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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Nail Problems and Injuries - Prevention

To prevent common nail problems:

  • Apply hand cream frequently throughout the day. Be sure to massage the cream into the nail and cuticle.
  • Wear gloves when you are working in your garden or when the weather turns cold.
  • Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves or disposable plastic gloves to protect your hands from overexposure to water, detergents, and other chemicals.
  • Trim your fingernails weekly, after bathing, when they are softer.
    • Do not trim nails too short.
    • Use an emery board and sharp manicure scissors or clippers to trim your fingernails. Nails that are smooth and well-cared for are less likely to become damaged.
  • Trim toenails monthly camera.gif , after bathing.
    • Cut them straight across and leave the nails a little longer at the corners so that the sharp ends don't cut into your skin.
    • If you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or a disease that causes problems with your immune system, discuss with your doctor the best way to trim your toenails before trimming them yourself.
  • Be especially careful when trimming your baby's nails.
  • Avoid trimming your cuticles. Even a minor cut alongside your nail can cause infection.
  • Do not bite or pick at your nails.

To prevent a fungal nail infection:

  • Keep your feet clean and dry. Dry feet are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your feet when needed.
  • Wear clean, dry socks. Change your socks once a day or more frequently if they become wet.
  • Wear roomy shoes that allow air to circulate around your feet.
  • Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when you use public pools, spas, and showers.

To prevent problems with artificial nails:

  • Test for a reaction to the artificial nail by having just one nail applied. Wait several days to see whether redness, itching, pain, or rash around or under the nail or separation of the nail from the nail bed develops.
  • Do not apply an artificial nail if the nail or the skin around the nail looks irritated or infected.
  • If an artificial nail does separate from the nail bed, dip your fingertip into rubbing alcohol for 15 seconds before reattaching the artificial nail. This will clean the space between the nails.
  • Do not wear artificial nails for longer than 3 months at a time. Give your natural nails a month to rest before reapplying artificial nails.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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