Washing your hands often is a key element to staying germ-free, but none of that matters if you're not also making sure you're sanitizing your nails. Your nails can also harbor bacteria and, if you're a nail-biter and/or frequently eat with your fingers (pizza, anyone?), those bacteria can easily be transferred to your mouth.
According to Purvi Parikh, an allergy and infectious disease specialist with New York University's Langone Medical Center, germs transferring from the hands to the mouth are "the easiest way you can contract any infection." It sounds alarming, but there are a few very simple ways to keep your nails clean and germ-free.
Read ahead for a few tips.
Tip #1: Wash Under Your Nails
The easiest thing you can do is to make sure that, while you spend more time washing your hands, you're also getting rid of the germs that may be hanging out under your nails. Soap and water will take care of this, but Sundays founder Amy Lin also recommends soaking your hands in soapy water with lemon slices to cleanse the nails, since lemons are a natural disinfectant.
Tip #2: Paint Your Nails
It sounds simple, but it's true: If you have a fresh manicure, you're less likely to want to bite your nails and transfer bacteria to your mouth, so keeping them painted could be helpful. There are products available that help to reduce the habit, like polishes with bitter tastes.
Tip #3: Keep Your Nails in Good Condition
Along with painting your nails, you can also try continuing your nail maintenance at home by keeping your nails short so bacteria can't accumulate underneath. Taking care of your cuticles with products like Sundays Cuticle Serum 01 Antibacterial CS. 01 ($20) can also help. It's made with Myrhh oil, which "is a natural disinfectant and can help cure inflammation," Lin told POPSUGAR. "You can also mix it with lotion for your whole hand." According to Lin, you can also use the oil to cure the inflammation on your cuticles if you're a nail biter.