Nail Health Tips for You and Your Child



When I was a kid I didn’t enjoy having my nails trimmed. I always worried that my mom was going to cut them too short or that it would hurt. Nail trimming and care can be a big source of stress for parents too. It is important to care for your child’s nails because nails themselves are important for protecting our sensitive finger tips, relieving an itch and picking up objects. Neglecting your child’s nails can easily lead to injury or infection. In this RN Remedies® blog post, I shed light on some of the mystery and anxiety of nail care for your child.

Cleaning nails

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to accumulate dirt and other junk under your nails? Bacteria can easily live under long nails, so it’s especially important to keep your child’s nails relatively short. Washing hands with soap and water is usually not enough to keep the underside of the nail clean. Use a soft nailbrush or new toothbrush to help clean out the gunk that accumulates under your child’s nail tips. This is especially important if your child bites or chews his or her nails.

Trimming nails is easier than you thinkNail Health Tips for You and Your Child

I have been asked multiple times by friends or family members to cut their newborn infant’s nails.  New parents are often worried about cutting their baby’s nails for fear of cutting tiny fingertips. For some reason, being a nurse makes me seem more qualified for infant nail trimming, but the truth is it is much easier than you think. Keeping babies’ nails short is important, to prevent them from scratching their face or eyes. When trimming your baby’s nails, make sure to purchase infant-sized clippers or scissors. If your baby’s hands won’t stop moving, then enlist the help of a buddy to keep the hands still. Gently filing an infant’s nails is another option too. When clipping or cutting, press down on the tip of the finger pad to prevent cutting the skin. If you accidentally nick the fingertip and cause some bleeding, apply gentle pressure to make the bleeding stop and then clean the skin gently with soap and water. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or the skin starts to look infected, make sure to call your child’s doctor.

Recommended trim style

Your child’s fingernails should be cut straight across or slightly rounded at the edges. Toenails should always be cut straight across. After taking a warm bath or shower, the nails become softened, which makes trimming much easier. Smooth any jagged or sharp edges with a nail file after cutting with clippers or scissors.

Ingrown nails

An ingrown nail is when the side of the nail starts to grow into the skin. Ingrown nails can be very painful, or worse, lead to a serious infection. If your child complains of pain at the edge of their nail at the skin, if there is any redness, puffiness or pus, then it is important to have this evaluated by your child’s doctor. Sometimes infections can be severe enough to require antibiotics.

Overcome anxiety about trimming your child’s nails

Trying to trim a squirmy toddler or infant’s nails can be challenging. If this task proves difficult or is a source of stress for your child, trim while he or she is asleep. You don’t have to get all 20 nails trimmed at the same time either. It’s okay to trim a few nails at a time, but make sure to use clean clippers or scissors, which should be washed in between uses with alcohol or soap and water and then dried carefully, to prevent infection. Do not share nail clippers with other members of the same household.

Care for your cutie’s cuticles

In caring for children’s nails, don’t forget their cuticles. Cuticles are the small little ribbons of skin at the base of the nail. They serve as an extra protective layer to prevent germs from entering into the nail bed. Children may like to pick at or bite their cuticles, and this can cause an infection. Cuticles can also get dried out or cracked, which can lead to cuts and allow bacteria to enter under the skin. Therefore, it’s important to keep cuticles moisturized and healthy by massaging a thick hypoallergenic or fragrance-free hand cream into the nail and cuticle each day or a couple times per week.

Nail hygiene in salons

A day of pampering with your child is fun and creates memories! When you choose a nail salon, make sure it follows the proper guidelines. Here is a link to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Nail tools need to be properly cleaned between clients. Always ask the salon how the tools are cleaned to make sure that they are following proper protocol according to state guidelines. Other seemingly “reusable” items such as nail files, buffers and brushes should never used by additional clients. Each client should be serviced with his or her own nail file, buffer and brush, which should be disposed of after each use. Just because nail tools come out of a new packet doesn’t mean that they have been cleansed properly between uses.

When getting a manicure or pedicure, don’t forget to:

  • Ask the nail technician if they washed their hands before tending to you or your child’s nails.
  • Ask the salon staff how they clean their pedicure footbaths. The footbaths can harbor bacteria and fungus.
  • Bring your own nail tools and make sure to clean them after each use with alcohol.
  • Bring your own nail polish. Nail polish bottles are used on many people throughout the day and you never known if the person who came before you had any open sores, cuts or bleeding while the bottle was being used.
  • Avoid having cuticles cut to avoid infection and request that nails be cut straight across to prevent ingrown nails.

Consider painting nails in the comfort of your home—it’s fun. Watch a goofy movie with your child and make it a home “spa day!”

I don’t know many women who don’t like getting their nails done and having clean nails. Use this blog post as a guide to maintain nail health for you and your family. Actually, I just realized that my cuticles are looking dry and they need some moisturizer. Thanks for reading … time to moisturize!