The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how the world functions. Governments had non-essential establishments closed and introduced curfew hours to control the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization also imposed that we observe "physical distancing" whenever we're out. Citizens around the globe are forced to stay at home if they can.

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Hand-washing has become the protocol, too. Doctors also advise that washing with soap and water is the best way to cleanse the disease-causing germs out of our bodies. But besides hand-washing, we may be missing one essential factor in our personal hygiene: Keeping our fingernails short. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's rules for nail hygiene includes trimming long nails and ditching artificial nail extensions. Originally recommended for health care professionals, their guidelines are now applicable to everyone. According to the CDC, "Germs can live under artificial fingernails both before and after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and handwashing." 

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The free edge (the nails that grow beyond your fingertips) can be a breeding ground of bacteria and germs. CDC recommends that the free edge should be less than 1/4 inch long. They also warn that wearing rings can make anyone at risk of catching disease-causing germs. "Some studies have shown that skin underneath rings contains more germs than comparable areas of skin on fingers without rings," the CDC website says.

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WebMD Medical Editor Dr. Neha Pathak told Insider that germs and bacteria may hide in chipped nail polish, too. "Chipping nail polish also allows viruses to hide in cracks and crevices, so paying particular attention to those areas and removing nail polish if it's chipping is important," Pathak explained. Simply put, you must take off last month's nail job. If it's a gel mani, read here for a complete step-by-step guide on how to remove it at home without ruining your digits.

Long story short: Wash your hands, keep your nails short, remove chipped nail polish, and take off jewelry. 

For more stories on COVID-19, please click here.

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