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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Caregiving: Fingernail Care
Nail care is important for health and appearance. Your loved one can accidentally scratch themself (or you) if their fingernails are too long. Nails that are dirty or too long—especially in a person who usually cared for their own nails—also can be a sign that a loved one needs more help with personal care.
Try to take the person for manicures if that is what your loved one wants. It's a chance to get out and see people and continue a favorite activity.
You can do basic nail care at home. Usually all you need to do is keep the nails clean and at a safe length.
Try to trim the person's nails every week. Or check them each week to see if they need to be trimmed. It's easiest to trim nails after the person has had a shower or has washed his or her hands. It makes the nails softer and easier to trim.
Start by gathering your supplies. You will need fingernail clippers and a nail file. You may also need nail polish and nail polish remover.
To trim the nails:
If you're helping someone wash their hands, wash the underside of the nails with soap and water. This is easiest with a nail brush. Remember that nails tend to get harder with age, and the skin on the hands can become thin and dry. So offer the person hand lotion after washing his or her hands.
When you're caring for someone's nails, it is important to remember not to trim or cut the cuticles. A minor cut in a cuticle could lead to an infection.
When you're washing someone's hands or trimming their nails, look for any signs of infection from a cut or other injury. Signs may include pain, swelling, redness, or warmth. This is especially important if the person has diabetes. Call the person's doctor if the cut doesn't heal with home treatment, such as antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
Current as of:
October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineGayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse
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