If you think physical appearance is all about temporarily accentuating your features by oodles of make-up, you might be wrong!
It is a constant TLC and maintenance of your body. Nails being a tiny part of your busy hands, often don’t catch your eye.
But your nails are not just the crowning glory of your hands. They are indicators of your state of health too.
A bright, even tone signals good nail health. What to do when your nails are less than perfect? What if they are visible spots, ridges or grooves?
Take a good hard look at your fingertips.
Do your nails look normal? Or do you need a health exam?
Learn to read the signs of well-being foremost through your nails. After all, the upkeep of your health is in your hands, quite literally!
Read on to understand what your body is trying to tell you through your nail health. Also, see what you can do to take care of your nails.
What do healthy nails look like?
You probably learned at school that nails are made of a protein called keratin!
Your body naturally produces this hard substance. Healthy nails protect your fingertips from impact and injury. They are smooth, and uniform in colour and texture. They do not have any ridges or grooves.
In the course of our daily lives, there is an everyday impact on your nails. You might get a broken fingernail while working with heavy equipment, cooking, or lugging your groceries. The jagged edge can be filed off without hurting.
After buffing it up, a healthy nail feels smooth to touch in less than a day. There is no redness or sensitive area in and around the nail.
What are some common nail conditions?
Some of the collective observations of nail health signs can be as simple as:
Dry, brittle nails:
Nails that split, tear easily, or peel off are classified as brittle. Dryness in nails can be for the same reasons as dryness in the skin – a dry environment.
Lines or spots:
Having white spots or lines is one of the most common and usually harmless condition that you must have noticed on your nails.
Usually, these are formed due to a simple injury to the finger. A slight discolouration will grow out of the nail with time. A healthy nail plate will replace it eventually.
These are slightly raised and can be felt if you examine your nail with care. You are more likely to see ridges as you age. Dry skin, ageing, eczema or even nutritional deficiencies in vitamins, calcium or protein can lead to this condition.
Nails break due to impact, everyday chores in the kitchen and household, or sometimes when you make a sudden movement. Buff it up so it won’t cause scratches.
The reasons for this may be many – a hard blow, ill-fitting gloves or shoes, or simply cutting your nails improperly. It means you have to care for your nails better. For starters, clip your nails carefully, and not too closely.
These are some normal signs. They do not need medical attention. Most are taken care of when the nail grows out.
Simple tips for nail health care:
It is possible to avoid the above-mentioned niggling troubles, by following some easy nail health tips:
1. Keep your fingernails clean:
This is again wisdom from your childhood hygiene lessons. But it still holds good. Keeping your nails free of dirt and grime prevents the growth of bacteria. If your nails are dry and trimmed, there is little space for infection to breed and grow.
2. Keep exposure to water to a minimum:
Your skin and nails have a naturally-occurring oil called sebum. This keeps them from drying out and becoming brittle and ugly. Continued exposure to water robs your skin of sebum.
3. Use sterilized nail health products:
Nail health care is a prime part of personal hygiene. Keep a set of nail care products for your personal use, and sterilize them after every use. Use good quality products that are not abrasive on your delicate fingers.
The nail bed, root, lunula and cuticles are all sensitive. Be gentle during your care regimen.
4. Use standardized nail health care products:
A single drop of lotion can go a long way in protecting your fingernails. It forms a barrier between harsh natural elements (like cold winds) and prevents drying. If you are out working in the sunlight, a good quality sunscreen is a must.
5. Watch your intake:
‘You are what you eat’ may sound clichéd but it holds true for your nail health and nutrition. Foods rich in Vitamin A and D keep your nails healthy. Vitamin D works together with Calcium from your food to repair damaged tissue and replace dead cells.
And of course, protein forms the building blocks of your nails. Load up on lean meats, fish, iron-rich vegetables, lentils and legumes to get the shine into your nails!
