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Nail Files Can Cause Fungal Infections

Nail Files Aren't Always as Safe as They Seem

We're excited to continue our partnership with YouTube star and beauty guru Michelle Phan! Every other week, we'll be bringing you the best from her website, This week, Michelle reveals why your nail file's not as clean as you think:

Hi everyone,

The condition of your nail file is probably something you don’t think of too often…but it should be.

According to cosmetics research, “nail problems compose about 10 percent of the conditions dermatologists treat,” and “fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders.”¹ That's a lot of issues caused by germy nails, and that's only on the dermatological side of things!

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A lot of nail and dermatological problems can be easily avoided through fungal and bacterial prevention with our hands, but washing them after a trip to the restroom isn't enough; ensuring nail tool sanitation could save you a lot of trips to the doc down the road. To see how you can stop the fungus among us, just keep reading.

A good place to start is with the tools that you use the most. Yep, your trusty old nail file could be the culprit. Think about it – how often (if ever) do you clean that thing? Unclean nail files are practically germ hotels. The act of filing abrades the surface of our nails, so with each use, the filer is coming into contact with both exposed nail and fresh(ish) nail. If bacteria have accumulated on your file, you are contaminating new layers of your nails with each use. Even grosser, sharing a nail file means [potentially] unknowingly spreading those fungal infections from user to user.

Now, you wouldn't scrub your body with a filthy loofah, so you shouldn't scrub your nails with a a filthy file! The good news is that keeping a clean nail file is super easy. It all depends on the type that you use. If you prefer cardboard nail files, then, sorry, but you’re going to have to stock up; cardboard emery board files are meant to be disposable. They cannot be cleaned with soap and water like other files, and therefore should be tossed after every use (or at least every 2 uses).

If you have a crystal, metal, or acrylic file, you’re in luck. These files not only have a longer life, but they can also be cleaned easily with hot, soapy water. Here’s how:

  • Fill a bowl (or whatever you’d like to use as a cleaning vessel) with hot water and antibacterial soap. Put the file in the mixture.
  • Apply antibacterial soap to the file and scrub it clean with a toothbrush. (I shouldn’t even need to say this, but please don’t use the one you use on your teeth.)
  • Rinse and let dry completely before storing or using again!
  • I hope this tip helps. Keep it in mind next time you tend to your digits!

    What are your favorite nail files? Do you already do something like this? Tell me in the comments section below!

    More stories from Michelle Phan:

  • Welcome to Beauty School!
  • Jojoba: It's a Wonder Oil
  • Nail Clippers That Are Works of Art
  • How Would You Use Glow-in-the-Dark Makeup?
Image Source: Thinkstock
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