To start with, I want you to take a close look at your fingernails. Can you see any ridges, dents, or areas of unusual colour, or, maybe shape ? While some of these conditions can be avoided by a proper nail care regime, some might indicate an underlying condition that needs an attention. But the good news is that all with a little knowledge and preparation, you too can get the kind of nails that are “picture perfect”
What’s normal ?
Your fingernails are composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin and in order to be healthy usually contain about 18% water. Healthy fingernails grow from the base of the nail, just under the cuticle and are smooth, without pits or grooves, uniform in colour and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Sometimes fingernails develop vertical ridges, which are harmless, but which tend to become more prominent as we age. Fingernails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail. It’s worth speaking to your dermatologist or doctor if you notice any of the following things :-
- Any discoloration of the entire nail or a dark streak under the nail.
- Changes in nail shape, such as curled nails.
- Thinning or thickening of the nails.
- Swelling or pain around the nails.
- Bleeding around the nails.
The Nail care do’s…………..
- Get a nailcare kit -there are lots out there to chose from, mine has scissors, clippers, cuticle pushers, glass files, buffers and an emery file.
- Get into the habit of a good nailcare routine. Keeping your nails well cut and clean not only prevents bacteria from growing under the nail, but also reduces the risk of it catching on edges or splitting. When trimming your nails, use sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve
- Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
- Use a hand moisturizer which includes a nail additive. When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too.
- Apply a protective layer. Applying a nail hardener like Sally Hansons will help strengthen nails.
- Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.
The Nail care don’ts…………..
- Bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles. Naughty naughty NAUGHTY !!! Both of these habits will damage the nail bed. They’re also not a good way to trim your nails !!! You can’t see what you’re doing and even a minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection.
- Pull off hangnails. You might rip live tissue along with the hangnail. Instead, carefully clip off hangnails.
- Ignore problems. If you have a nail problem that doesn’t seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, speak to your doctor for an evaluation.
- Use harsh nail care products. Where you can, limit your use of nail polish remover. When you do use it, opt for an acetone-free formula.
Did you know ?
It’s a good idea to take extra care of your nails in the winter. Remember when I said that a healthy nail contains upto 18% water ? Well in winter, your nails are more prone to suffering moisture loss moving between hot, dry indoor spaces and the freezing temperatures outdoors. These extremes can reduce the moisture level in your nails, leaving them dehydrated. Nails which are “dehydrated” are more likely to break, split, and chip.
In winter, intense hydration is the name of the game. Nails are made up of flattened dead cells containing keratin which is naturally quite hard. Moisturizers can make them flexible, supple, and less likely to split and break. So breakout the winter hand cream (even after every hand washing) and get in the habit of applying it your nails too.
If you’re wearing polish, or rely on false nails for your look, massage the cream into the cuticles to help stimulate healthy nail growth. Look for lotions that contain urea—a humectant that helps hold moisture in the skin. At night, use cuticle oil (in a pinch, olive oil also works). Then once a week, given yourself a pamper with an intensive treatment. Soaking your nails in lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes, then coat them with cuticle oil, slip on some cotton gloves and curl up with a good book. Heaven !!!