Tips for Healthy Nails

Beauty, Home & Family
on January 11, 2012

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how do you fingernails grow? Fingernails and toenails are laminated layers of a protein called keratin. Cellular growth at the base of the nail/cuticle pushes the older, harder nail toward the tips of your fingers and toes.

Healthy nails should be consistent in shape, pink in color and surrounded by unbroken skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, any bleeding, nail splitting, discoloration or swelling is considered unhealthy and should be checked out by a doctor.

Follow these five steps to help keep your nails healthy and beautiful:

1. Keep nails clean, dry and trimmed short. Proper care prevents nail fungus and bacteria from propagating and damaging your nails.

2. Avoid prolonged exposure to water. Excessive soaking in a tub or when cleaning can weaken nails, making them prone to disease and injury. Weak nails can be strengthened with clear or colored nail polish. Just avoid overuse of nail polish remover. Use a non-acetone formula to avoid drying.

3. Moisturize often. Keeping your hands, cuticles and nails moisturized with a rich lotion not only improves the look of hands and nails, it protects them, too. Petroleum jelly is an excellent, low-cost nail moisturizer and protector.

4. Avoid damaging your nails. Your nails are not a tool. Don’t use them for screwing screws, scraping, picking or any other abusive activity. Also avoid picking, pulling and biting the nail and cuticle. This also causes nail damage. Hangnails should be trimmed, or an adhesive bandage can be used to protect the area while it heals.

5. Strengthen with biotin. Biotin is a B-complex vitamin also known as vitamin H or coenzyme R. This vitamin is necessary for cell health and growth. The Mayo Clinic cites biotin as potentially helpful in strengthening hair and nails. Biotin is naturally produced in the body’s intestinal bacteria. Various metabolic disorders can inhibit biotin production, so always check with your doctor if you think you may need extra biotin.

Nail health is often good indicator of overall health. If you detect a problem with your fingernails, point it out to your doctor as it could be a sign of a larger issue.

This article was originally published as Tips for Healthy Nails on DailyParent.com.