Nail Care

September 17, 2011

One of the most common problems in caring for nails is picking and biting. The habit is common across all age groups. Picking and biting nails and cuticles increases the risk of infection by introducing bacteria. In general, the behavior often occurs as a result of anxiety or nervousness.

Filing, even of the cuticles, is often recommended in place of cutting or clipping. This allows the removal of dead skin and reduces the likelihood of injury. Lotions and exfoliants can be used to moisturize the area around the nails; cuticles should be kept moist and pushed back. Nails should be cared for in this manner at least once a month. Individuals with dry skin may wish to do it more frequently. Products containing aloe vera are often recommended, especially for individuals with eczema or other conditions involving dry skin.

Pain, swelling, and redness are signs that may indicate an infection or other problem, such as an in-grown nail. It is important to keep the area clean and to avoid “digging” into it in an attempt to cure the problem. In such situations, the individual may wish to consult a podiatrist (doctor who specializes in the care of feet).

A wide selection of “false” nails is available. If applied properly, acrylic nails are often the best because they adhere to the nail directly, so that the risk of infection is reduced. Other products, such as silk and fiberglass nails, are glue-based and are more likely to lift, increasing the time required to maintain and care for them properly as well as the risk of infection.

A manicurist should be selected based on the cleanliness of the facility and his or her practice, rather than on the basis of price. Consider the following.

  1. If the state requires a license to provide manicures to the public, the license should be appropriately displayed and should be current.
  2. All instruments used should be sterilized after each use or thrown away. Barbicide can be used to clean the equipment.
  3. Cuts on the manicurist’s hand(s) should be covered to avoid possible transmission of infection to others.
  4. The manicurist should ask, or be informed if she does not, if the client has a particular medical condition that may predispose the client to a greater risk of injury or infection. For instance, individuals on blood thinners (such as Coumadin) may be at greater risk of seriously bleeding if they are cut by accident. Diabetic clients may be more prone to infection.

The provision of nail care provides an important service to many women. A manicure enhances a woman’s appearance and the experience is often relaxing.

Women interested in becoming manicurists will find that the profession offers flexibility and independence. The practice can be easily moved and the hours can be tailored to fit any schedule. Manicurists can rent a booth at someone else’s salon or can enter an arrangement whereby they are paid minimum wage and a commission for working at a particular salon.

SEE ALSO: Diet, Foot care, Hair care, Skin care, Skin disorders

Suggested Reading

  • Ferri, E., Kenny, L., and Epstein, D. (1998). Style on hand: Perfect nail and skin care. New York: Universe Publishing.
  • Manos, F. (1998). Beautiful hands and nails naturally. New York: Avery Penguin Putnam.
  • Tourles, S. (1998). Natural foot care: Herbal treatments, massage, and exercises for healthy feet. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.

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