Medically Reviewed by Dr. C.H. Weaver 08/04/21
Fortunately, there are simple steps people can take to properly care for their nails. “Nails need to be moisturized, especially after removing nail polish, so be sure to apply a cream regularly,” says board-certified dermatologist Phoebe Rich, MD, FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, in Portland, Oregon. “Always protect your cuticles. Never cut or forcefully push back your cuticles, as doing so could lead to an infection. If you must push them back, only do so gently after a shower or bath.”
Dr. Rich shares more top manicure and pedicure tips:
While most nail salons follow strict cleanliness and disinfection guidelines, look for the following when visiting a salon:
Does your nail technician have the necessary experience and/or license, if required?
Are the stations clean?
Does the nail technician wash her hands between clients?
Are there dirty tools lying around?
In addition, do not hesitate to ask how they clean their tools.
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Shave your lower legs after getting a pedicure, not before. That means not shaving your lower legs for at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure. If you nick yourself while shaving, a pedicure could put you at risk for an infection.
If you get frequent manicures and pedicures, consider purchasing your own tools to be used at the salon.
In addition, check that the pedicure footbaths and filters are thoroughly disinfected before you use them. If they are improperly cleaned, they can harbor bacteria and fungus. If the salon does not appear clean, then choose another one.
If you want to wear a bright red or orange polish, prevent discoloration by applying an extra layer of base coat. If your nails become yellowed and discolored from the polish, your nails should return to normal color over several weeks if the same color is not reapplied.
While some people beg to differ, there is no scientific evidence that immersing nails in gelatin makes them stronger. Polishes that contain strengthening ingredients increase nail stiffness, which may make nails break more frequently.
Do not wear artificial nails to cover up nail problems because they may make them worse. Artificial nails are not recommended for people who are prone to fungal infections or have brittle nails. For people with healthy nails, artificial nails can be fine as long as they are not worn continuously.
“If you wear artificial nails, know what products are used because the substances can cause an allergic reaction in some people,” Dr. Rich cautions. “If you develop a rash or other reaction, this information will be important to your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about caring for your nails, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”