Finger nail care do's and don'ts

Feb 25, 2020 | Joey Keillor | @joeykeillor

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As you age, your fingernails can naturally become weaker and prone to splitting. Try these do’s and don’ts to help keep them healthy and strong.

Do:

  •  Avoid extended fingernail wetness — Your fingernails aren’t waterproof. If they sit in water for a long time, it can make them more likely to split. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves during tasks such as washing dishes or cleaning.
  • Trim your nails — To keep fingernails strong, trim them straight with soft rounded corners. Use sharp manicure scissors or clippers, and try to trim them after a bath, shower or hand soak.
  • Use moisturizer — Dry nails are more prone to split, so make sure hand lotion reaches your fingernails and cuticles.
  • Clean under your nails — When washing your hands, don’t forget about germs on the underside of your nails. In addition to washing away germs with soap and water, a nail brush may be helpful.
  • Try a nail hardener to strengthen nails — But stay away from products with formaldehyde, as it can irritate the skin and repeated use may weaken nails.
  • Eat a balanced diet — Consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will ensure you get the necessary nutrients that can lead to healthier nails.

Don’t:

  • Pick at your nails — Don’t bite your fingernails, pick at your cuticles or pull off hangnails. You may damage the nail bed and increase your chances of infection. If you have a hangnail, carefully clip it off.
  • Frequently use nail polish remover — If needed, use an acetone-free remover.
  • Use nails like a tool — Don’t pry or scrape things with your nails, as this can harm them.

 

Do you have fingernail care tips to share with others? Join the discussion at Aging Well.

Learn more about the award-winning Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

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