The Truth About What Lives Under Your Nails

The Truth About What Lives Under Your Nails

Some of us might wonder what is under our own thumbnails, or any of our nails for that matter. For those of you who are curious about what might be lurking behind those mammalian claws, be warned, its not pretty.

Under Your Nails
It may not surprise you to know that your fingernails are breeding grounds for disease. After all, they are what we use to prepare food, change diapers, and adjust our underwear. Even if you can’t see it, there is no shortage of bacteria clinging to the underside of your nails, along with diseases like neuroviruses, rhinoviruses and candida albicans, a fungi known to cause yeast infection if it is spread to the genitals. While keeping nails short may cut down on the amount of living room for the bacteria, the tenants are just as despicable.

Artificial Nails
They may look lovely, but, if you sport acrylics regularly, you may want to think twice about touching the faces of your loved ones. Not only do the nails themselves catch a wealth of bacteria, the space between the original and applied nail is a bacteria sandwich. Dr. David Blackner, a podiatrist at Idaho Footcare, says, “Application of artificial fingernails can harbor a large number of pathogens. The acrylic in artificial nails can give rise to growth of gram-negative bacilli and yeast between the natural and artificial nail. This area is a perfect location for other pathogens to grow.”

You’re probably thinking that this is where things get really gnarly, but -surprise- toes aren’t exposed to nearly as much bacteria as your fingernails. However, they are still at risk for the fungi ochomycosis, a form of athlete’s foot which causes feet to become dry and cracked. According to Blackmer, “Ochomycosis may lead to the development of secondary bacterial infections, ingrown toenail and, in the rare case, loss of a limb.”

Keeping Clean
Dr. Philip Tierno, clinical professor at NYU Langone Medical Center says, “The fingers are the 10 dirtiest things on your body. ” So what can we do about it?

Since Tierno says “Eighty percent of all infections are transmitted through contact, direct or indirect,” then it would make sense that avoiding direct and indirect contact with another person is the first step toward clean nails. Direct contact is when you directly make contact with another person and includes kissing and coughing, and talking into the face of another person. This is usually easy to avoid. However, avoiding indirect contact can be harder. Indirect contact includes touching a contaminated object and them touching the object against a cut or scratch on your skin and happens often.

But even if you don’t manage to keep your hands restrained at all time, there may still be hope. Tierno advises, “When you wash your hands after handling food, use a brush with soap on it to get under your nails, especially if they’re longer than average. When you use an alcoholic gel sanitizer, scrape your fingernails on your palm, which is now covered in the gel.” Experts suggest scrubbing your hands for the length of time it takes to sing, “Happy Birthday” twice to steer clear of infection.

If you have now been horrified into religiously cleaning under your nails, please let us know, and if you have not, let us know that too, only don’t send us anything you may have come into direct contact with. Thanks!

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