It includes ensuring that food particles are not sticking to your nail for a long duration and there is no build-up of bacteria,” he adds.
It is important therefore to maintain healthy manicure practices. That means washing your nails, thoroughly, sanitising under and around them, and keeping them away from your mouth (i.e. no nail-biting). Having a hygienic and personal nail clipper is another critical component of nail hygiene. Most people have no qualms about sharing nail clippers with others. This is however an extremely unhygienic practice. Nails harbour abundant germs, bacteria and viruses and sharing nail clippers is tantamount to exchanging those microorganisms.
Thankfully, maintaining good nail hygiene is not a difficult task. A little diligence, awareness and attention is sufficient to keep your nail healthy:
*Keep fingernails dry and clean, this prevents bacteria and fungal infections from growing under your fingernails. It has been seen that prolonged contact with water can lead to split fingernails. It’s always advisable to wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
*Practice good nail hygiene: Use a sharp stainless-steel nail clipper. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve. Always wash your hands and below the nails with soap and water after a nail clipping session.
*When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too. Our fingernails are made up of laminated layers of a protein called keratin and they grow from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Healthy fingernails are smooth, without pits or grooves. They’re uniform in colour and consistency and free of spots or discoloration.
Therefore, we have listed out the ways through which one can prevent damage of nails:
*Stop biting your fingernails: It damages the nail bed. A minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection. Plus, biting nails ill-transmit all the dirt and germs to your mouth.
*Never pull off hangnails: Instead, carefully clip off hangnails. Refrain from using harsh nail care products: Nail polish remover is one of the harshest products for your nails. So, always go for an acetone-free formula.
*Don’t ignore problems: If you have a nail problem that doesn’t seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, consult your doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation.
*Don’t have your cuticles removed — they act to seal the skin to the nail plate, so removal can lead to nail infection. Also, one should be careful that the nail technician is properly sterilising all the tools that will be used during the procedure to prevent the spread of infection.
*It’s easy to neglect your nails — but taking some basic steps can keep your fingernails healthy and strong. Use a good quality sharp stainless-steel clipper and prefer not to share with family members and friends.
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