Nail care

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 03.09.2023

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Fragile nails; Nail dryness

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The general and special care of fingernails and toenails plays an increasing role for various disease states, but also for the natural evolution of age. In this respect, general and special rules of conduct and therapeutic measures are recommended.

General definition
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General measures

  • Shorten nails
    • Avoid cutting the nails, only in exceptional cases, e.g. if a nail is torn, it should be cut. It is better to file or mill: sand blade files to protect brittle nails. Diamond files can also be used for strong nails.
  • Cuticle care
    • The cuticle should not be cut (cutting the cuticle provokes injuries and inflammations; it also promotes regrowth, furthermore the cuticle is hardened); it would be possible, if shortening is necessary, to push back the cuticle carefully with a manicure tool (a wooden stick is also suitable) or a soft towel. Better still: soak the cuticle with cuticle remover or finger bath, this will make it easier to push back the cuticle.
  • Hand washing
    • Cleaning the hands with soap or a syndet only in case of heavy soiling. For "normal dirt" it is better to use hydrophilic oil-containing lotion (e.g. ash base lotion). This cleans and cares at the same time.
  • Nutrition
    • balanced diet, because wholesome food is reflected in healthy nails.
  • Wet work
    • Frequent work in a humid or chemically aggressive environment leads to repetitive damage to the nail organ. They are to be prevented by appropriate protective measures (e.g. by wearing suitable glove material.
  • Vitamins and trace elements
    • Control of vitamin H and zinc levels and subsitution in case of deficiency.
  • Protective measures
    • In winter, wearing lined gloves is recommended. Cold dries out skin, hair and nails! Protective gloves when using cleaning agents and detergents. These liquids often contain substances that can damage nails.
  • Nail polish remover
    • Only acetone-free, preferably oil-based nail polish remover should be used to prevent the nails from drying out.

Special measures

  • Finger bath (nail bath)
    • Bath the nails for about 3 to 5 minutes in a vegetable oil, e.g. olive oil or almond oil. Heat vegetable oils in the microwave to about 40 degrees. For brittle nails, lemon peel oil helps as a bath additive.
    • Alternative: Jojoba oil bath - heating 50 ml jojoba oil in a water bath to about 40 degrees, adding 4 drops each of sandalwood oil, cypress oil and lavender oil. Bath the fingertips for about 10 minutes in this nourishing oil bath.
  • Care of the nail plate
    • Nail care cosmetics (see below nail varnishes, medical) e.g. on the basis of a 10% urea solution have proved to be excellent. They serve to hydrate the nail plate (see also under nail). Remark: During the years of life the structure of the nail plate changes with the consequence of a decreasing water binding capacity and an increase of the brittleness of the nail substance (e.g. Visurea Nail Polish®).
    • alternative: rub fingernails several times a week with the following oil mixture. 25 ml castor oil, 25 g vaseline, 25 ml avocado oil, 50 ml jojoba oil and a drop of bitter almond oil are heated to 50 degrees in a water bath and mixed well. The mixture can be stored in a jar for several weeks.
    • Alternatively: Rub nail plate with a mixture of avocado - and tea tree oil (50 ml avocado oil and 30 trpf. tea tree oil) and let it act for about 5 min. The oil mixture can be stored in a dark bottle (tea tree oil is sensitive to light).

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Sililevo Nail Polish®, Allpresan Nail Care Oil®, Gehwol Nail Oil®.

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  1. Krüger N et al (2006) Effect of urea nail lacquer on nail quality. Clinical evaluation and biophysical measurements. dermatologist 57:1089-1094

Incoming links (2)

Nail polish, medical; Onychorrhexis;


Last updated on: 03.09.2023