A double-coat of a good-quality nail paint can protect your nails from the elements. If you have heard of nail polish health risks, remember there is a correct way of doing it.
Use a reputed brand. The product should have been out after adequate testing. When in doubt, do a test and watch for reactions in your skin or eyes for at least 24 hours.
Despite these precautions, there is a chance you might notice some serious nail abnormalities.
When do you need to get a medical consultation?
We often tend to ignore the changes that happen in our body over the time. Changes in the nails can be overlooked quite easily. But, if you notice any of the following changes, you should seek medical help right away –
Persistent bumps or grooves in the nail:
If a nail curves to one side repeatedly, or if there is a painful bump that does not heal with time, expert advice is needed.
Pain, swelling or bleeding:
Any discharge of blood or pus from the nail bed or surrounding area might indicate an infection. Immediate medical attention is in order.
Sudden changes in nail texture:
Sometimes, nails become thin or thick without explanation. This might indicate bigger changes within the body. A professional examination solves such issues from the root.
Not only are clubbed digits unattractive, but they are also indicative of a deeper problem. Your heart health, lung function merits attention.
Issues such as those detailed above are not normal and need to be checked out. Ignoring such a condition can lead to serious consequences.
A quick look at what nail health indicators may point to:
1. Pale nails:
One of the many signs of anemia. It is your cue that you need to get more Iron in your diet. Pale nail health signs also call attention to liver disease or heart conditions.
2. White nails:
They can be
3. Yellow nails:
They indicate fluctuations in thyroid function. This can be combined with other nail health signs like thick or brittle nails.
4. Blue hues:
This is definitely not attractive! Blue in your nails can indicate a severe situation such as being deprived of oxygen. Emergency measures need to be taken.
5. Split nails, yellowed fringes or cracks:
Such nails abnormalities again indicate disturbances in thyroid function. An underlying infection or fungus can also cause these nail health signs
6. A dark streak from nail root to edge:
Waste no time in getting to a doctor! It always warrants further examination. It can be a sign of melanoma or other serious skin conditions.
Now you know which nail abnormalities are serious, and which ones are not. Not every nail health indicator is a sign of the worst for your health. Even so, your best bet to be on the safer side is to develop awareness.
Never forget, nail health care is something you will keep up for life. Nail care is often neglected, and you don’t want to receive a harsh reminder in the form of a nail abnormality. Since there is a continued need for maintenance, here are some never-fail rules.
Nail health care – best practices to nail the manicured look:
Stay away from the temptation to gnaw:
Biting your nails is a well-known social faux pas. What’s more, there are documented nail-biting health risks too. It can lead to the transfer of disease-carrying germs to your mouth and can result in stomach bugs or worse.
Nail-biting not in control?
You might want to get an evaluation of your mental health. This extreme reaction to stressful situations may indicate panic or anxiety. A heightened mental state affects other aspects of your life too. Get this checked out before you chew your nails off!
Get a professional salon manicure regularly:
Hectic daily schedules and demands of an erratic lifestyle may not let you give your hands and nails the pampering they deserve.
Deep conditioning and moisturizing done by a professional can tame cuticles gone awry.
They have a wide array of instruments to remove stubborn cuticles and hangnails painlessly.
Check out the finest manicure services in the town from NailSpa experience here.
Take advantage of the trained eye:
Salon workers know a healthy set of nails when they see them. If they notice something is amiss, they can give you a warning that you may have missed seeing yourself
Take your vitamins! Consult your general health practitioner or dermatologist, and take some vitamins to enhance your nail health and nutrition regimen. Vitamins A, E, D, B12 and plenty of Calcium will see to your nail health.
Make it a habit, and nail health is easy to achieve. It is a process, and once it is absorbed into your nail health care routine, it becomes second nature. Your nails will no longer be suffering from want of care.
When you take nail health seriously, it shows. Next time you extend your hand for a handshake, be proud of not just your outgoing manner, but of your flawless manicure too.