Proper nail care is important to your health, your appearance and your self-esteem. Your nails can even help a doctor diagnose a medical condition. The good thing is that proper nail care is not difficult. Here are some do’s and don’ts for fingernail and toenail care.

  • Keep them short and clean. Use a good nail clipper or a small nail scissors to cut them every week or two. If you let your nails get too long, they’re more likely to break and to get germs under them that can make you sick.
  • Cut them in the shape of the tip of your finger, pretty straight across but a little round at the sides so they’re strong.
  • Cut your toenails straight across, using a clipper designated for toenails. This will help prevent an ingrown toenail.
  • Using a nail file or emery board to smooth the ends of your nails. Make sure that the file is not old and dull. It will work better if it is new. Rub it back and forth very gently along the end of your nail to remove any rough edges.
  • Dry your hands really well after washing them or getting them wet.
  • Rub lotion on your fingernails, especially when your hands feel dry.
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet keeps your nails strong.
  • Change your socks every day. 
  • Wear flip-flops in public showers and at the pool to prevent infections caused by a fungus that can get under your toenails.

  • Bite your nails or pick at the skin around your nails. It can cause an infection and it hurts, too!
  • Pry or poke at things with your nails. This can damage them.
  • Cut or push back the cuticles, the tiny sliver of skin where your nail grows out your finger. That can lead to infection.
  • Use nail-polish remover more than twice a month. It’s really hard on your nails.
  • Use acrylic nails (artificial nails). These can be very harmful to your nail and are not recommended.
  • Wear shoes that are too tight, which can cramp your toes.
  • Wear socks when you go to sleep.
If you’re having problems with your nails, seek a medical examination and the specialized expertise of a board-certified dermatologist.