Nails are more than a fashion statement. They are an indicator of your overall health. "Always keep your nails clean and dry and cut nails straight across using sharp nail scissors or clippers. Slightly round the tips of your nails to provide maximum strength," says dermatologist Phoebe Rich, M.D., clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University in Portland. "Never bite your nails or remove the cuticle. Not only do these actions damage the nail, but also they increase the risk of infection."
Seven tips to keep your nails healthy and strong:
- Use an emery board to keep nails shaped and free of snags.
- Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening soda cans.
- Trim your toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
- When your 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 or podiatrist 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.