What Your Nails Reveal About Your Health and Ways to Keep Them Strong by Bree Ogden
Your fingernails – composed of laminated layers of the protein keratin – are horn-like envelopes covering the tips of the fingers and toes. Healthy nails are smooth, without splits, divots or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistently free of spots and discoloration. Look at your nails right now – what do you see? Are your cuticles dry or flaky? Do your nails differ in color or are brittle? Though you could easily fix some of these issues in a matter of minutes with a nail file or clipper, these are signs of poor nail health and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
To most women, nails are often regarded as an accessory or aesthetic feature. More than $770 million dollars a year is spent annually on nail polish in the U.S. alone. Crazy! You know the shape, texture and color of your unpolished nails act as a window into your body? While some nail symptoms are harmless, others can be indicative of chronic diseases, including some cancers. As noted by the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD): “Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia, and diabetes.”
Here are some tips of how to grow stronger and healthier nails:
- Don’t cut your cuticles – they’re meant to be there to act as a barrier against bacteria. A safer alternative is to push your cuticles back using an exfoliating and waterless treatment. Check out Dr. Lippmann’s Cuticle Remover – apply the product liberally to all nails where the skin meets the nail and use a cuticle pusher to gently push the cuticles back.
- Your nails aren’t power tools – when you bend, twist or pry something by your nails it’s a bad idea because you risk bending the nail back, among other potentially harmful things. According to Dr. Lippmann, “The white area, referred to as the stress area, will eventually weaken and break. So make a conscious effort to pay close attention to how you use your nails.”
- DO get manicures – though your wallet may not like it – manicures are actually good for your nails. Properly grooming your nails will make them healthier and pushing back your cuticles will build stronger nails. Nail polish also holds in moisture, which will keep it hydrated. Wallet Tip – while at a salon, ask for a simple polish change, instead of a fancy manicure or pedicure. It’s less than half the price – you’ll just be skipping out of the massage, but if you could live without it, it’s a good bargain!
- Be cautious of chemicals in nail products – That pretty shade of red or coral sitting on the salon shelf may look nice, but it could be loaded with hazardous materials or chemicals. Dermatologist Ava Shamban recommends using a chemical-free nail polish. She says, “Today, there are many lines that are vegan and chemical-free, such as SpaRitual, Butter and Essie.” * Chemicals to look for and stay away from: Formaldehyde, DBP and Toluene
- Keep nails and hands moisturized – you may not hydrate nearly as much as you should. “Moisturize your hands with hand cream or cuticle oil every time you wash your hands,” says Dr. Lippmann. Coconut oil also works well to soften cuticles, moisturize hands and prevent hangnails.
If you notice any significant changes in your nails, including swelling, discoloration or changes in shape or thickness, it’s best to contact your doctor or dermatologist. It could be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember to be kind to your nails – they’re fragile!
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.