A Top Dermatologist’s Advice About Fingernails & Toenails

Tips for Healthy Nails

Nails are more than a fashion statement. They reflect your overall health. Here, from the American Academy of Dermatology, is expert advice on caring for your nails to keep them looking their best.

“Always keep your nails clean and dry and cut nails straight across using sharp nail scissors or clippers,” said board-certified dermatologist Phoebe Rich, MD, FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, Portland. “Slightly round the tips of your nails to provide maximum strength. Never bite your nails or remove the cuticle. Not only do these actions damage the nail, they also increase the risk of infection.”

Dr. Rich shares more nail tips:

*Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.

*Do not use your nails as a tool, such as for opening pop cans.

*Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.

*When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.

*Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see a dermatologist for treatment.

*Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day. *Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails. “If you notice changes in your nails or experience swelling or pain, see a board-certified dermatologist as these can be signs of serious nail problems,” said Dr. Rich. “It’s very important to see a dermatologist if you have diabetes or poor circulation and experience nail problems as nail infections could affect your overall health.” Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or http://www.aad.org/. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).
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