By Rajesh U Pandya,
We are vigorously washing our hands with soap and water every now and then to keep the deadly virus at bay. We are also using hand sanitizers after touching any object we deem unsafe and potential carrier of the virus. But, are we maintaining nail hygiene? We’ve always been trained to keep our nails clean, mainly because we do a lot of things – eating, washing clothes, utensils, and even mopping the ground – with bare hands. It is important to keep our hands and nails clean. Nail hygiene is an integral part of our overall health and failing to ensure that can invite several diseases.
Nail hygiene is very important for the prevention of diseases as India has a culture of eating food with hands, which makes it more important to trim nails regularly and keep them clean. Keeping nails short and trimming them regularly, along with washing hands for at least 20 seconds, will prevent infections due to bacteria and viruses and will make the chance of getting diseases slimmer. It is estimated that regular hand washing can reduce the risk of diarrhea by up to 40 per cent, the respiratory problems caused by viral infections by up to 21 per cent, and the gastrointestinal illness among children by up to 57 per cent.
Proper hand hygiene includes cleaning and trimming of nails, which can harbor dirt and germs and may add to the spread of some infections. Fingernails should be kept short and the undersides should be washed frequently with soap and water. Longer fingernails can hold more dirt and germs than shorter ones, thus possibly add to the spread of infection. Before cutting or grooming nails, make sure all equipment is properly cleaned and sanitised. To help prevent the spread of infections through nails:
Keep nails short and trim them often. Scrub the underside of nails with soap and water (or a nail brush) each time you wash your hands. Also, clean any nail grooming tools before use.
Avoid biting or chewing nails. Never rip or bite a hangnail. Instead, cut it with a clean, sanitized nail cutter. Avoid cutting cuticles, as they act as barricades to stop infection. Respiratory pathogens like coronavirus can’t enter your body unless you allow them in through your eyes, nose, or mouth. Picking at nails and cuticles can put you in danger of bacterial infections around the fingernails.
In commercial settings like nail salons, sterilize nail grooming tools before use. Chipping nail enamel also allows viruses to cover cracks and crevices, so pay particular attention to those areas and remove nail enamel if its chipping is vital.
Avoid long or artificial nails because germs can board the crevices even after hand washing.
Sharing personal hygiene products can make you susceptible to infections. It only takes a little cut or scratch to form the body more susceptible to the entry of infection. Our hands and particularly feet are bed to several fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not sharing nail clippers mutually of the preventative measures against the spreading of the virus.
Most youngsters are not adequately conscious of the necessity to keep the nails clean and short. Negligence towards nail hygiene can cause a series of diseases, bacterial and viral infections, including by the deadly COVID-19 virus that is wreaking havoc across the country. Considering that fingernails can harbor tons of dirt and debris and can become COVID-19’s first route of communication, keeping our hands, and by extension our nails, clean is crucial. Lack of proper hand sanitization and particularly nail sanitation can cause several healthcare issues and make one visit doctors more often and may even cause hospitalization in certain cases. So, don’t let germs get you down. Clean your nails and your hands well so you can eat well, and stay healthy.
(The author is Managing Director, KAI India. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)
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