Hair and Nail Care for Patients:

Patients are always encouraged to care for their own hair and nails, if they are able. However for cases where they are unable to care for themselves, providing optimal hair and nail care are essential to ensure a healthy recovery.


  1. 2 Towels

  2. Emery Nail file

  3. Orange Wood Stick (cuticle pusher)

  4. Lotion

  5. Emesis Basin

  6. Washcloth

  7. Comb


  1. Knock on the patient’s door, then enter.

  2. Greet patient by name and introduce yourself and what you’re doing.

  3. Provide for privacy by shutting the drapes.

  4. Wash hands and put on gloves.

  5. Check the patient’s ID (make sure it’s the right patient).

  6. Gather linens and supplies and place on the tray table covered with a towel.

  7. Ask the patient if it’s okay to raise the head of bed. Then raise to 60 degrees.

  8. Fill the emesis basin with 1 inch of water and check the temperature.

  9. Place a towel on the patient’s chest, and ask them how they would like their hair.

  10. Place the patient’s hands in the emesis basin to soak while you do their hair, make sure fingernails are in the basin.

  11. Start at the bottom of the hair and work your way up getting knots and tangles out.

  12. Comb the top, back, and sides of hair.

  13. Take hands out of the basin and place on a dry towel. Pat hands dry with the washcloth.

  14. Clean nails with the orange wood stick by swiping under the nail and wiping the stick clean on the towel. Repeat until all nails are clean.

  15. File finger nails with the Emery nail file from middle outwards (check to make sure there are no sharp edges on their nails).

  16. Ask the patient if they would like their hands rubbed with lotion. If so, warm a small amount of lotion in your hands first.

  17. Rub the patient’s hand with lotion and pat dry with the washcloth.

  18. Rinse out the basin at least 2 times, and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Remember to never set the basin down while you reach for a paper towel; it must stay off all unclean services.

  19. Store the basin with a clean paper towel as a barrier for the basin, file, stick, lotion bottle, and comb.

  20. Put dirty linens in hamper.

  21. Remove gloves and wash hands.

  22. Give the patient a call light (emergency call button). Ask the patient how they want the head of bed and their privacy curtain.

Basic Grooming for Patients:

  • Always use a barrier (a folded paper towel) when putting items away.

  • Always notify the patient what you’re doing. For example, notify when you’re going through their belongings to get the supplies.

  • Always roll the chest towel down and away from the patient’s face when putting it on, and when taking it off. You never want particles blown towards the patient.

  • Never leave the patient without putting the call light in their hand. You must physically put the call light in their hand.


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