Nailed It

Published on 6th May 2021


If you?re thinking about a career in complementary therapies, spare a thought for your fingernails. Like it or not, they are one of the first things about you that your clients will notice and remember. Are they clean? Are they cared for? Are they healthy?

First impressions count

If a client is greeted by dirty, split and chewed fingernails, they will not feel comfortable in your hands. It seems a shame to extend a warm welcome, only for your nails to let you down.

Careful cleanliness

Complementary therapies that require touch, such as Massage Therapy, necessitate short nails. They must be clean and varnish free. Using a medium-stiff nail brush, scrub the underside of your nails with soap and water every time you wash your hands. Trim nails regularly with good quality nail clippers and give them a gentle file to smooth any rough edges.

The cuticles act as a sealing barrier to help prevent infections in the nail bed. Avoid cutting them as this may encourage the skin to split and hangnails to form. These are tiny torn sections of the skin surrounding the nail.

Kick the habit

  • Nail-biting or chewing is disastrous for nails. Not only do fingertips looked unsightly, but they become susceptible to infections and more serious conditions.
  • Finger picking and ripping or pulling off hangnails tears the healthy skin which is acting as a bacteria barrier. The result may be pain, swelling, even an infection.
  • Damaging cuticles - as mentioned above, leave cuticles alone. Avoid cutting or chewing them. Instead, use a gentle cuticle remover to clear away dead tissue, leaving nails tidy and healthy.
  • Sucking fingers - this causes the fingertips to be in a constant state of dry, wet, dry. The surrounding skin may become cracked and raw.
  • Tearing nails instead of cutting them with clippers leaves them jagged.
  • Nails are not mini tools! We?ve all done it, but avoid using your nails to scrape paint off tiles, peel off very sticky labels, open metal key rings, screw or unscrew fixtures, slice open a package ? they will only suffer.

Protection as principle

In order to keep nails in tip top condition, always use gloves when cleaning or washing up. Detergents and cleaning products can be harsh on nails. These may weaken, dry out and crack.

Rub a little Vitamin E treatment into nails regularly and apply a topical antibacterial cream if the surrounding skin is broken and inflamed.

Knowledge at your fingertips

If you?re keen to find out more about fingernails, associated pathologies and treatments, visit The British Association of Dermatologists

To find out whether a career in complementary therapies is for you, why not book a free trial on our Anatomy and Physiology online course?

This will give you an introduction to our Level 3 ITEC Diploma e-course in Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology

Fingernails at the ready!


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