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Care Of The Nails

Source: A Handbook Of Health

Importance of Clean Nails. On account of their constant use, your
hands are brought in contact with dusty or dirty substances in your work
and in your play; and it is very easy for some of this dirt, and such
germs as it may contain, to lodge in the little chink under the free
edge of the nail, between it and the rounded end of the finger. It is of
great importance that this nail chink should be kept clean, not only
because it looks both ugly and untidy to have the ends of your fingers
in mourning, with black bands across them, but also because the germs
lodged under your nails may get onto your food the next time that you
eat, and set up irritation and fermentation in your stomach. They may
also cause other trouble; for instance, if your collar chafes the back
of your neck, and to relieve the itching you rub it a little too hard
with your finger, your nail may scratch the skin; and if it be blackened
with infectious dirt, this may get into the little scratch and give rise
to a boil, or a festering sore.

How to Clean the Nails. This cleaning of the nails, however, must be
done carefully and gently; for, if too harsh methods are used, the
delicate skin on the under surface of the nail will be torn, the nail
will be roughened or split, the dirt will work in just that much deeper
next time, and the germs in it may set up inflammations under the nail.
For this reason it is best not to use a sharp-pointed knife in cleaning
the nails, but a blunt-pointed nail cleaner, such as can be bought for a
few cents at any drug store, or such as many pocket-knives are now
provided with. It is also best to trim the nails with a file or with
scissors, instead of a knife, as the latter may split or tear the nail,
or cut down to the quick. Before any of these are used, the nails should
be thoroughly softened in warm water, and scrubbed with a moderately
stiff nailbrush, such as should be kept on every washstand.

It is also best not to push back the fold of skin at the base of the
nails, with instruments of any sort; or indeed, with anything harder
than the ball of the thumb or finger. This fold protects the delicate
growing part, or root, of the nail; and if it is shoved back too
vigorously, the root may become exposed, or even inflamed and infected,
and cause one of those extremely irritating little sores known as a

Next: Diseases And Disturbances Of The Skin

Previous: Baths And Bathing

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