Doing Your Nails Potentially Unhealthy, According to Science

As much fun as your nail care ritual may be, it turns out that your daily filing habit actually may not be that great for the well-being of your claws. As a recent study suggests, trimming, filing, and other rituals involved in regularly doing your nails may have unhealthy side-effects. In other words, you may want to develop another way to look stylishly bored.

With the amount of energy that people devote to nail upkeep, a group of physicists set out to investigate the health cost of keeping up with fashion. Physical Biology recently published the findings of their study, which suggests that regularly trimming your nails may encourage dysfunctional nail growth. Cyrial Rauch, the primary author of the study, told the magazine:

Looking at our results, we suggest that nail beauty fanatics who trim their nails on a daily basis opt for straight or parabolic edges, as otherwise they may amplify the imbalance of stresses which could lead to a number of serious conditions.

These serious conditions could be anything from ingrown nails, to spoon-shaped nails, to pincer nails. While their experiments within this study focused on ingrown toe-nails, Rauch and company inferred that these stresses occur similarly in your fingers and toes. In their findings, the scientists isolated a basic algorithm for nail stress:

If a nail grows too quickly or slowly, or the number of adhesive structures changes – a residual stress across the entire nail can occur, causing it to change shape over time.

That residual stress is reportedly amplified by "poor trimming habits," which essentially fights the natural growth of your body's cells. If you engage in these habits daily, then the damage is all the more severe. Unfortunately, "poor nail trimming" isn't clearly defined in the Physical Biology article, but the study calls out "nail beauty fanatics" indicating that they are the main offenders. Then again, I feel like those who are most guilty would logically be lax individuals like myself who bite their nails.

Luckily, we live in the age of the YouTube tutorial and the life-hack article, so anyone can easily learn how to properly tend to their manicure or pedicure. Even if you think you know how to cut your nails, sometimes people need to refresh themselves on the tenets of basic processes. Hooray for proper hygiene and common sense!