Healthy Nails and Your Health
Healthy nails reflect a healthy body. These bits of keratin at the ends of your fingers and toes grow and develop correctly when you take care of yourself. However, various internal and environmental factors may change or discolor otherwise healthy nails. While not all signs indicate a serious problem, it is a good idea to know the causes of common nail issues that people experience.
If Your Nails are Brittle and Breaking…
If you notice your nails breaking and chipping more than usual, the common culprit is a dry nail plate. Your nail plate dries out when you overexpose your hands to harsh chemicals. Using harsh nail polish remover strips your nails of needed moisture. Additionally, detergents such as dishwashing liquid tend to dry out your nails. Wearing gloves when using harsh chemicals and detergents can protect your nails from becoming brittle. You can also reintroduce moisture to the bed by staying properly hydrated and moisturizing with unscented lotion.
If protecting your nails from chemicals doesn’t help, you may suffer from hypothyroidism— a condition where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Consult your doctor if you believe your brittle nails are the result of an under active thyroid gland.
If You See White Spots…
Little white spots on the nail bed are normal, and many people assume they are a sign of a calcium deficiency. However, this is a fallacy. White spots on the nail are harmless. They are commonly caused by minor trauma to the nail bed or surrounding tissue– think of them like a bruise. Additionally, if you leave nail polish on for too long, the surface of the nail may break down and create spots. The only way to get rid of these spots is to wait it out. They will eventually grow out of your nails.
However, if the white spots on your nails have a powdery consistency, that may be a problem. A loose consistency means it is not a bruise– rather it may be a fungal infection. An over-the-counter nail fungal treatment can clear up an infection.
If Your Nails are Turning Yellow…
Yellow nails are unpleasant to look at, but most of the time they result from your attempts at beautifying. The most common culprit behind yellowing nails is staining from cosmetic nail polish. A good base coat can help prevent yellowing from nail polish, but it is not a guarantee. Additionally, various home treatments including lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide can fade the yellow.
If you never paint your nails but experience yellowing anyways, you may be showing early signs of diabetes, which must be treated by a doctor. Yellowing Nail Syndrome involves discoloration as well as thickening and impeded growth. If you notice this trifecta, it may be a sign of respiratory problems including bronchitis.
If You Notice Vertical Ridges in Your Nails…
Lines on your nails result from the same thing as lines on your face– aging. The older you get, the more elasticity you lose. Vertical ridges are wrinkles for your face. To treat them, use the same techniques you employ for a smooth complexion. Moisturize regularly and hydrate regularly. Using a good UV protection agent on your hands can also help prevent the breakdown of cells. You can also ensure healthy nails by getting regular, nourishing manicures that pamper your hands and prevent signs of aging.
If Your Nails are Curving Up…
Nails shouldn’t scoop and curl up at the ends. If you notice this pattern at the tips of your fingers, it’s time to make an appointment with your physician for blood work. Scooping nails result from an iron deficiency or anemia. Other signs include fatigue and dark circles under your eyes. Only a doctor can diagnose an iron deficiency, but the problem is easily treated with diet changes and a supplement.
If your notice your nails are curving, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. While they most likely result from a type of anemia, they may also signal other health problems. Liver damage, heart disease, and hypothyroidism all cause nail disfiguration.
Healthy Nails for a Healthy You
People often associate manicures and pedicures with cosmetics. However, taking care of your nails is an investment in your health. Regular care of your nails prevents spots, chipping, yellowing, and ridges. Plus, the exfoliation and care of the skin around your nails prevent signs of aging. Additionally, getting a manicure or pedicure relaxes the mind and body. Reducing stress prevents ailments including obesity, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and depression.
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