Whether out of concern for your fingernails' health or just out of habit, you've probably used a nail file at some point. Filing your nails is a good way to manage any chips and jagged edges that result from broken nails and the demands you put on your hands daily. But aside from fixing occasional damage, filing your nails on a regular basis is also good practice for general upkeep.
How often filing is needed to keep nails at a manageable length will vary depending on the person. The average person's fingernails grow about 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2 to 3 millimeters) in a month, so trimming and filing about once a week should suffice for most people [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. However, if you find your fingernails grow faster or slower, you can adjust the length of time between filings accordingly. Interestingly enough, how much and how often you file your nails might also vary over the course of your lifetime. Nails typically grow faster during the summer months and during a woman's pregnancy [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. As you age, your nails grow at an increasingly slower pace [source: WebMD]. As a result, you might have to adjust your manicuring habits from time to time.
When it comes to your toenails, you can relax on the amount of filing. Toenails usually grow slower than fingernails, at about 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) per month [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Also, compared with fingernails, the toenails are less likely to get caught on things. As a result, toenails don't need to be trimmed and filed as often as fingernails.
Above all, when filing your nails, make sure you're using an emery board to smooth edges, not saw off excess nail growth [source: Mayo Clinic]. Regular nail maintenance involves several separate steps, including cleaning, trimming and filing for smoothness. To find out more about filing your nails into top shape, visit the links on the next page.