For the last several seasons, fashionably long nails have been trending among celebrities including Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Gwen Stefani. Unfortunately, acrylic extensions and longer natural nails may harbor pathogens that could provide a “safe harbor” for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. With greater public health concerns for the COVID-19 virus, perhaps one method of reducing infection spread could be to shorten your finger nail length and perhaps avoid acrylic nails.
As far back as 1999, a study in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that 86% of a volunteer group of health care workers with artificial nails had bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or yeast present under the nail compared to only 25% of a control group without artificial nails. Published in October 2002, the CDC reported that health care workers with acrylic nails harbored more bacteria under their nails and on their fingertips both before and after handwashing than those who had natural nails.
By Dr. Jane Sadler • Concierge Medicine Physician