Health And Beauty -
What Are Your Nails Telling You?

Did You Know . . . .
The state of your nails could clue you in to some serious health issues?

Well they can!

Did you also know . . .
Nails are layers of keratin, a protein that's also found in our skin and hair, and are made up of six parts.

Your nail grows from the matrix, an area under the protective cuticle at the base of the nail bed. Fingernails grow 2 to 3 millimeters every month and toenails about 1 millimeter, but growth is faster in the summer months and on your dominant hand.

Anatomy of the Nail:

A fingernail is produced by living skin cells in the finger. A fingernail consists of several parts including:
The Nail Plate - the visible part of the nail
The Nail Bed - the skin beneath the nail plate
The Cuticle - the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail
The Nail Folds - the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides
The Lunula - the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail
The Matrix - the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle

Nail Talk:

Pale Nails - Very pale nails can sometimes be a sign of serious illness, such as Anemia, Congestive heart failure, Liver disease, and Malnutrition.

Yellow Nails - One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection. As the infection worsens, the nail bed may retract, and nails may thicken and crumble. In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.

Rippled Nails - If the nail surface is rippled or pitted, this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Discoloration of the nail is common; the skin under the nail can seem reddish-brown.

Cracked or Split Nails - Dry, brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.

Caring for your nails:

To keep your fingernails looking their best:
Keep fingernails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria from growing under your fingernails.
Repeated or prolonged contact with water can contribute to split fingernails. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals.
Use a sharp manicure scissors or clippers. Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve.
Use moisturizer. When you use hand lotion, rub the lotion into your fingernails and cuticles, too.
Apply a protective layer. Applying a nail hardener might help strengthen nails.
Ask your doctor about biotin. Some research suggests that the nutritional supplement biotin might help strengthen weak or brittle fingernails.

To prevent nail damage, don't:
Bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection.
Pull off hangnails. You might rip live tissue along with the hangnail. Instead, carefully clip off hangnails.
Ignore problems. If you have a nail problem that doesn't seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, consult your doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation.
Use harsh nail care products. Limit your use of nail polish remover. When using nail polish remover, opt for an acetone-free formula.

Other things you should know:
Using the same clippers on your toenails and fingernails is a great way to spread fungus and bacteria, resulting in bad smells and potentially painful infections.

Own your own set of nail care tools, with separate devices for feet and hands, and wash the implements regularly with a disinfectant.

The best manicure tools are hand-finished. Each one is individually adjusted, measured, and readjusted as needed until it operates at the right level of pressure.

Go over nails after any sort of trimming (or tearing) with a triple-cut, sapphire, or crystal glass nail file. An important tip that even professionals sometimes miss: only drag the file in one direction across the nail! Work either from left to right or right to left, but donít saw the file back and forth. That splinters the nail rather than smoothing it, which can lead to cracks that spread down the surface of the nail.

Sources:
How Stuff Works - Nails
WebMd - Nails And Health
Fingernail Anatomy
Nail Cutting Mistakes
Fingernail Abnormalities


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