Do you like long nails? Once you find out what's underneath you won't want them anymore

Long nails are certainly not as hygienic as you might think, but they are a perfect hiding place for pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, that get trapped under there ...

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Long, very long, sometimes even bulky. And very multicolored. For a few years now it has been depopulated, from teenagers to older women, a real mania for mileage nails. More or less fake, more or less true. But how hygienic are they?

Very little, considering that already normally - as much as you can clean and brush them - nails harbor a lot of bacteria. Under the long nails, in short, there are microorganisms lurking that can cause potential infections.

The longer the nail, the greater the surface area for microorganisms to adhere to, says Jeffrey Kaplan, a professor of biology at American University, who has conducted a series of analyzes on the matter.

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A systematic review

Whether it's artificial nails, natural long nails, gel nails, acrylic nails or just nail polish (even difficult to wash), the longer they are, the more likely it is that microorganisms are hiding under them.

Analyzes conducted by Jeffrey Kaplan's team found 32 different bacteria and 28 different fungi under the nails. Notably, a very resistant bacterium, known as methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, an antibiotic, emerged in half of the nail samples. Which could later lead to an infection.

You can transmit nail bacteria to your immune system by scratching, biting your nails, picking your nose, and sucking your fingers, Kaplan clarifies.

Bacteria and fungus under long nails can also lead to a nail infection, which could leave the nails disfigured.

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In fact, a research carried out in 98 at Pennsylvania University already highlighted how the nails were home to hundreds of bacteria, the same ones that, in greater quantities, are found on the fingertips and palms of the hands. This is due to the fact that the subungual space, that is the one between the skin and the inner part of the nail, would be the ideal environment for the proliferation of bacteria: the keratin shell protects them from the external environment, washing included, while the body heat causes them to proliferate.

Finally, the amount of bacteria is even greater under the artificial nails. Result? It would be better to keep the nails short, which also allows better washing of the hands themselves.

How to clean long nails

If for short nails it is generally enough to rub the areas around the nail with a special toothbrush (but also an old toothbrush that you no longer use is fine), for long ones it is better to resort to a small brush that you will dip in a little soap and water and pass several times in the part under the nail and in the cuticle area.

Better still if you take a little more time and dip your fingers in a bowl of warm water with a pinch of lemon for at least 3 minutes. Let your fingers and nails soften and then scrub gently with a toothbrush.

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