Beauty tips for maintaining healthy nails
Your eyes may be the windows to your soul, but your nails are a beacon of your health. An unusual appearance in your nails can be a sign of an underlying health issue or can indicate a cause for concern.
There are also a few simple things you can do to ensure your nails are well-maintained and protected.
Are my nails healthy?
Are strong - They don't break or split easily.
Are generally light pink and have an even colouring throughout. Discolouration can make your nails appear white, yellow or blue/purple (in this case, it is often due to a lack of oxygen).
Have an even texture - They should be smooth, and not rippled or very ridged.
What are signs of a problem?
You should see a doctor if:
Your nails are constantly breaking (i.e. brittle). If you are in the bad habit of chewing on your fingernails, this may be causing brittle nails as well - in which case, you may want to wean yourself off this!
You observe the colour of your nails changing, or if you have mysteriously developed spots or stripes.
You notice ridges developing.
There is a presence of swelling or bleeding.
There are other changes to your nails that were not present previously.
What can I do to take care of my nails?
Poor nail health can be indicative of malnutrition. Ensure you eat a balanced diet in order to consume a variety of vitamins. You can also consume supplements, such as a multivitamin, in order to ensure you are accessing the right level of nutrients.
Wash and dry your hands, following up with a moisturiser. Good hand hygiene extends to your nails, and removing dirt stuck under your nails can prevent the spread of bacteria. Drying your hands subsequently can help limit bacteria growth as well (given that some bacteria grows in moist environments). A moisturiser keeps your skin and nails soft and supple.
Hangnails (those annoying bits of skin that stick out on the side of your nail) should be clipped off gently with a nail clipper or clean pair of nail scissors. If you are struggling to remove these, you can soften them up by soaking the affected areas in water. Hangnails should not be ripped out, as this can cause bleeding and remove healthy tissue.
Trim your nails every week or so (depending on how quickly your nails grow out). This reduces the risk of bacteria and fungal infection, which spreads when dirt accumulates under your nails.
If you go to a nail salon for a manicure or pedicure, make sure your cuticles are not cut or removed. Cuticles play an important role in keeping out harmful bacteria, and cutting them leaves you exposed to infection.
Wear gloves when performing housework to keep off harsh chemicals (or the accumulation of dirt, if you're gardening).
In summary, the best thing you can do to protect your nails is to keep your hands clean and moisturised, but otherwise, leave them alone!