How To Keep your Nails Healthy

Your nails are generally a good reflection of your health.Your finger and toenails should be strong and healthy in appearance, free of ridges, dents,and discolorations. Make an effort to care for your nails, such as eating a variety of whole foods- ensuring you are getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your nails need as well as incorporating regular grooming and cleaning into your routine. Monitor your nails, watching out for signs of disease or fungal infections. Many nail conditions like these can be avoided through proper nail care. Others may indicate an underlying medical condition that needs attention.

What Is Normal and What Is Not

Your nails grow from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Healthy nails are smooth, uniform in color and free of spots. Sometimes nails may develop harmless vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. These tend to become more prominent with age. White lines or spots can develop, these are mainly due to injury to the nail, but these eventually grow out with the nail. Healthy nails comprise of Pinkish-white nail plates, there should be a prominent half-moon shaped white section (lunula) at the nail base. However, not all nail conditions are normal. It is advised that you consult your Doctor or Dermatologist if you notice changes in your nail color, such as discoloration of the whole nail or a dark streak under the nail, thinning or thickening of your nails, changes in nail shape (such as curled nails), separation of the nail from the nail bed ,bleeding around the nails, pain or swelling around the nails and failure of nails to grow.

Tips For Nail Care

To keep yournails looking their best, it is important to make sure your nails and the skin around them are thoroughly dirt-free. This prevents bacteria from growing under your nails. Practice good nail care- using a manicure scissors or clippers, trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve. Keep a nail file handy to smooth away any rough edges, working in one direction, with the grain of your nail for a smoother finish. Look after your cuticles, the cuticle has a very important purpose to serve; it seals the area at the base of the nail. Therefore, if you cut or remove your cuticle, it breaks that seal of protection, leaving the nail vulnerable to bacteria and the possibility of infection. It is recommended to gently push back the cuticle once a week with a wooden orange stick after your shower or bath, then massaging them with a cuticle oil or a thick, creamy hand lotion. Ask your doctor about biotin- some research suggests that this nutritional supplement may help to strengthen weak or brittle nails.

Preventing Nail Damage

Biting your nails or picking your cuticles can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut near your nail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection. Don’t pull off hangnails as you might rip healthy tissue along with the hangnail. Instead, carefully clip off hangnails. It is best to limit your use of nail polish as this can dry them out, turn them yellow, and over time, even weaken the structure of the nail. Limit the use of nail polish remover as this strips the nail of its natural oils and can leave the nail weak and dry. When using nail polish remover, opt for an acetone-free formula. When doing manicures and pedicures, there are a few things to keep in mind. Ensure the salon you go to is reputable. Ensure your nail technician properly sterilizes all tools used during your procedure to prevent infection. Also ask how the foot baths are cleaned, as these can spread infection too. Wear gloves when doing dishes. When cleaning with harsh chemicals, gardening or doing anything that involves soaking or dirtying your hands, it is advised that you wear rubber gloves which have a cotton lining. Cleaning dishes in hot water without gloves can weaken the nails. And remember when the weather is chilly to wear a pair of gloves or mittens so that the cold air doesn’t undo the hard work you did moisturizing, leaving you with dry and flaky skin.

Remember that your toenails also count! Everything that applies to your fingernails applies to your toenails, which experts say may be even more prone to problems due to careless pedicures. Because feet are more often inside shoes- a dark, moist environment- fungus can grow more easily. Always be aware that the condition of your nails can sometimes reflect a health condition. Of course, if you suspect a health problem, discuss any concerns with your doctor. It is easy to neglect your nails-but practicing basic nail care as discussed above- can ensure your nails are healthy and strong.

Candice Schmidt
Author: Candice Schmidt