The Best Ways To Clean Under Your Nails And Keep Them Healthy

Despite our best efforts, dirt and grime still manage to make their way into the nooks and crannies of our fingernails. Oftentimes, however, there's a lot more than just dirt that can be found under our nails. Healthline notes that in a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, 100% of all 20 student participants were found to have bacteria lurking underneath their nails, including those responsible for staph infection. Experts at Medical News Today add that in addition to dirt and bacteria, fungus and dead skin cells can also be found occupying the space underneath our nails.

By keeping our nails squeaky clean, we can help reduce our risk for illness, notes Medical News Today. But what's the best way to go about doing so? As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nail hygiene is not something to be implemented sporadically, but rather on a daily basis. In addition to regular trimmings, the undersides of our nails should be tended to during every hand-wash session. Of course, the two most important components of any nail cleaning are soap and water. However, there is some debate amongst health experts as to whether or not a nail brush is also advised.

The pros and cons of a nail brush

First and foremost, the CDC advises thoroughly sanitizing any nail instruments prior to usage, such as a nail brush. Healthline notes that some people find a nail brush helpful to reach those tricky, deeper areas underneath the nail. For those who opt to use a nail brush, be sure to clean the brush before and after use and leave it out to thoroughly dry to help safeguard against bacterial growth. As an alternative for children, Medical News Today suggests utilizing a soft toothbrush, which may be easier on their nails.

On the flip side, however, dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern, who specializes in nail health, tells Women's Health Magazine that it may be best to forgo the nail brush altogether. "Because they can't be sterilized, they have the potential to continuously harbor bacteria," Dr. Stern tells the publication. Providing an alternative nail-cleaning solution, Dr. Stern states, "Digging your nails into a bar of white soap in the shower will help to pull out dirt and debris and makes the whites of your nails whiter."

In addition to keeping the undersides of your nails clean and sparkly, Healthline also suggests using a nail-strengthening product on a weekly basis, regularly moisturizing, wearing protective work gloves, and eating vitamin-rich foods to help keep your nails strong and healthy.