Do's and Don'ts for Healthy Nails

Fingernail care: Do's

To keep your fingernails looking their best:
  • Keep fingernails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails. Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to split fingernails. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
  • Practice good nail hygiene. Use a sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve.
  • Use moisturizer. When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too.
  • Apply a protective layer. Applying a nail hardener might help strengthen nails.
  • Ask your doctor about biotin. Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.

Fingernail care: Don'ts

To prevent nail damage, don't:
  • Bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection.
  • Pull off hangnails. You might rip live tissue along with the hangnail. Instead, carefully clip off hangnails.
  • Use harsh nail care products. Limit your use of nail polish remover. When using nail polish remover, opt for an acetone-free formula.
  • 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.

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