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Want healthy nails? Cut down on manicures

HOUSTON – If you're getting regular manicures, there are extra precautions to take in order to save your nails from damage.

Take a monthlong break

“Give your nails a break,” said Dr. Sherry Ingraham, of Advanced Dermatology in Katy.

Ingraham said for every three months of repeated manicures, give your nails one month off. 

Nothing but moisture

“Do not wear polish in those break periods. Polish dries out their nails but more than that, removing the polish with acetone really dries out the nails,” Ingraham said. “Cover your nails with a barrier product like Cerave, Aveeno Eczema Therapy or Vaseline so when you're washing dishes or cleaning the house, that water and chemicals are not constantly getting in that already weakened nail. You've got to protect that nail from the elements.”

Skin damage

“Another thing to think about, look for LED lights that cure these gel and shellac manicures. If you're using UV lights, you are getting intense UV exposure to the tops of your hands,” Ingraham said.

She said that one exposure to UV lights during a manicure won’t cause skin cancer, but repeat manicures over years dramatically increase your risk.

Here are more dermatologists’ tips for keeping your nails healthy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Keep nails clean and dry.
  • Cut nails straight across. Use sharp nail scissors or clippers. Round the nails slightly at the tips for maximum strength.
  • Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.
  • Do not bite fingernails or remove the cuticle. Doing so can damage the nail.
  • Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening pop cans.
  • Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
  • When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see a dermatologist for treatment.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day.
  • Wear flip-flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.