News: What Lives Under Your Fingernails? —BBC

[Image:, Getty Images]

This very recent BBC report asks, just how dirty are the areas underneath your fingernails?

Here are some of the conclusions it arrives at:

  • Hands are home to hundreds to thousands of bacteria, but the area underneath the fingernails (subungual areas) yielded hundreds of thousands of bacteria per fingertip.
  • “Persistent scrubbing doesn’t sterilise the hand” and the subungual areas “may be relatively inaccessible to antimicrobial agents during normal hand-washing procedures”.
  • Artificial nails can harbor more germs than natural ones, possibly because those who wear false nails tend to keep longer nails, and they may not be as thorough at washing their hands.
  • Nail polish on short, natural nails did not seem to affect the number of bacteria per fingertip, until the polish was over four days old (presumably cracks and chips in the polish allowed harboring of more bacteria).

The researchers concluded that “[k]eeping nails short and clean, therefore, is probably more important than whether or not nail polish is worn”. Good to keep in mind while washing your hands and—gulp—biting your nails!