How often should I cut my nails?

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Personal Hygiene ­Image Gallery How often you cut your nails may depend partially on what daily tasks you use your hands for. See more personal hygiene pictures.
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Taking proper care of your body includes attending to the small, easy-to-forget areas, such as fingernails and toenails. After all, these small parts play an important role in protecting your sensitive fingertips and toes from injuries. So keeping them properly trimmed is one of the best ways to avoid major nail problems, such as jagged edges or hangnails, which can keep them from doing their protective duties.

But how often do your nails need to be cut? The answer depends on what kind of tasks you use your hands for. For example, if you play the violin or work on car engines a lot, you might want shorter nails, and you'll have to clip them more often to maintain the shorter length. But if you work in a beauty- or cosmetic-related industry, you might prefer having longer nails and cut them less often to attain your desired length.


Another factor to consider is that different nails tend to grow at different rates. Fingernails grow faster than toenails, and the nails on your middle and ring fingers grow faster than the others. Nails on your dominant hand might also grow faster than those on your other hand. On average, fingernails grow about 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) a day. But you might find that you need to cut some nails more often than others [source: New York Times].

In any case, what is most important is that you cut your nails regularly, and make sure you don't leave jagged edges behind to catch on clothing, causing the nail to tear. It might be helpful to set aside a time once a week to trim your nails, so that regular maintenance becomes a habit. Trim your nails with a proper nail clipper, clean underneath the tips and then file down any rough spots with an emery board.

If you have weak or brittle nails, you will want to keep nails fairly short to reduce the risk of having them break or split. To avoid splitting them, you can also try clipping them just after a bath or shower or after soaking them in water [source: Mayo Clinic].

For more information on nail health, visit the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Mayo Clinic. "Nails: How to keep your fingernails healthy and strong." Nov. 30, 2007. (Accessed Oct. 9, 2009)
  • New York Times. "How fast do fingernails grow?" Science Q & A. Aug. 2, 1988. (Accessed Oct. 9, 2009)