Healthy Nails

Woman with Painted NailsThink about how often you stare at your fingernails everyday. If you do, do you notice how healthy they look?  Do you enjoy filing them, polishing them, or getting manicures?  Or do you notice how unhealthy and brittle they look?  Maybe you have dry cuticles or get a lot of hangnails.  Regardless of your nails’ condition, read this article to learn how to best take care of your finger- and toenails.

Our nails make it easier to use our hands, whether for picking up something, cleaning, scratching, or removing a key from a key chain.  Nails are made up of a protein called keratin, which begins growing just below the cuticle.  When new nail cells grow, they cause older cells to harden, compact, and move towards your fingertips.

Healthy nails are smooth nails.  Ridges, grooves, discoloration, or spots can be signs of disease; however, some irregularities, such as vertical ridges in the fingernails can be harmless.  Talk to your doctor of your nails are yellow, separate from the nail bed, have horizontal indentations, are opaque below the fingertip level, or curl.

Summer’s here for a little while longer, so here are a few tips to keep your manicure and pedicure looking great and prepare for dryer weather to come during the winter.

  • Keep your nails moisturized by rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil into your nails.
  • Keep your fingernails short and square shaped but slightly rounded at the top.  Cut your nails after you shower or bathe when they are softest and file when they are hardest (before bathing).  Always file in only one direction to avoid putting excess pressure on the nails.
  • Trim your toenails straight across.  This will avoid ingrown toenails.
  • Wear cotton socks and shoes that fit properly to allow your nails to breathe and for your shoes and socks to do their job absorbing moisture and keeping your toes comfortable.
  • If your nails are brittle, try adding more zinc, biotin, calcium, or vitamins A and B.
  • Never wear acrylic nails or use acetone- or formaldehyde-based nail polish remover.  Look for nail polish removers with acetate.
  • Finally, take the time to protect your fingernails from damage by wearing rubber gloves when doing household chores or dishes.  Your nails will thank you for the extra protection from dirt and harsh cleaners.
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