Tips for cleaning under the nails and avoiding mycosis and infections

Proper hand and foot hygiene involves cleaning and trimming nails. Dirt and pathogens can accumulate under the nails and spread infections. Although it can be difficult to clean these areas, following certain tips and maintaining good nail hygiene can help individuals reduce the risk of potential complications.

Fingernails and toenails are the structures at the end of appendages, like fingers and toes. They are mainly made of a substance called keratin and play a role in touch, allowing people to scratch. Healthy nails typically exhibit characteristics such as uniform size and shape, as well as a smooth, shiny appearance. Many conditions can affect the nails, and some conditions can be prevented by keeping the nails clean and dry.

As people often use their nails for a number of tasks, it is not uncommon to find dirt, bacteria, fungus, and dead cells under the nail. Practicing good nail care and hygiene can help prevent the buildup of unwanted material and the transmission of disease. Soap, water and a soft nail brush can be used to effectively clean under the nails.

Here are some tips for properly cleaning the nails of the hands and feet and remembering the importance of hand and foot hygiene.

How to properly clean your nails?

It can be easy to not clean properly or frequently under the fingernails, which can allow dirt to build up over time. Ideally, you should clean your nails every time you wash your hands. Typically, this involves scrubbing the underside of the nails with soap, water, and a nail brush. Some people may find it easier to clean their nails during or after a shower or bath. Similarly, for carers cleaning children’s nails, it is advisable to use a combination of soap, water, and a soft nail or toothbrush to keep the underside of the nail clean. Also, any nail grooming tool should be thoroughly cleaned before use.

It may be difficult for some people to follow this advice to the letter. However, it is important that people try to clean their nails properly and frequently, as much as possible.

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Why should you clean your nails?

As a 2017 study explains, it’s very easy for people to unwittingly transmit pathogens from their hands to their bodies through their eyes, mouth, or skin. This can happen when an individual rubs their eyes, eats with their hands, or scratches their skin. Nails can also harbor a host of bacteria. This is especially true for long nails, which are more likely to carry dirt and grime. However, clean nails host fewer pathogens, which is a clear incentive to maintain good nail hygiene. Apart from bacteria, pathogens present under the nails can also include fungi. For example, a type of fungus known as dermatophytes is a common cause of nail infections and can lead to onycholysis. Nail infections can lead to discoloration and thickening of the nails, and make the nails more susceptible to cracking and breaking.

In addition, pinworm infections can also result from poor nail hygiene. This is a type of parasite that can spread through the fecal-oral route. This is the transfer of infectious pinworm eggs from the anus to a person’s mouth, which can be done directly through the hands. As such, proper nail hygiene can help prevent various nail conditions.

Tips for nail care

Here are some tips to help maintain healthy nails:

– keep nails clean and dry
– cut the nails in a straight line
– use a file to remove any snags on the nail
– do not bite your nails
– do not use fingernails to open cans or as a tool
– cut your nails regularly
– wear well-fitting shoes
– wear flip flops in public swimming pools and showers
– never pull on the nails

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Also, one should disinfect nail grooming tools and pay attention to any changes in the color, texture, or shape of the nail, as this could indicate an infection.
People can also take steps to reduce the risk of nail conditions. For example, people can wear proper footwear when going to the pool or sauna, or wear gloves if working in a humid environment to help prevent fungal infections from the Safe Source.

Risks and Considerations

It is important to use proper nail tools and to disinfect them regularly before using them. This is especially important if multiple people are sharing the tools, such as a partner, family member, or people in a nail salon. In addition, it is advisable to clean and maintain one’s nails in a proper way to avoid any injury, for example, by exerting an appropriate pressure when using a nail brush, by using an adequate technique when of the cut and leaving the cuticles alone.
The cuticles are the thin layer of skin that covers the bottom part of the nail. Cutting this area can increase the risk of nail infection.

How to Clean Toenails

Just as cleaning fingernails can improve hand health, cleaning toenails can contribute to foot health. Although there is less chance of pathogens moving from toenails to other parts of the body, it is still important to practice good hygiene and clean them regularly to prevent infections from developing. . Cleaning toenails follows similar guidelines as fingernails, but can be slightly more difficult due to the position of the feet. It is important to sterilize equipment and use proper nail clipping techniques. Avoid using sharp tools to clean under the toenails and dry the feet after cleaning to reduce the risk of infection.

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Nail cleaning is an important part of maintaining proper nail care and hygiene. It is a simple and effective technique that can help reduce the risk of infections, which could affect the nails or other parts of the body. People are advised to regularly clean their fingernails and toenails using proper technique and sterile equipment. In general, it involves using nail clippers, soap, water and a soft nail brush to cut the nails and help remove material from under the nail.


Bodman, MA, et al. (2021). Onychomycosis.

Reinecke, JK, et al. (2020). Nail health in women.

Risan, M. (2017). Isolation and identification of bacteria from under fingernails.

* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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