Nail Care Do’s & Don'ts

Written by Kristina Collins, M.D., FAAD

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to nail care.

Nail Do’s:
  • Keep your nails clean and trimmed fairly short. The longer the nails are, the more likely you are to deal with breakage and other issues.
  • When trimming your fingernails, trim straight across or with a slight curve, following the shape of the fingertip.
  • When trimming your toenails, going straight across is best to prevent painful ingrown toenails.
  • Take care of any hangnails that may arise.
  • Wear flip flops in the gym shower or locker room as well as in public pool facilities in order to prevent fungal infections of the toenails or feet.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of nutrients. Nails often reflect our internal health so good nails start from within.
  • Avoid excessive water contact and dry your nails completely after washing.
Nail Don’ts:
  • Don’t pick at the nail, bite the nail, or push the cuticles back. These things can affect nail growth (sometimes permanently) and put you at risk for infections.
  • Don’t traumatize the nail with excessive styling. Just as over-processing or styling our hair can lead to damage, excessive filing, painting, and otherwise styling the nails can seriously impact nail health. It’s usually best to minimize the use of nail polish remover to twice a month, as it can be quite harsh on the nail. And especially avoid the use of artificial nails — these are SURE to damage the nail.
  • Don’t wear shoes that are too narrow or fit improperly.
  • Don’t wear dirty socks or gloves, or share unsterilized nail tools like clippers and files. All of these things can lead to nail infections.