CNA Skill: Providing nail care to a patient

You will sometimes need to provide care for your patients’ nails.  It is important to make sure you do not cut the nails down too far when working on a patient’s nails.  This is especially true if you have patients on anti-coagulation therapy.  They will have more trouble with bleeding if the skin is broken.

Patients who are diabetic should not have nail care.  The same is true for patients who have circulation problems in their feet.  A persons tissues do not repair well if people have poor circulation or diabetes.  You should not perform nail care on a patient unless you are instructed to do so or if it is listed in your job duties and description.

Nail care can be an important part of a patient’s care.  The spread of germs and bacteria is more frequent if a patient’s nails are not well cared for.  Nail care can be used to help remove dirt under the nails and other microorganisms.  When you care for a patient’s nails, you help to make sure they are smooth rather than jagged.  Jagged nails can lead to breaks in the skin which would increase the risk of infection.

When you are caring for a patient’s nails you will watch closely to make sure the patient does not have fungus under their nails.  You will also look for any unusual coloring of their nails.  Sometimes inflammation will also be noted.  The nurse should be notified if you notice any of these problems. 

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