Have you checked your nails and the skin around them recently? Do you think your nails look healthy and strong? Or do you see any dents, ridges, unevenness, discoloration, or dry areas? There’s a chance that underlying conditions may be a cause of these problems, but a lot of nail problems can actually be avoided by properly taking care of your nails.
Your nail are made up of layers of protein called keratin. The nails grow from an area at the base of the nail just under your cuticle.
What do healthy nails look like?
Healthy nails are smooth and without grooves or pits. The color should be even and free of spots or stains.
However, fingernails may sometimes form harmless vertical ridges going from the cuticle to the nail tip. This is a common change as we age. White lines may also appear on the nails because of injury but will eventually clear up.
When should I be concerned?
If you notice any of these signs, it might be time to visit a doctor or dermatologist.
- discoloration of the whole nail
- dark line under the nail
- curled nails or other changes in shape
- noticeably thinner or thicker nails
- nail separating from the skin
- bleeding from under or around the nails
- pain or swelling around the nails
How do I properly take care of my nails?
- Keep your hands clean. It’s a good habit to make sure that your nails and the skin around them are free of dirt. All traces of the previous nail color must be removed completely. Use an acetone-free remover of else anything else will dry out the nails. It’s also a good idea to brush the nails with a toothbrush and gently rubbing the nails and the skin around them. This will not only remove dirt but will also exfoliate dead skin cells without having to use any harsh or drying chemicals.
- Always be gentle on your nails. Keep in mind that nails are delicate no matter the thickness. Srubbing them too harshly or too much digging under the nail plate can separate the nail from the skin and expose you to infection.
- Just like your hair, your nails will benefit from regular trimming. Clip them every 2 weeks on average, depending on how fast your nails grow.
- Health is more important than length. Shorter nails with rounded edges are more low-maintenance and are neater to look at. This gives you more room to worry about nail strength than aesthetics.
- Use an emery board by doing strokes in only one direction if you’re someone who lives an active lifestyle and your nail experiences wear and tear.
- Never cut your cuticles because it breaks your nail’s seal of protection. Without cuticles, your nails are prone to bacteria and infection. However, if you must, only pushing back your cuticle with an orange wooden stick once a week is enough. Do this after a bath and finish off by massaging your cuticles with cuticle cream or thick and creamy lotion.
- To keep your nails far away from infection, disinfect your tools regularly with soap and water and finish off by wiping them with rubbing alcohol. Throw away disposable items like emery boards after every use.
- Always use a base coat when applying nail polish at home. This protects the nail from being stained by colored polish and helps the color look more vibrant.
- Stay away from nail polish with these toxic chemicals: dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde. These toxins can make your nails more brittle and can lead to cracks and splits.
- Don’t apply acrylic and gel treatments on your nails frequently. They may be long-lasting and definitely require less maintenance, but these treatments are harsh on the nails. The main concern with a gel manicure in the UV light in the drying device that can damage the skin below and around the nail, making you more prone to cancer. If having the treatment is a must, then apply sunscreen on your nails with lotion that has SPF of at least 30 before the procedure.
- Let your nails “breathe.” Give your nails time to rest and repair by not applying any polish or else your nails will dry out, yellow over time, and weaken.
- Always moisturize bare nails.
- Whenever you’re cleaning with harsh chemicals or handiwork that involve soaking or dirtying your hands, protect your hands and nails by using gloves.
Do you have any more tips on how to take care of your nails? Share them in the comments below!
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