nail care and nursing

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    I am a student still, and I'm embarassed to say I'm a nail-biter. I have tried to stop and I never have been able to. I wash my hands a lot and that helps I guess. The only thing that helped me to stop for awhile was getting sculptured nails. When I was working an office job I got very short white-tipped nails and of course they were so hard I could not bite them so I stopped trying. A year later I became a stay at home mom and did not have the budget for nails. I started biting again! :angryfire I was talking to a fellow student who has sculptured nails right now and told her I was looking forward to getting those again when I was working as a nurse, because I didn't want to bite them anymore. SHe said that sculptured nails are not allowed as a nurse because they are not sanitary.

    So I guess my first question is, is that true, that they are not allowed? Even very short ones?

    Secondly, what do you nail-biting nurses do? Obviously it's not a good idea for you or for patients to bite your nails.
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    From what I understand acrylic nails aren't allowed because they can be a breeding ground for bacteria. You're prone to fungal infections under the acrylic and stuff like that. I'm no expert, by any means. That's just what I've heard.

    I'm like you.. totally a biter! lol... I have no idea what i'm going to do, really. Keep them cut as short as possible, I suppose.

    good luck!
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    I bit my nails for most of my childhood. At fifteen I got braces on my teeth. I realize now that I have an addictive personality. I was so frustrated that my nails had to get so long before I could get to them with my teeth. I gave up nail biting out of frustration. I was so defeated. I have never bitten them again. Nail biting is just as unsanitary as sculptured nails. I figure you can wear them if it is not in the uniform code or policy book of the facility you choose, but I think it will be frowned on. I have worked with nurses who have naturally long nails and it is even considered unsanitary. One was a supervisor and I patient in labor complained of her nails hurting her when she was doing a vaginal exam so I had to do them ( she also could break amniotic sacs with them). Another was a lab tech and her claws (nails) where at least 2 inches longs literally curved down like an animal. She had to type orders with the side of her nail and to watch her do anything was awkward and distracting. When I was those claws I wondered how she even buttoned a shirt.
    I wish I could help you more. Braces are expensive if you don't need them..lol ...JK
  7. 0
    found this searching google:

    Sometimes a gap develops between the acrylic nail and the natural nail for example, if the acrylic nail is bumped or jarred, it may separate from the natural nail. This gap provides a moist, warm environment in which bacteria and fungus can grow. If such an infection occurs, the natural nail may become thickened and discolored and should be evaluated by a dermatologist.

    It was in response to a question of whether acrylic nails are harmful to your natural nails.. but I'd assume the whole 'bacteria/fungus' reason applies to use in hospitals too, you know?
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    Most hospitals have specifically "outlawed" artificial nails (regardless of how short and natural they look) because of the infection control issues. I'm just reporting the situation, not looking to start another debate about artificial nails -- plenty of acrylic "devotees" argue that the research is not conclusive and the ban is not justified, but that doesn't change the fact that you can no longer wear them at most hospitals.

    I am an episodic nail-biter myself, and one thing I have found helpful at times when I'm having particular trouble stopping is to go to a salon and pay for a professional manicure (not artificial nails, just a "traditional" manicure (without polish)). Because they are so careful about smoothing and trimming all the rough edges and "loose ends," there is less justification for biting. Also, when I'm tempted to bite, I think about how much I paid for the manicure and whether or not I want to throw that money away by ruining the manicure. After a few weekly manicures (and my leaving them alone), my nails actually start to look nice and that serves as additional reinforcement -- it gets easier and easier to avoid biting.

    If you haven't tried that before, it may help. Good luck!
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    Regulations prohibit long and/or false nails due to infection control issues - they breed more germs. Even if you do not work in the OR, I don't know of ANY patient care employer that has not deferred to the regs when writing their policies regarding nails. Long and fake nails also can inadvertantly hurt a pt's skin. And elderly person with thin skin can get a large skin tear from just a "tiny" scratch of a nail.

    You are an adult going to nursing school - STOP biting your nails. If the idea that you might get some gross disease from sticking your fingers in your mouth is not enough to deter you then you will need to go one step farther. Go to the store. Find the yucky tasting nail polish that parents use to get their kids to stop biting their nails. I don't know what it is called but once you put in on, it tastes gross and helps to curb the urge.
    Hellllllo Nurse and JohnnysGirl like this.
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    Nail Bacteria Linked to Baby Deaths...03/24/00
    By Carol Cole - Associated Press Writer

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Bacteria found under the long fingernails of two nurses may have contributed to the deaths of 16 sickly babies in 1997 and 1998 in an Oklahoma City hospital, researchers say.

