How Did People Trim and Maintain Their Nails in Medieval Times?

Changes in Time

There was a huge gap between the culture difference when we compare the ancient period with the early to middle medieval period. The difference can be seen pretty easily because when Crusaders first came to Constantinople they were amazed by the difference regarding how they lived life. A huge example could be with the use of a fork, they first saw fork because back then they ate with their hands. From our point of view, they seemed so uncivilized.

But as time passed by and Europe left it’s so-called “dark age” it became to develop. Europe started to adapt to a certain lifestyle and as different period passed by Europe changed with it. But what about hygiene?

Development in Hygiene

Hygiene is something that should be taken seriously, but how well did it go in the middle ages? Well if we look at a certain point of view we can consider that people didn’t bath as much as in the medieval period. While if we compare them to the Byzantine Empire or even the Romans who tended to use baths. Even though they were public baths they cared for their hygiene constantly in order to stay healthy.┬áConsidering that people who were on voyages such as expeditions on ships they didn’t take a bath for a longer amount of time could cause some heavy damage to the population once they return. Various diseases could spread caused by this low level of hygiene.

Because they didn’t take baths they had various smells surrounding them and they were hard to get rid of so people got used to it. Dental hygiene, face grooming or even changing wardrobe was important. Have you ever wondered about the nails? How could people trim their nails back when they lacked the tools we have today.

Growth in Appearance

From the look of it if I was an average person back in the day I could care less of my appearance because my main task would be to survive and reproduce. But as prestige grew so did the competition. This was mostly in the upper classes of society, the nobles. They had to be sharp looking all the time, starting from head to toe. Having fingernails wasn’t an option because it would make you look weird and barbaric. Having big fingernails full of dirt and black spots was not the best idea for someone who wanted to show off. So people started to use various fingernails removal methods.

What was Working?

Despite from the average nail biting which I personally could possibly do. What was the method of removing your nails? Because you cannot remove your toe nails with your mouth.

The first option was cutting your nails with a small knife, but this was considered dangerous because you can hurt yourself and miss cutting a nail could hurt pretty bad. But this was somewhat a useful solution for a start, even though it was really hard to cut from the upper position on your toenails. You couldn’t rotate them and you had to cut very carefully.

Scissors were invented yes and they were since ancient times, even around the Babylonian kingdom, various sets were found. But they are for cutting hair and trimming the beard, it was harder to make a good set of scissors even though possible. But as an average person, you couldn’t possibly give your money for this and you had to improvise.

Breaking your nails was another part of removing it, letting it grow in order to make it break at a certain point and afterward remove it with your hands or re-cut it with a knife. Also, sandpaper materials were useful as well, you could always remove the nail by using a sand paper. This was useful for toe nails.

Even though this was not an ordinary topic it was something people did, because having long nails wasn’t pretty useful. They could get in the way of many thins and us humans aren’t in much need of nails at this current moment.