Nails are made up of layers of protein called keratin and can be indicative of our general health. They grow on average 1mm per week, unless there are dietary issues or medical conditions that prevent this.
The purpose of nails is to protect the ends of our fingers and toes from trauma and to help pick things up. Taking good care of your nails and maintaining their cleanliness is very important. As many people talk with their hands they are often seen by many and can represent to others an overall picture of our personal hygiene.
General Cleansing of Nails
Nails can be kept clean by using a simple mild soap, warm water and a nail brush. The use of a specialised moisturiser, or hand and nail product may be useful in keeping skin and nails hydrated and healthy.
There are many conditions that can affect the health of our nails some requiring specific treatments:
The cause of dry or brittle nails can be due to genetics or from exposure to chemicals. Nails that are brittle are often easily snapped, peel between layers, look dull and can chip.
To avoid brittle nails wear gloves when washing up or being in contact with other chemicals. White spirit is very drying to the nails so never rinse paint brushes without wearing gloves.
Fungi are anaerobic organisms meaning that they thrive in areas where oxygen is limited. The crevices and layers of the nails are the perfect environment for them to breed. Nails may look discoloured and thickened when a fungal infection is present. Seek advice from the pharmacist or GP to determine whether an anti-fungal treatment is needed.
Loose skin down the sides or nails or at the base of the cuticle should be trimmed away using clean sharp scissors that are specifically dedicated to nails.
Many people used to believe that white spots on the nails were the result of a dietary deficiency; experts now suggest that these are due to either trauma to the nails, for example banging it, or from tiny air bubbles trapped between the layers of the nail. They will not cause harm and are best left to grow out.
Splits or Ridges
Nails that seem split or have noticeable ridges running through them are often caused by over-exposure to water or from prolonged use of nail varnish. Always wear gloves when washing up, and if a fan of nail polish, leave a few days between applications to let the nail recover. The massaging in of jojoba oil can help to treat this problem.
Manicures are an excellent way of improving the overall health of your nails, provided that acrylic substances are not used; these types of nails may look glamorous but they are not particularly good for the health of your real nails. Cutting and manicuring of nails is best done after bathing or showering as the nails are clean and more pliable. Some experts recommend pushing the cuticles back, whilst others suggest this habit may increase the risk of infection and is best avoided.
Always remember to keep your nail instruments clean to avoid the spread of infection.
Nail hygiene is essential to prevent the development and spread of infection. They are also displayed in public at all times so can be representative of our overall health, well-being and personal hygiene methods.