Mani-Pedis Hurt Nail Health
Like many women out there, I love getting my nails done. The ritual of the mani-pedi is something I like to indulge in at least once a month. There is nothing better than getting to sit back and relax while you’re being pampered. You walk out of that nail salon feeling like a million bucks with shiny new nails. The choice of color is a rush onto itself; you can choose a bright color that reminds you of vacations past or a dark color that makes you feel like the professional you are. But have you ever thought about the effect of manicures and pedicures on your nails? I have noticed that my nails look great after leaving the nail salon, but I often wince at the practices some nail technicians use to shape your nails into the final product.
How often should you get your nails done?
My personal opinion is that you shouldn’t frequent the nail salon too often. Going to the nail salon can be harsh on your nails. I usually leave my nail polish on my hands for about a week (when the chips become too noticeable). I then leave my nails bare for about 2-3 weeks until my next visit to the nail salon. This way my cuticles and nail bed get a chance to return to their natural state. Constant filing and buffing can damage your nails.
I’ve had nail technicians who filed the tops of my nails not just the end. This is harmful to your nails. It makes them thin and brittle. Don’t let your nail technician ruin your nails for the future in order to have a perfect nail polish job this time. Have your nail technician cut your nails straight across with a slight rounding at the ends.
Dermatologists recommend that you never cut your cuticles. They don’t even want you to push them back if not necessary. Your cuticles provide natural barriers to infection. They stop bacteria from having easy access to the inside of your nails.
Risk of Infection
For those of you who are consistently getting acrylic nails, you should be extra aware of infection. When your artificial nails come loose from your natural nail plate they can harbor infection in the ensuing space. Signs of infection include: pain, redness, swelling, and pus. Having your nails filled in every 2-3 weeks if you are wearing acrylic nails will lower the risk of infection. If your nails are already brittle or unhealthy, you should not get artificial nails to cover it up. Gel manicures can also cause brittle nails. The gel manicure removal process is extremely harsh.
In addition to bacterial infections of the nail and surrounding skin, the most common nail malady is nail fungus. Nail fungus is present in 4% of the population. This number jumps to 50% among diabetics. Nail fungus can easily be transmitted in public showers, but it can also be transferred in nail salons.
The best way to avoid getting a nasty nail infection is to bring your own tools to the nail salon. I’ve seen some people do this in the past. I haven’t done it, but I am careful to note what kind of cleaning practices the salon uses. Make sure everything is being cleaned between clients.
Nail infections aside, skin infections can also result from visiting the nail salon. If you are getting a pedicure, don’t shave your legs the day before. Shaving causes microscopic cuts in your skin that let in bacteria and possibly infection.
Nails are a window into health.
Your nails can show signs of illnesses such as iron deficiency anemia, psoriasis, and cardiovascular disease. They can even be the site of melanoma. It’s important to monitor your nails for signs of disease or infection routinely. Keep your nails bare every once in a while so that you can check for any changes.
A last word of advice: moisturize your nails. Just like you moisturize your skin when it feels dry, your nails get thirsty for moisture too. You can use cuticle oil daily. Regular moisturizer or lotion can also be used on your nails. Nail polish remover dries out your nails. Always moisturize after removing nail polish and you’ll be reap the rewards of healthy, beautiful nails.
Do you like to visit the nail salon? How do you keep your nails healthy?
- Rosen, Theodore, et al. “Onychomycosis: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment in a changing landscape.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD3 (2015): 223-228.