Healthcare experts at IHW Council’s Web Summit outline the need for Hand & Nail Hygiene to control COVID-19 infection

Mr Kamal & Mr. Pandya

New Delhi, August 20, 2020: As healthcare industry across the globe is leaving no stone unturned to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic, leading health specialists at the IHW Council’s web summit in association with KAI India today highlighted the need of maintaining the basic hygiene and self-protection measures in order to protect the people from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19 that has already claimed millions of lives.

Titled as “Hand & Nail Hygiene: Care During COVID-19”, the virtual session was attended by Mr Rajesh Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India; Dr. (MAJ) Manish Mannan, HOD, Pediatrics& Neonatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon; Dr. Shilpa Ghosh, Director, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynecologist, Akash Super Speciality Hospital, Dr Bela Sharma, Additional Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram and Dr Indu Ballana, MBBS, MD – Dermatology, Ballani Skin Aesthetics Center.

“Negligence towards nail hygiene can causes a series of complications such as bacterial and viral infections. Often these complications result in serious health issues. Even if you wash your hands regularly but fail to clean the underside of your nails, your hand hygiene is hardly perfect. Practicing good nail hygiene involves following a systematic process to ensure longevity of your nail health structure. Appropriate hand hygiene includes diligently cleaning and trimming fingernails, which may harbor dirt and germs and can contribute to the spread of some infections, such as pinworms. It includes ensuring that food particles are not sticking to your nail for a long duration and there is no buildup of bacteria. It is important that you cut &wash your nails, thoroughly sanitizing under and around them, and keeping them away from your mouth (i.e. no nail-biting). Moreover we never share our toothbrush or towel with our family members, similarly we should never share our nail clipper with anyone which is a cause of transfer of germs in our nails “said Mr Rajesh U. Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India.

Dr. (MAJ) Manish Mannan, HOD, Pediatrics& Neonatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, pointed out that kids bite their nails can be attributed to many factors including curiosity, stress, boredom and genetic. “Sometimes the nail-biting gets so severe that it ends up in swelling, pain and changes in the nail. It can also cause ingrown nail or several infections and if not monitored can lead to a skin infection called as Paronychia, which is an acute and a chronic infection. It causes lot of irritation and pain in the nails. Taking care of the children’s nail is an utmost important thing to do because they often put their fingers in their mouth. And, it’s a big no when you have already going through a life-threatening pandemic,” said Dr Mannan.

Dr. Shilpa Ghosh, Director, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynecologist, Akash Hospital said a mother’s nail and hand hygiene post-pregnancy plays a pivotal role in the care of the newborn. She urged mothers to keep their nails trimmed and avoid putting any sort of chemicals like nail paints, remover for a certain period of time.

“Nails also go through immense change when a woman is pregnant because of the hormonal transitions in the body. It is very important to take care of your hands and nails as well because they are the first point of contact between your baby and you. Extra hormones in the body can make your nail grow faster and stronger or can weaken them and spit them. Maintain good and proper hygiene is must. One should cut her nails regularly, clean them and keep them moisturized. Avoid sharing your nail clipper with anyone. And, prevent your nails from turning dry or yellow,” she added.

Often overlooked, this aspect of hygiene is crucial in maintaining a healthy and disease-free body. Since childhood we have been taught to take care of our nails and keep them clean, but we hardly pay attention to these habits. In India, a major part of our day to day activities including eating, washing clothes, utensils and even mopping the floor are done with bare hands.

Dr Bela Sharma, Additional Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram highlighted the need for maintaining nail hygiene in the elderly community.

“Each pandemic has been a learning lesson for us be it cholera or influenza. Similarly, coronavirus pandemic has also been teaching us so many things regarding hand and nail hygiene. Elderly patients should be extra careful in maintaining the nail hygiene because of their immune-compromised state. Healthy hands and nails is the springboard of healthy life. To keep your fingernails looking their best: Keep fingernails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails,” Dr Sharma added.

Dr Indu Ballana, MBBS, MD – Dermatology, Ballani Skin Aesthetics Center said nail abnormalities like discoloration, changes in nail shape, swelling can cause health problems and diseases.“These changes in nails can lead to diseases and health problems like liver disease, diabetes, infections, etc. The nail abnormalities indicate lack of nutrients, vitamins and lack of care for nails and health which further led to diseases. So, it is very important to see a dermatologists in such cases to prevent you from any other health problems,” added Dr Ballana.

Mr Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council, said, “While we are diligently washing our hands and using sanitizers every now and then, we often ignore greater harbors for disease-causing bacteria and viruses on our finger tips that are Our nails and spaces underneath them. Researchers have found that our one single nail host more bacteria than the entire hand but what is more worrisome is that most of the time these shiny cappings that add to the beauty of our fingers also enjoy most leniency when it comes to maintaining their hygiene.”