Taking care of your nails

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BY CYNTHIA WAIRIMU

Do you ever look at your finger/toe nails and think, oh no? Have you ever been minding your own business walking about and then suddenly come across a person with well-manicured finger nails that made you question your own grooming and hygiene? You are not alone.

The art of nail care has been around for years and it keeps getting better and crazier with every trend!

So how well do you take care of your nails? Must you see a professional every time you chip a nail? Not necessarily. Sometimes the temptation to just bite them off and get it over and done with is a tad high, however, if you do it wrong, you risk getting an infection and let’s face it, nail biting does not always yield neat results.

Procedure

What then are the tools of trade when cutting your nails? We have the good old nail clipper otherwise known as a nail cutter, fingernail scissors, pliers style finger nail cutters, and nail files.

Wash your hands with some anti-bacterial soap before starting on your nails. This is usually so as so avoid spreading bacteria into any accidental cuts. Do not soak, as soft nails are easy to tear as opposed to firm nails.

Cut your nails, but not too short as you risk cutting your skin. It is so uncomfortable when you have cuts on your arms and still need to clean and do chores. The ordinary nail cutter does the job well enough. If you need more precise work, then you are better off with the pliers style finger nail cutter as it is designed to style your nails at odd angles even.

File your nails in one direction. Going back and forth using a nail file will weaken your nails, and there is high risk of grazing your skin in the process as well. Filing in one direction will give you a smooth finish.

My emphasis is on fingernails, however, the same easy steps can be made for the toenails, the difference being, toenails are usually tougher therefore requiring a little more effort. Avoid using the same tools for both your fingernails and toenails as the toes may be exposed to bacterial and/or fungal components that can be transferred to the finger nails.

Keep your Cuticles

Another debatable error that a lot of people make, including professionals at spas, is to cut off the cuticles. Cuticles are the skin around your nail that protects the nail bed. What then are the risks of trimming one’s cuticles? When they are left to go wild, they usually look hideous, which is why most people choose to do away with. However, in doing so, the tools could transfer infection to your nail bed. It is also very painful and takes quite some time to heal. I am talking exposure to warts, herpes, infections that could cause your nails to fall off. Infections such as Hepatitis C that can remain alive on dry blood for up to 72 hours thus can very easily be contracted when the tools have not been sterilized well. You could also end up with a case of hang nails which can result from dry skin that is often exposed to chemicals (detergents, sprays, etc.) as well as constant contact with water. They are usually unsightly and uncomfortable to have around.

Do your research

It is your body and you have every right to protect it to the best of your knowledge without apology. Before letting anyone handle your nails, find out how they sterilize their equipment. The presence of sterilization bags or machines does not equate to properly cleaned tools. To avoid the risks that come from this gross mistake, speak up or pick a spa that cares about the well-being of their clientele without negligence.  Do not be afraid to ask that they do not trim your cuticles but gently push them in. 

Next time we will look at problems affecting nails, how to fix them and what not to do or use, if you are to maintain healthy nails!