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Having pretty fingernails is not luck of the draw. A healthy person can have healthy fingernails.

1st…

If that’s your goal, the first step is to understand what you are aspiring to. Healthy nails should be smooth, equally thick all the way around and have a uniform color. They should also have a consistent texture and be without ridges or grooves.

2nd…

The second step is to realize that your fingernails need to be cared for in much the same manner as your skin. You need to begin with the proper building blocks, which you obtain through a healthy and balanced diet.

3rd…

Then, you need to make moisture a priority. For the best results, you need to moisturize your nails and your cuticles daily. When you are applying cream or oil, do so with massaging motions. This will help to promote blood flow and thereby healthier nails.

4th…

Make sure to protect your fingertips. Do not use your nails as tools since this can lead to damage and cause injuries that can serve as breeding grounds for infection or that can result in scarred tissue. Also, dry your nails and cuticles completely after washing your hands and wear gloves when washing dishes or using chemicals.

Correcting Nail Damage

But, what if, due to improper care in the past, your nails or cuticles are dry and damaged? The good news is that you will likely be able to restore them to optimal condition. the not-so-great news is that it will likely take some time, perhaps months, depending on the extent of the damage.

Dry Nails: For dryness, splitting and cracking, moisturize your fingertips at night and then sleep with gloves on. Look for a moisturizer that has ingredients such as urea, phospholipids or lactic acid. These are humectants and they will help the nails and cuticles attract and retain moisture, which can help to prevent cracking and splitting. Sleeping with gloves on is a good practice to continue even after you see improvement.

Split Nails: If your nails are splitting, after soaking your hands for at least 15 minutes, remove the nearly detached layers of nail. Once your nails are dry, have them buffed. If you are planning to apply nail polish, first apply a base coat to provide a barrier that will prevent further damage.

Yellow Nails: Yellowing nails can be caused by a number of things, such as nicotine or fingernail polish. If you are sure the cause is not the result of a medical problem, you can likely correct the staining. Buff your bare nails and then soak them in lemon juice for about 10 minutes. Continue your soaking sessions every couple of days until your nails look better. Don’t forget to carefully moisturize after each session because lemon juice can be drying.

Nail Nutrition

A nutritional deficiency can affect the health of your nails. If you were suffering from anemia or a zinc deficiency, your nails may bear spots, become brittle and easily break or tear. Taking vitamin or mineral supplements to restore the nutritional balance should result in improvement of your nails. However, supplements will generally do little if there are no nutritional problems. Consuming extra calcium, for example, is not a means to provide super effects to your nails.

There is a possible exception, however, a member of the B-complex called biotin. There are suggestions that taking 2.5 milligrams per day can thicken and strengthen the nails. But since fingernails grow slowly, if you decide to take biotin realize that  it could take months to see the results.

Nail Health: When To See A Doctor

Don’t panic over every white spot or cracked cuticle. More often than not, unhealthy nails are simply the result of improper care and a change of habits will turn the situation around. But, realize that there are times when unhealthy nails are the sign of bigger problems, especially if an abnormality such as discoloration or thickening persists.

Nail technicians are urged to advise clients to visit a doctor if changes are seen in their nails. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this advice, do not dismiss it. An individual who works with your nails is in a good position to determine how normal any changes that occur are.

Furthermore, if you care for your own nails, always be on the lookout for differences. Try to identify harmless changes such as a trauma mark or bruise from something more serious. Harmless discolorations are not permanent and should grow toward the end of the nail. Also, take notice of whether or not any changes in your nails coincide with other symptoms. Remember that a person’s fingernails can indicate  a wide range of health problems, ranging from a nail infection to hepatitis to obsessive compulsive disorder, so don’t neglect signs of trouble.

Healthy Nails 101  was originally published on blackdoctor.org

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