How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails

Not cutting your nails often enough can lead to various health issues.

Cut Your Nails
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By Kali Coleman, Best Life

There are some hygiene tasks that are second nature, like showering consistently and brushing your teeth every day. Then there are the hygiene tasks, like cutting your nails, that can easily be forgotten. But should you be putting off trimming your nails? According to experts, not really: They say you should actually be cutting your nails every week.

There is a lot that can be left up to personal preference when it comes to cutting one's nails, but if you want to ensure you don't get stuck in a unhealthy situation, board-certified podiatrist Nelya Lobkova, DPM, and licensed physician Leann Poston, MD, recommend cutting your fingernails every week. On the other hand, Esteban Kosak, MD, a medical doctor and researcher with Symptoms Care, says you go could go as far as waiting every few weeks to cut them—but waiting comes with heightened health risks.

"When you don't cut your nails often, they can easily get damaged and break, and are more likely to harbor dirt and bacteria that can potentially spread infection," Kosak explains.

According to Lobkova, fingernails grow an average of 4 millimeters per month, and Poston says that your "dominant hand's nails will grow faster than your non-dominant hand." However, your toenails actually grow at a slower pace—about 2 millimeters per month, according Lobkova. Toenails, therefore, can be trimmed less often, but still need maintenance every few weeks.

"You are more prone to skin infections such as cellulitis and fungal skin infections if the toenails are not trimmed regularly," says Bruce Pinker, DPM, a foot specialist and owner of Progressive Foot Care. "Also, if you don't cut your toenails often enough, it can be difficult to walk, as the toenails will grow around the toe, leading to pain and discomfort."

But it's not just how often you trim your nails—it's also how you're doing it. Poston says you should use your personal nail clippers and "cut your nails so they are even with the ends of your fingers or toes." Avoid rounding off the edges of your nails when cutting because you're "more likely to get ingrown toenails as the edge of the nail pushes into the skin."

As it turns out, cutting your nails regularly may not only help you steer clear from skin or nail health problems. Lobkova says the "nails on our fingers and toes could demonstrate a pattern that is a sign of disease or other abnormalities in the joints, bones, skin, and major organs." So regularly checking your nails and seeing if there are any changes or difficulty in cutting them can help determine if there may be any underlying health concerns at play. Keep reading to learn some of the health problems your nails can detect.


Heart Problems

How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
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Blue nails are a serious sign that something could be up with your health. According to Heathline, "blue fingernails are caused by a low level or lack of oxygen circulating in your red blood cells." This means you could be experiencing a number of heart problems, including congenital heart disease, Eisenmenger's syndrome, or congestive heart failure.


Lung Disease

How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
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A pivotal 2004 study published in American Family Physician found a connection between your nails and your lungs. Researchers concluded that clubbing of the nails—which is where the tips of your fingers enlarge and your nails curve downward toward them—could mean you have pulmonary disease.


Thyroid Problems

How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
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Dry, brittle nails aren't just a cosmetic concern. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "thick, dry, and brittle [nails] with visible ridges" can actually be a sign of thyroid disease.


Skin Cancer

How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
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Did you know that you can actually get melanoma under your nails? The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology says this specific type of skin cancer often shows up as "brown or black discoloration found within the nail." It also typically only affects one nail, "particularly of the thumb, big toe, or index finger."
How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
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Health Magazine: How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
How Often You Should Be Cutting Your Nails
You might put off cutting your nails from time to time, but could that cause health problems? Here's what the experts have to say.
Health Magazine
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