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Fingernail and Hand Care CNA Skill

Some patients you deal with while working as a CNA may not be able to take care of their own hand and nail care. Thus, this task falls on the CNA to keep a patient’s hands and nails clean. This is an important skill to have as a CNA because nails can be a hotbed for dirt and germs, causing sickness and infection when not properly cleaned. Likewise, dirty hands can also cause unwanted sickness. Knowing how to provide effective care for a patient’s nails and hands is one of the CNA skills you may be tested on during your exam. 

To learn all the necessary steps for this skill, please watch this CNA hand care and fingernail care video for a complete demonstration. 

CNA Fingernail Care and Hand Care Steps for Skills Exam

The process for hand care during the CNA skills exam is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Place a barrier on the table in front of the seated patient.
  3. Grab a basin, soap, lotion, an orange stick, emery board, wash cloths and a towel.
  4. Fill the basin with water and let the patient test it to confirm it’s comfortable.
  5. Wet a wash cloth, submerge the patient’s hand to get it wet and then set their hand on the table. 
  6. Apply soap to the wet wash cloth and then wash the patient’s hand, top, and bottom, between the fingers and thumb, and then rinse it in the basin. 
  7. Set the patient’s hand back on the towel and fold the towel around it to dry their hand.
  8. Use the orange stick to clean under each nail, wiping it clean on the towel between each finger.
  9. Use the emery board to file any rough edges, working outward from the middle.
  10. Apply a small amount of lotion to your hands, working it between both, and then apply it to all surfaces of the patient’s hand.
  11. Once lotion is applied, wipe the patient’s hand clean with the towel.
  12. Empty and clean the basin, collect the soap and lotion and dispose of the barrier, and other supplies.
  13. Perform your standard completion tasks – wash your hands, ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give them their call light and close their privacy curtain.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for CNAs to perform fingernail and hand care are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.