    The findings were reported in the February issue of the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology Journal. The study was done by the state Health Department, the hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    The CDC suggested improved hand-washing and requiring nurses to have short, natural fingernails, which are considered less likely to harbor germs.

    http://earthchangesmedia.com/biology...ilbacteria.htm
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    As a former nail-biter for years, I understand your pain! Luckily, I stopped biting my nails long ago..what finally made me stop was sophomore year of high school, we were ordering our Junior Class rings and I didn't want to have chewed, bloody nasty looking nails when I got the ring. I finally succeeded in stopping that time.

    You say you're still a student. Do you mean you are still taking pre-reqs for nursing school, are you in nursing school and haven't started clinicals or are you in school and in clinicals? I ask this because in our school (and in many that friends attend) we were told on day one, enjoy those acrylic, sculpted, artificial nails now, once we start clinicals you CAN NOT have them on at all..for any reason. We can only have natural nails, no longer than 1/4 inch over the skin, and polish can only be flesh tone, light light pink, or a french mani. I find the allowing of polish only in certain colors laughable. Its silly to say those colors are allowed..what, do those colors deter bacteria?? Do those colors not peel and chip off like the other colors? They allow those colors because you can't SEE it as much when the polish chips, peels off. But, it does, and it can end up on or in a patient just as easily as any other color.

    I know that all the places we've done clinicals at, the nurses do the exact opposite of what is insisted upon for us in clinicals..hair up and off the color, no heavy perfumes, and NO artifical nails. I can't tell you how many times I've noticed nurses on the floor with hair all over the place and the nails..oh my! I cannot believe that the nurses can do anything with them. (I have had my nails long, natural nails, and I get to a point where I have to trim them because they are too difficult to do everyday things with. Let alone trying to do treatments, suppositories etc. Not to mention, the potential of scratching the pt.

    I guess my best advice, and you know this already, is its best to stop biting. Not just for school but for YOU. Its very unsanitary. Think of all the things you could get on your hands..do you really want to put them in your mouth?

    Best of luck, I know, its difficult to stop, but you CAN do it!
  12. 0
    Quote from AmericanChai
    I am a student still, and I'm embarassed to say I'm a nail-biter. I have tried to stop and I never have been able to. I wash my hands a lot and that helps I guess. The only thing that helped me to stop for awhile was getting sculptured nails. When I was working an office job I got very short white-tipped nails and of course they were so hard I could not bite them so I stopped trying. A year later I became a stay at home mom and did not have the budget for nails. I started biting again! :angryfire I was talking to a fellow student who has sculptured nails right now and told her I was looking forward to getting those again when I was working as a nurse, because I didn't want to bite them anymore. SHe said that sculptured nails are not allowed as a nurse because they are not sanitary.

    So I guess my first question is, is that true, that they are not allowed? Even very short ones?

    Secondly, what do you nail-biting nurses do? Obviously it's not a good idea for you or for patients to bite your nails.
    I have the SAME problem. I have always suspected that people bite their nails b/c they have bad nails...that is why the sensation and urge to bite goes away after you get sculptured nails.

    My nails, and even my toes, are so paper thin, they rip. I am trying my best not to bite, but I am more aware of it when I know my hands are dirty and need to be washed.

    We are allowed to wear clear nail polish (but no French manicure...which is a polish and that makes NO SENSE)...so I found the thickest polish I could find and I put on 3 coats.

    It helps some, but my hands still look like a man's b/c I have virtually no nail beds (genetics) in addition to my fingers being short and stubby....very, very unattractive, and I hide my hands alot b/c I'm so embarrassed by them.

    If it was something I could have plastic surgery on and correct, I would...but this is something I have to live with and I am having a very, very difficult time with it. I'm even skipping a formal event that I was invited to on the 9th of November, b/c I can't have my nails, and therefore, I don't feel like I'll be fully dressed....so I'm not going...THAT is how much it bothers me.

    So I feel your pain.

    Take heart that not all hospitals have the policy, and I still believe that maintence has alot to do with it and personal grooming. The "nail thing" is controversial and that is why it hasn't been mandated for all hospitals by the state, it's just a recommendation, and some hospitals have the policy.

    PS: I am researching the possibility of a porcelain overlay, but there is limited research on this. It was the original artificial nail before acrylic b/c a better option, but now it's used for people who are allergic to acrylic, so it contains NO acrylic. My nail technician is trying to gather information from the state that licenses her on this. If I can just get my nails to the end of my skin and about 1/8" over...I'll be happy with that...but I have to have something to support my natural nail to keep it from ripping....which is EXTREMELY painful for me, and puts ME at risk for infection.
    Last edit by justme1972 on Oct 28, '07
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    Thanks for your replies. Unless you have had this problem, you don't understand how hard it is to quit. I wish they had a patch or some gum to help nail biters like they have for smokers!

    I suppose that the best thing will be to just think about how gross it is to bite when I start working with patients. Right now I'm a pre-req student. I have 2 more classes before I apply for nursing school. I'm already becoming a really good hand-washer because of the classes I'm taking. I was a hand-washer before, but now I'm really mindful of the spread of disease.
    justme1972 likes this.


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