5.15 Skills Checklist: Nail Care

NOTE: Nail care for clients with diabetes should be performed by a Registered Nurse (RN).

  1. Gather Supplies: Basin, warm water, soap, lotion, two washcloths, one towel, barrier, gloves, manicure stick, emery board, nail clipper, and linen bag or hamper
  2. Routine Pre-Procedure Steps:
    • Knock on the resident’s door.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Maintain respectful, courteous, and professional communication at all times.
    • Introduce yourself and identify the resident.
    • Provide for privacy.
    • Explain the procedure to the resident.
  3. Procedure Steps:
    • Put on gloves.
    • Fill the basin with warm water and place it on a flat surface with a barrier underneath. Have the resident check the water temperature by placing their hand in the basin or putting a wet washcloth on the back of their hand.
    • Have the resident perform hand hygiene with sanitizer.
    • Immerse the client’s hands in warm water for 5 to 20 minutes.
    • Place their hand on a barrier.
    • Using a manicure stick, clean underneath each nail, wiping any debris on the barrier after each nail.
    • If necessary, trim nails using a clipper. Sanitize the clipper prior to and after use.
    • Using an emery board, file each nail from the outside of the nail towards the middle of the nail.
    • Check each nail for snags and file until smooth.
    • Rinse the hand in water, return to the barrier, and dry.
    • Repeat the procedure for the second hand.
    • Offer lotion. If applying lotion, wear gloves.
    • Rub the lotion gently into the skin if requested.
    • Wipe off any excess lotion with a dry towel.
    • While wearing gloves, empty the equipment.
    • Rinse the equipment.
    • Dry the basin.
    • Return the equipment to storage.
    • Dispose of soiled linen in a designated laundry hamper.
    • Remove the gloves, turning them inside out.
  4. Post-Procedure Steps:
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Check for resident comfort and ask if anything else is needed.
    • Ensure the bed is low and locked. Check the brakes.
    • Place the call light or signaling device within reach of the resident.
    • Open the door and privacy curtain.
    • Perform hand hygiene
    • Document and report any skin or nail issues or changes noted with the resident.

View a YouTube video[1] of an instructor demonstrating nail care:


  1. Chippewa Valley Technical College. (2022, December 3). Nail Care. [Video]. YouTube. Video licensed under CC BY 4.0https://youtu.be/T32Csl2Rx0s


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Nursing Assistant Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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