Care Of The Nails

Sources: 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